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Featured here are seven works that are juvenile biographies of John Paul Jones or fictional works for young readers in which he plays a major role. The period between 1870 and 1914 saw the flowering of children's literature in England and America. Among the books publishers produced for young readers were biographies of historical personages. The career of John Paul Jones particularly lent itself to colorful retelling, and a variety of authors chose to write biographies geared to boys and girls, or adventure tales in which the famous captain was a main character.

Over the decades, a number of these books found their way into the Naval Academy's collections. The Library purchased some at the time of their publication, and others were gifts. Many of these works were part of popular series, such as the Navy Boys, the Boys of Liberty Library, Young Heroes of Our Navy, and the Young Folks Colonial Library.

The Heroic Life of Captain John Paul Jones (1902)

The Heroic Life of Captain John Paul Jones is a recent gift from John Halliday, USNA Class of 1958. Boston publisher DeWolfe, Fiske & Co. issued its Heroic Series in 1902 at the price of 50 cents each. Other subjects in the series were Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses S. Grant, and William McKinley. In business from 1880 to 1905, the company specialized in juvenilia and advertised its offerings as the finest children's literature ever produced in America.

The illustrations in this book are typical of the period of its production. Advances in color lithography made it possible for publishers to produce bright covers and pictures that were attractive to young people. The illustrator, however, has shown little concern for historical accuracy. In particular, the clothing of the little girl and her mother in the frontispiece ("The Ranger sighted at Whitehaven") is a glaring anachronism, suited to 1902 rather than 1778.

Elbridge Streeter Brooks, the book's probable author, was born in Lowell, Massachusetts in 1846 and died in 1902. He wrote almost seventy books for young people, and from 1884 to 1887 was the editor of St. Nicholas, a children's magazine begun in 1873. Brooks' Historic Girls (1891) and The True Story of Christopher Columbus (1892) are available through Virgo, the successor to the University of Virginia's e-text center.

Dashing Paul Jones, the Hero of the Colonial Navy (1882)

The David McKay Company of Philadelphia, founded in 1882, issued Dashing Paul Jones, the Hero of the Colonial Navy as part of its Boys of Liberty Library. Begun in the 1890s, this clothbound series was one of the firm's better-known juvenile sets. McKay's list of titles reached 700 in 1905, including 160 children's books. The company also published The Newbery Classics and the Golden Books for Children, illustrated by N.C. Wyeth and John Cameron. Several authors contributed to the Boys of Liberty Library, including Harrie Irving Hancock who wrote, for another publisher, the Dave Darrin Series, four of which follow the fictional character's years at the Naval Academy.

The Navy Boys in the Track of the Enemy

The Navy Boys in the Track of the Enemy was part of New York publisher A.L. Burt’s Navy Boys series. Burt started his business in 1883 and, by 1933, the firm had become the second largest reprint house in the United States, after Grosset and Dunlap. Juvenile fiction was one of the first areas in which Burt began publishing. He was the first to offer Edgar Rice Burroughs’ Tarzan books in popularly priced editions. There were eventually twelve titles in Burt’s Navy Boys series.

William Pendleton Chipman (1854-1937), the author of The Navy Boys in the Track of the Enemy, was a Baptist minister who wrote a number of “boys’ books,” including another Navy Boys’ tale, Two Yankee Middies, a Story of the First Cruise of an American Squadron in 1775 . Illustrator John Watson Davis was born in New York in 1870 and died in California in 1959. His art appeared in magazines and books, including the novels of Zane Grey and Horatio Alger. The figures in his drawing are wearing uniforms of a later date than the action of the story.

These two books are part of the collection of juvenile literature that Rear Admiral James Winnefeld, USN (Ret.) gave to the Special Collections & Archives Department in 2002.

Paul Jones (1893)

Molly Elliot Seawell (1860-1916) was a popular author at the turn of the nineteenth-century. She wrote short stories, historical romances, and juvenile literature. In 1890, her short story “Little Jarvis,” about a patriotic midshipman, was selected out of 2,000 entries to win the prize of $500 in a contest sponsored by the Youth’s Companion. She wrote several naval tales, a number of which were titles in the Young Heroes of Our Navy series.

In Paul Jones , Seawell created two characters to accompany the naval hero. According to the January 8, 1894 review of the book in the New York Times, "the author’s style is fascinating because it is admirably adapted to the understanding of the little ones whom she particularly addresses. They will not find elsewhere a history of Paul Jones which unites as happily enthusiasm and realization, adequate praise of the officer, and familiar descriptions of the man."

The New York publishing house D. Appleton and Company, in business since 1831, issued the Young Heroes of Our Navy series. Two artists provided the illustrations for Paul Jones. Marine artist Julian Oliver Davidson (1853-1894) illustrated the battle scenes. During the Civil War, Davidson depicted many naval actions for The Century magazine. Over his career, he produced commissioned paintings, authored and illustrated children’s books, and supplied illustrations to popular magazines. Massachusetts native Hermann Dudley Murphy (1867-1945) was best known for his landscapes and still lifes. Like so many artists in the late nineteenth century, he provided illustrations for newspapers, magazines, and books during the 1880s and 1890s.

With Paul Jones (1908)

The author of With John Paul Jones was Philadelphia native John T. McIntyre, a novelist and playwright who died in 1950 at the age of 79. He wrote a number of books for young people issued by the Penn Publishing Company. Penn, founded by Charles C. Shoemaker in 1889, had by the 1890s developed a line of juvenile literature that included works by Horatio Alger, Jr. and Frank H. Converse.

Clyde Osmer DeLand (1872-1947) was a student of noted American artist and illustrator Howard Pyle. A musician as well as an artist, DeLand was for a time a concert pianist, but decided to devote his career to painting and illustration. He specialized in scenes from American history and his work appeared in numerous historical novels as well as
magazines such as Harper’s Monthly, Cosmopolitan, the Ladies Home Journal, and American Boy.

With John Paul Jones was a gift to the library in 1908 from then Lieutenant Commander Edward L. Beach. Beach, an 1888 graduate of the Naval Academy, was himself the author of several series of books for boys, including four volumes about life as a midshipman from plebe to First Class year.

Paul Jones: A Naval Hero of the American Independence

London publisher Dean & Son issued James Ward’s Paul Jones: A Naval Hero of the American Independence as part of its Deeds of Daring Library. Although not necessarily a juvenile work, it was certainly geared to attract teenage boys. Its stiff colored paper covers and stock wood engravings indicate it was an inexpensive edition produced for the mass market. The publisher exhibited little concern for the accuracy of the illustrations, as exemplified by "Unfurling the American Flag," which clearly dates from the American Civil War, not the American Revolution. The image used for the battle between the Serapis and the Bonhomme Richard is probably a depiction of a sea battle from the early 1700s. Yet the engraving of John Paul Jones used in this edition is based upon Charles Willson Peale’s 1781 portrait.

The Story of John Paul Jones

Percy Keese Fitzhugh (1876-1950) wrote over 100 books for young readers. He was probably best known for his Tom Slade, Roy Blakeley, Pee-Wee Harris, and Westy Martin series, which were all about Boy Scouts and Scouting. The Young Folks Colonial Library series consisted of biographies of Revolutionary War heroes Ethan Allen, "Mad" Anthony Wayne, Francis Marion, Richard Montgomery, Johann De Kalb, and John Paul Jones.

The New York publisher McLoughlin Brothers was for many years the leading American supplier of children’s literature. The firm pioneered in the systematic use of color illustration and printing technology. In its heyday, it employed seventy-five artists, including Thomas Nast, Palmer Cox, Josephine Pollard, William Momberger, Ida Waugh, and Howard Pyle. Sarah Noble Ives was the illustrator for The Story of John Paul Jones . A collection of the company’s archival drawings and prints is located at the American Antiquarian Society.

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