The great gift of Alfred J. Church to the world was to make the classics better known. To tens of thousands of youth he brought the grace, wonder, and beauty of the classical age, imparting its atmosphere in simple and faultless English.
—Junior Book of Authors.
For anyone interested in a classical education, books by the eminent author Alfred J. Church are invaluable resources. Church is especially gifted at exciting a real interest in classics for the intermediate student, that is, someone already familiar with the history of Greece and Rome, but who would like more interesting and in depth knowledge of these areas. Church's works are full of fascinating details that introductory texts must leave out, and they inspire an abiding interest in the ancients.
Church is one of the most prolific authors that we have found. Trained as a classicist, he began writing books for a general reading audience in the late 1870s. His first books were simplified classics, and although he wrote in many other genres, he is most well known for rewriting a variety of classical works. These were mostly from Latin and Greek, and were written in manner that is accessible and entertaining,yet retains a great deal of the flavor and scope of the original. His two books based on Herodotus for example, Story of the Persian War and Stories of the East From Herodotus are a reworking of much of the most famous sections of Herodotus' own Histories. Church's versions are less cumbersome than the verbatim translations, but still retain the same flavor, humor, and style of the original. His Greek Tragedians, and Greek Comedians provide significantly abridged versions of many famous Greek plays, but use excerpts from some of the best English translations at key points in order to preserve the humor and cadence of the original. His summaries communicate not only the basic plot line, but also the poetry of the classical playwrights.
More of Church's adapted classics include Stories From Livy, Stories from Virgil, Last Days of Jerusalem: From Josephus, and Nicias and the Sicilian Expedition, based on an account by Thucydides. His Stories of Charlemagne and the Twelve Peers of France is based on the Caxton translation and Stories of the Magicians is based on Southey's Oriental romances.
Most of Church's revised classics are directed toward middle and high school students, but he also wrote significantly abridged versions of The Aeneid, The Iliad, and The Odyssey for elementary students. These versions are completely rewritten from the original, as they inevitably must be to make them accessible to younger children, but they benefit from Church's thorough knowledge of the subject, and were three of Church's most widely read series.
We have already listed almost a dozen Church classics, and have only covered one of the many genres in which he wrote. He also wrote short biographies and historical vignettes, always emphasizing the most interesting aspects of ancient life and politics. Three of his best known works in this genre are Roman Life in the Days of Cicero, featuring short biographies of the contemporaries of Cicero; Pictures from Greek Life and Story, featuring biographies of the great Greeks; and Pictures from Roman Life and Story, which focuses mostly on the early years of the Roman Empire.
Yet another genre of Church's work was historical fiction. His approach was to introduce as much history as possible into an action packed narrative. His heroes are buffeted from one historically significant event to another, with just a few asides for love interests and dramatic escapes and rescues. Church's ability to weave tremendous amounts of historical detail into his stories without becoming tedious is astounding.
Church's two major fiction works involving Greek History are Callias - The Fall of Athens, set during and after the Peloponnesian War and Young Macedonian in the Army of Alexander the Great, set during the reign of Alexander the Great. Fiction works involving Rome include Lucius: Adventures of a Roman Boy set in the period of the late republic after Sulla but before Caesar, and Lords of the World set during the third Punic war.
Several of Church's books may be of particular interest to Christians, since they cover events important in Christian history. To the Lions is the story of an early Christian community in Asia Minor that was persecuted during the governorship of Pliny the Younger. Burning of Rome involves a failed assassination conspiracy against Nero, but has a subplot involving early Christians. Hammer, is the story of the Maccabee rebellion against the Macedonian overlords of Judea a few hundred years before Christ.
As is obvious from the breadth of his work, Church figures prominently in the our collection of Greek and Roman history. He provides a critical link between introductory knowledge of the Ancients and college-level study of the classics. Too often, college students are introduced to the great works of the Ancients with only a sketchy grasp of their history, and so fail to appreciate the extent of their contribution. To read Plato, Aristotle, Aristophanes, or any of the ancients with full appreciation requires a much better knowledge of ancient history than is typically provided to modern students.
In Who Killed Homer? Victor David Hanson laments the decline of classical learning in the universities. We disagree with none of his conclusions, but we believe that the revival of classical learning must start in home schools and high schools. We must produce a generation of students who are capable of comprehending the classics before a college-level revival of the classics will be possible. In this effort, we have no better resources that the contributions of Rev. Alfred J. Church.
"I must tell you, though, that this is not a history lesson, but a story-book. There are many facts in school histories, that seem to children to belong to lessons only. Some of these you will not find here. But you will find some stories that are not to be found in your school books,—stories which wise people say are only fairy tales and not history. But it seems to me that they are part of Our Island Story, and ought not to be forgotten, any more than those stories about which there is no doubt."
—H. E. Marshall
One of the most famous Storybooks of English History is, Our Island Story, by Henrietta Elizabeth Marshall. Published in 1905, it was widely read throughout the British Empire for the first half of the twentieth century, and did not go out of print until the mid 1950s. Marshall followed up this initial success with a series of other juvenile history books, written over the following two decades. She wrote in genres other than comprehensive history, but is best known for her three-part series on the British Isles, beginning with Our Island Story and following with Scotland's Story , and Our Empire Story .
Marshall's special talent for writing episodes from history as if they were fairy tales made her extremely popular with children, who were happy to read her books purely for entertainment. Her three books about British history, together with This Country of Ours, a history of the United States which focuses heavily on the colonial period, provide an excellent introduction to the history of the English speaking people throughout the world. They do so with a romantic, rather than an analytical or critical overview of the growth and dominance of Great Britain during the nineteenth century. Probably no nation is more responsible for the world-wide spread of modern ideas including parliamentary democracy and free trade than that Great Britain, and much of modern life is impossible to understand without a grasp of British history. Marshall does not attempt to explain these difficult concepts, but rather lays the initial foundation for understanding by inspiring a fascination with British history.
Following her great success with English histories, Marshall turned her talents to Europe. In 1912-1913 she published History of France, and History of Germany, as well as a condensed version of Continental history called Story of Europe . These, like her British series, were story based and lavishly illustrated.
In addition to her histories, Marshall contributed to several other series, including E. C. Jack's Told to the Children and Children's Heroes. She wrote a series of biographies as well, including those of Cromwell and Napoleon, which she used to teach geography lessons. Finally, her English Literature for Boys and Girls is an introduction to the history of English literature, from the Celtic and Saxon times to the late 19th century.
Just as Alfred J. Church is one of our anchor writers, for ancient history, H. E. Marshall is our flagship author for British history. While much of Church's work is most appropriate for somewhat mature audiences, Marshall's work is accessible at any age.
"I traveled—always on foot, and unaccompanied by other white men—about 8,000 miles. I shot, stuffed, and brought home over 2,000 birds, of which more than 60 are new species, and I killed upwards of 1,000 quadrupeds, of which 200 were stuffed and brought home, with more than 60 hitherto unknown to science. I suffered fifty attacks of the African fever, taking, to cure myself, more than fourteen ounces of quinine. Of famine, long-continued exposures to the heavy tropical rains, and attacks of ferocious ants and venomous flies, it is not worth while to speak."
—Paul du Chaillu
Now for something completely different. Church and Marshall were excellent writers, but they certainly wrote books that anyone would recognize as conventional history. Not so Paul du Chaillu, author of Stories from the Gorilla Country, a series of five books written for children about his adventures in the jungles of Africa. Yet du Chaillu is one of our all-time favorites, and one of the traditional writers that we are most determined to re-introduce to modern readers.
The reason this series is near the top of our list of favorite books has a great deal to do with its utterly unique and inimitable character. Written by one of the earliest American explorers of equatorial Africa, it has all of the attractions of a good Tarzan style adventure story, combined with the reflective philosophy of Robinson Crusoe. Du Chaillu's work differs from both of these however, in that it is the true account of the first American explorer to live among the interior tribes of equatorial Africa for an extended time. The author traveled by himself into the interior Africa, and lived with the natives for many years. In almost every situation, du Chaillu was the first white person ever encountered by these tribes. He was not a missionary. He was not affiliated with or sponsored by any government, university, church, or royal society. He was not attempting to develop the country for trade. He was merely a curious adventurer who was willing to risk his life many times over for the opportunity to see things no white man had seen before.
Paul du Chaillu was the son of a French-American trader who owned a trading station on the coast of Gabon in central Africa, and he accompanied his father on several long-term trips to Africa. He had much of his education at the Jesuit missions in the region, where he met and befriended dozens of natives and learned several of their languages. When du Chaillu was still a very young man, his father died. Instead of inheriting his successful trading business, du Chaillu decided to become an explorer, and embarked on a three-year journey into the interior jungles of central Africa. During his travels he lived with, hunted with, and befriended dozens of native Africans, learned several more languages, and collected hundreds of specimens of wildlife. He had innumerable adventures of such fantastic drama that upon his return to civilization, many who heard his tales believed that they were utterly fanciful.
After returning to America for several years, during which time he wrote an account of his adventures, he prepared for a new expedition across Africa, starting near the Congo Basin with the intention of exploring all of central Africa by foot. (This was over fifteen years before Stanley navigated the Congo River). The trials and tribulations of this unsuccessful expedition make the fifth and final book in his series somewhat darker in character than the earlier four, but all five taken together are delightfully riveting. Du Chaillu comes across as a sincere and curious fellow, greatly delighted by many of the sights and characters that he encounters. His approach, when writing for young people, is to explain his own reactions to difficult situations rather than to criticize the actions of others, and a great many of his escapades have humorous or ironic conclusions. One could not possibly invent a more interesting fictional hero.
Modern writers tend to be hypersensitive about negative stereotypes of negroes, and the desire to be politically correct often stifles an honest portrayal of basic human frailties. Du Chaillu's work is utterly devoid of such posturing. He grew up in Africa among the natives and knew them intimately as friends, hunting companions, mentors, protectors, nurses, and sometimes fiends and tyrants. He was an adventurer, not a professor. He lived among the natives not to study them, but to explore with them. Du Chaillu formed fast and lasting friendships among the natives, and his descriptions of them evince a deep understanding of human strengths and frailties. His personal descriptions are often humorous and sometimes tragic, but they are never dull, and they never descend into patronizing generalities.
The five books in du Chaillu's Stories of the Gorilla Country were written in the following order: Stories of the Gorilla Country, Wild Life Under the Equator, Lost in the Jungle, My Apingi Kingdom, and Country of the Dwarfs. The first book is the lightest, and shortest of the five, while the fifth is the longest and most frightening. Books I and II are largely anecdotal, while books III-V provide a chronological history of his two major expeditions. All five are a positive feast of information about a widely unknown continent and civilization.
"I want to thank you and your brother for Abbott's series of Histories. I have not education enough to appreciate the profound works of voluminous historians, and if I had, I have no time to read them. But your series of Histories gives me, in brief compass, just that knowledge of past men and events which I need. I have read them with the greatest interest. To them I am indebted for about all the historical knowledge I have."
As the quote above shows, even Abraham Lincoln was a terrific fan of the Abbott Histories. Their famous series was so well known and widely read that they were staples of virtually every American library from the time they were published in the mid-19th century until after the first world war. Both informative and terrifically entertaining, the Abbott brothers had an enormous talent for writing biographies and selecting those stories and anecdotal episodes from history that are of most interest to the general reader.
Jacob Abbott (1803-1879) was possibly the most prolific 19th century American writer of juvenile literature. He was born in Maine, the second of seven children. He and each of his four brothers graduated from Bowdoin College, studied theology, and became teachers or ministers. Three of the five boys became authors, and with his brother John Steven Charles (J.S.C.), Jacob authored the famous and widely read Makers of History series of biographies.
It was not until about 1848 that he and his brother embarked on the idea of doing a series of biographies aimed at young people. His target audience was age "15 to 25," and the Abbott brothers eventually produced a set of biographies that were critically acclaimed and widely read. Within a few years of their publication, the Abbott biographies became standard reference works of juvenile history and were available in libraries throughout America.
The Abbotts had a terrific gift for narrative, and their books all read as if they were high suspense novels. Although the vocabulary level is relatively high—more appropriate for high school or college than elementary school ages—the writing style is not difficult, and the stories move along at a fast pace. Abbott biographies have a delightful combination of action and adventure, along with truly interesting personality portraits, intriguing subplots, and fascinating secondary characters who should be appealing to both young men and young women.
Subjects of the Abbot Biographies include an enormous number of the most famous and fascinating characters in history:
Cyrus the Great, Darius the Great, Xerxes, Alexander the Great, Pyrrhus, Romulus, Hannibal, Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Nero, William the Conqueror, Richard I, Richard II, Richard III, Margaret of Anjou, , Mary Queen of Scots, Charles I, , Peter the Great, Genghis Khan, King Philip, Henry IV, Louis XIV, Hortense, Madame Roland, Joseph Bonaparte, Josephine, Maria Antoinette, Louis Philippe, Miles Standish, Kit Carson, Adventures of Chevalier de La Salle, and others.
If this is not impressive enough, the Makers of History series listed above was only one of dozens of series produced by the Abbott brothers. They wrote many more works that we have yet to include on our website. Their breadth of knowledge and skill as writers is no less that stunning, even after one hundred and fifty years.
"The pages of the record of man's doings are frequently illustrated by entertaining and striking incidents, relief points in the dull monotony of every-day events, stories fitted to rouse the reader from languid weariness and stir anew in his veins the pulse of interest in human life. There are many such,—dramas on the stage of history, life scenes that are pictures in action, tales pathetic, stirring, enlivening, full of the element of the unusual, of the stuff the novel and the romance are made of, yet with the advantage of being actual fact."
Charles Morris was a prolific American writer of the late 19th century. After a brief career in academics, he began publishing a great number of books and articles under various pseudonyms, but his piece de resistance was his Historical Tales, a collection of romantic and entertaining stories from history. This fourteen volume series contains history stories from the United States, South America, Greece, Rome, England, Spain, France, Germany, Russia, Scandinavia, China and Japan.
Although these tales are organized by civilization, and the stories occur in roughly chronological order, these books cannot be read as comprehensive histories, as he makes no particular attempt to tie them together, contenting himself to jump from one fascinating episode in history to another. For this reason, they are best read after one is already familiar with the basic outline of the history of a particular civilization.
On the other hand, Morris is an outstanding writing, and he picks fascinating subjects for his stories. The stories are selected largely for their entertainment value, rather than purely for historical significance so Morris treats his readers to a fascinating introduction to some compelling 'secondary' characters and events. He tells all of his stories in enough depth to make them truly entertaining, even when he is dealing with already well-known events. The Historical Tales are an entertaining treat, terrifically rewarding for intermediate or advanced readers of history.
Morris is one of the most prolific writers in our collection, and he wrote many books besides the Historical Tales. The majority of his other works features incidents or characters of American History, or Mexico. His True Stories of Our Presidents, and Heroes of Progress in America are written for younger students, as are several of his comprehensive histories. He wrote at least four comprehensive American Histories, at every reading level from Primary to College Prep. He also edited a Four Volume set of American Histories written by primary or secondary sources, called The Great Republic.
In addition, to comprehensive histories, Morris wrote fascinating, well documented histories of several important incidents in American History that occurred during his working life. These include volumes on the San Francisco Earthquake, the War with Spain, the Life and Assassination of William McKinley, and the Temperance Movement. He wrote several histories of the 19th century, including Nations of Europe and the Great War, and several books about the history of Mexico, including Story of Mexico.
Morris was one of several of our authors who combined an extraordinary talent for writing with superlative scholarship, and prodigious output. Most of his writing is directed to the general reader and is accessible to anyone who loves an interesting story well told.
"The purpose of this series of stories is to show the children, and even those who have already taken up the study of history, the home life of the colonists with whom they meet in their books. To this end every effort has been made to avoid anything savoring of romance, and to deal only with facts, so far as it is possible, while describing the daily life of those people who conquered the wilderness whether for conscience sake or for gain."
James Otis, was a prolific writer of children's books around the turn of the century. His specialty was fiction rather than history, but he produced a series of books about colonial children in America that is of particular interest, and is an outstanding resource for grammar school age children. The complete 12 book series includes 6 books that feature children settlers of the first thirteen colonies in American. It also include six books that tell the lives of pioneer settlers of a slightly different age who explored and settled the west with their families. All twelve books are extremely well researched, well illustrated, and sure to hold the interest of younger students.
The protagonist of each book is a ten to fourteen year old youngster who is one of the earliest settlers of a region or colony. The point of the series is not to deal in detail with political events, but rather to show the manner in which the children of early settlers and colonists lived in their every day lives. Important events and famous characters are mentioned, but only to the extent that they would be of interest to a young person, in the given situation.
Although these books are fictional, the level of detail in each is told with great deference to first-hand documented histories. Each story is told in the first person, in the voice of the subject child. It is a testimony to the great skill of the storyteller, that each character comes across as unique and authentic. Although they are written for young children they providing entertaining insights for older students and adults as well. The illustrations are simple but abundant, and compliment the story very well. This is a series that could be of interest to students of American history of any age.
The Colonial Children Series features young people who travel to Plymouth, Boston, Jamestown, New Amsterdam, Maryland, Philadelphia. The Pioneer Children Series features young peoples adventures in Kentucky, Ohio, Texas, California, Oregon, Colorado.
"Whether Sabin was contributing to the Trail Blazer series, published by J. B. Lippincott, or to the Great West and the Range and Trail series, issued by Crowell, his plots were ingenious and his research as meticulous as he could make it. . . .He did the best he could, scouring the country for primary sources and hard evidence. Perhaps no author of juveniles of the day labored harder to base his work on facts, or what were believed to be facts."
While we're discussing American History, we may as well mention Edwin Sabin, another extraordinary talented story teller. Sabin was a first rate historian of the American West. His three book series, featuring Boy's Frontier Heroes, covers almost all of the major battles in American history that were fought on American soil, excepting those of the Civil War. Sabin is sympathetic the cause of the native Indians, who figured in may of these battles, but also to that of the settlers. He applauds acts of bravery and patriotism on both sides.
Sabin's style of writing is most appealing to young men since it emphasizes action and feats of daring-do. The first book in the series, Boys' Book of Indian Warriors, focuses mainly on the early colonial battles with Indians, but also covers wars with the Plains Indians in the West. The second book, Boys' Book of Border Battles, focuses mainly on the south, including wars with Indians and Mexicans in Texas, and the Mexian-American War. The final book, Boys' Book of Frontier Fighters, features the conquest of the West, from the old Northwest to Colorado and the Santa Fe Trail.
In addition to the Frontier Fighter Series, Sabin wrote over a dozen books of historical fiction, also directed to intermediate readers. Far from being haphazard stories, they were all carefully researched and present a great deal of historically accurate information in an engaging, readable form.
Sabin's historical fiction, as well as his regular history stories are rich in detail. The dialogue, of course, is sometimes made up, but even then, it abounds with authentic character and accents. His Trail Blazer's series exemplifies the best kind of historical fiction. The plot lines often feature a young lad who accompanies a famous historical character on his feats of daring do. In the process, a very engaging, as well as historically valuable story is told, and a great deal of information is absorbed effortlessly on the part of the reader. The subjects of the Trail Blazers feature many of the most famous heroes of the West, including Buffalo Bill, Davy Crocket, General Custer, Zebulon Pike, Sam Houston, Kit Carson, and many others.
"Mr. Ober's story of Cortes belongs to the older rather than to the newer school of biography—that is, it seeks rather to interest the reader than to dissect the man. . ."
—NYT Saturday Review of Books
Frederick Ober is best known for his series of biographies, Heroes of American Exploration. The so called "heroes" of this series, include many of the most controversial explorers and conquistadors of early America. Cortez, Pizarro, Balboa and De Soto are some of the more notorious names of the early Spanish conquistadors whose lives and exploits are fully told in this fascinating series. One need not admire the more sanguinary deeds of these men in order to recognize the importance of their discoveries, or to be held spellbound by their reckless courage, tenacity and grit.
The stories of the lives of the explorers are intertwined with those of the first native inhabitants of the new world to encounter European civilization. In reading the biographies of these discoverers, therefore, one encounters the stories of such well-known chieftains as Cotubanama, Montezuma, Athualpha, Tuscaloosa, and many others. What is more, the stories of the natives are told in detail rather than in general, so the complicated nature of their alliances with, and conspiracies against the invaders is fully developed. The native peoples are not all portrayed as hapless victims, but rather as a broad variety of characters who sometimes trusted, sometimes resisted, sometimes allied themselves with, and occasionally won victories against the irrepressible Spaniards.
Likewise, the life stories of even the most wicked and murderous of the conquistadors are told with enough empathy that they appear recognizably human, and this three-dimensional characterization actually lends an even more chilling aspect to some of their atrocities than do modern versions. Broad generalizations only serve to mask the depth of character of both perpetrators and victims, and erase the features which lend interest and relevance to their life stories. These excellent biographies are both exceedingly informative, and far more interesting than shorter and more simplistic versions.
The author of this series was an ornithologist who lived for over twenty years in the West Indies and Caribbean, and his intimate knowledge of the region, which factored so importantly in the early history of the Americas, is apparent on every page. His histories are based almost entirely on original sources and are accurate and reliable accounts of the some of the most fascinating and important turning points in human history. The subjects of Obers Biographies include: Vasco Nunez de Balboa, Columbus the Discoveror, Hernando Cortes, Ponce de Leon, Ferdinand de Soto, Ferdinand Magellan, Pizarro and the Conquest of Peru, Amerigo Vespucci, John and Sebastion Cabot, and Sir Walter Raleigh.
In addition to his well known biographies of explorers, Frederick ober also wrote comprehensive histories of Spain and Latin America. His Spain: History for Young Readers, and Young Folk's History of Mexico are excellent introductory histories to these regions. Just as Alfred J. Church, and H. E. Marshall, introduced above, are flagship authors for Ancient and British history, respectively, Frederick Ober is one of our most important authors in the field of Hispanic History and exploration.
"I have known, and was personally known to the men, whose story I have endeavored to tell. They are now honored under the simple name of Genro,—statesmen of Revolutionary Times. Of the brilliant array of patriots whose names appear in these pages, only Ito, Inouye, and Okuma remain!"
—Robert Van Bergen
Robert Van Bergen was one of the first American scholars to study in Japan after its opening to foreigners in the 1860's. In addition to mastering Japanese and other oriental languages, he taught English to the Japanese and was personally known to many of the revolutionary statesmen of Japan who transformed the country from a feudal empire, with mediaeval customs to one of the most advanced technological countries in the world in only a single generation. Boy of Old Japan is the true life story of one of the Choshiu samurai who led the rebellion against the Tokugawa government in 1868. Although the subject himself was not personally acquainted with Van Bergen, (he died during the revolution), many of the other characters in the book were well known to the author. It is an insightful account of one of the most important periods of Japanese history.
All of Van Bergen's other books, which include comprehensive histories of China, Japan, and Russia are excellent introductions to the study of the Asian empires. They were written at the turn of the century, so they do not consider the dramatic dislocations in Russian and Asia during the 20th century, but instead provide excellent insights into indigenous eastern cultures, and the manner in which they first confronted the irrepressible forces of modernism.
James Baldwin—James Baldwin was one of the most influential educators and authors in the late nineteenth century. Beginning as an elementary teacher, he became the superintendent of the Indiana Public Schools in its early years, and spent his career helping to produce text books used in schools throughout the United States. At one time it was estimated that almost half of the books used in public schools were written or edited by Baldwin and most of his career was spent dedicated to producing good quality classic books for use in schools. Baldwin wrote books in a great variety of historical genres including legends, historical readers, American biographies, and Midwestern history.
Amy Steedman—Amy Steedman is best known for her religions stories, including both Biblical narratives for children, and saint stories. Examples of the former are The Nursery Book of Bible Stories, and David the Shepherd Boy. Examples of the latter include Our Island Saints, In God's Garden, and Legends and Stories of Italy. Many of her books are illustrated with religious art, and she also happened to write a number of stories about art, including the beautifully illustrated Knights of Art: Stories of the Italian Painters. She was a very talented writer and still a favorite among lovers of saint stories.
Eva March Tappan—Eva March Tappan was a teacher and author of dozens of children's books. She was a prolific author and editor, who eventually became one of the best known children's authors in the United States, and was one of the primary editors of the well-known The Children's Hour, a fifteen volume collection of popular juvenile literature. A great deal of Tappan's work was historical or biographical, often with special attention to arts and literature. Virtually all of her work is easily accessible to grammar school and middle school children, and many of her books were found in school libraries throughout most of the 20th century. Two series featuring Tappan's books that are currently on the Heritage Website are Makers of England and Heroes of the World, but she wrote many additional volumes as well.
M.B. Synge—Margaret Bertha Synge was a British author who is best known for her five volume introduction to world history, entitled Story of the World. She was, however, a prolific author, and wrote many other volumes, including Book of Discovery , Brave Men and Brave Deeds, and series of biographies of well-known Englishmen. Although the majority of works were written for grammar and middle school students, she was a serious scholar and also contributed to the Nisbet Self-Help Histories, and other series intended for more mature audiences.
Charles A. Eastman—Charles Eastman, a. k. a. Ohiyesa, was a Dakota Indian, born on a reservation, who eventually converted to Christianity and attended mission prep-schools and Dartmouth college. He became a physician, advocated for Indian rights, helped establish Y.M.C.A's in Indian regions, and was one of the original founder of the Boy Scouts of America. He wrote several books for children regarding Indian life. These include Indian Boyhood, Indian Heroes and Great Chieftains, and the Soul of the Indian.
Helene Guerber—Helene Guerber was a British author who wrote a series of Historical Readers intended for grammar School children that provides an excellent introduction to the major civilizations of world history. Each book in the series is divided into short chapters, each of which deals with a specific character or event, in order to make it as interesting and accessible as possible for young students. The civilizations covered by Guerber's Historical Readers include Greece, Rome, Britain, France (2 volumes), America (2 volumes), and Ancient Israel. They are nicely illustrated, reasonably short and provide a very entertaining initial introduction to each of the most important civilizations of Western culture. They are especially appropriate for a first foray into comprehensive history by older Grammar school students.
Oliver Otis Howard—O. O. Howard was a civil war General. Immediately after the war he became commissioner of the Freedman's Bureau, charged with helping find employment, education, and housing for newly freed former slaves. After ten years of working on behalf of the freed slaves, and helping to found a seminary (which was later became Howard University) he was placed by President Grant in the charge of the Indian Wars in the far west. In this position led the American Army in pursuit of the Nez Perce Indians on their flight to Canada, and he traveled throughout the west meeting with a number of other Indian chieftains. He wrote two children's books upon his retirement—Famous Indian Chiefs I Have Known, and Isabella of Castile.
John Esquemeling—John Esquemeling (a.k.a. Alexandre Esquemelin), was a 17th century Frenchman who lived in Tortuga in the West Indies for three years before joining Henry Morgan's famous band of pirates, probably as a barber-surgeon. He accompanied Morgan on many of his raids, learned of the exploits of all the important pirates in the region, and upon his return to Europe, wrote the definitive source-book on 17th century piracy. The version of his work, Buccaneers of America, carried by Heritage History is translated to English, wonderfully illustrated, and expurgated for middle school aged students.
Andrew Lang—Andrew Lang is best known as the author of the Rainbow Fairy Books, the most comprehensive collection of Fairy tales in the English language. He was, however, one of the most prolific writers in 19th century Britain, and wrote on every imaginable topic, from academic critics of mythology, to children's histories. Some of his children's histories in Heritage Histories collection include the Story of Joan of Arc, Arabian Nights Entertainments, Book of Saints and Heroes, and Red Book of Heroes. Although he collaborated with his wife on many of his children's books, she always referred to herself as Mrs. Andrew Lang and insisted on keeping a low profile. His nephew and daughter-in-law, John and Jeanie, were another husband and wife team who contributed a dozen additional books to T. C. and A. C. Jack's, Told the Children and Children' Heroes series.
Charles Gibson—Charles Gibson was one of the most popular juvenile science writers of the early 20th century. Whether he writes about scientific discoveries and inventions—as he did in War Inventions and How they were Invented, Twentieth Century Inventions, and Wonders of Scientific Discovery—or about the scientists themselves, as he did in Stories of Great Scientists, he writes with terrific interest. He is especially good at explaining important technological discoveries and inventions in layman's terms and his books are all easily accessible to middle school students.
Edward Eggelston—Edward Eggleston was a very popular children's writer of the late 19th century. He was primarily a fiction writer, but he wrote a series of historical readers for the American Book Company which were used widely in schools throughout the United States as primary American history books. These included Great Americans for Little Americans, Stories of American Life and Adventure, and First Book in American History.
Lawton Evans—Lawton Evans was an elementary school teacher and administrator from Georgia and an extraordinarily talented writer of children stories. Three of his books, America First (stories from America's history), Old Time Tales (stories from European history), and Heroes of Israel (stories from the Old Testament), are some of our most popular books. They each tell exciting stories from history in a manner as charming as fairy tales, and are excellent for read-aloud. Evans wrote a number of other books that are of equally good quality, but many were published after 1923, our cut-off date for public domain texts.
James Willard Schultz—James Willard Schultz was born in New York, but went to Montana to hunt buffalo in 1877 and never returned home. He married a Blackfoot Indian woman and settled in the region of Montana that is now Glacier National Park. He wrote many books for young people, mostly based on true events that occurred to himself or the Indians, traders and trappers he lived with in the old west. Some of his more well known books include With the Indians in the Rockies , On the Warpath, and Gold Cache.
Nathaniel Hawthorne—Nathaniel Hawthorne is one of the better known American authors of the 19th century, but is most well known for his adult fiction. His two books on Greek mythology however, the Wonder Book for Girls and Boys, and Tanglewood Tales, written for juveniles, were two of his all-time, best selling works. They were the most popular books of Greek mythology in the United States for many decades and are still among the best written stories of their kind.
Mary Macgregor—Mary Magregor was a British Author, and a contemporary of H. E. Marshall, whom we wrote about earlier. She was nearly as prolific as Marshall, and contributed to some of the same T. C. and A.C. Jack Series, namely Told to the Children, and Stories from History. In addition, she wrote a number of major comprehensive histories that are exceptionally good introduction. Her Story of Rome, Story of Greece, and Story of France, are comparable to Helene Guerber's works on the subject, but are written in somewhat more detail (middle school instead of late grammar reading level). In addition, The Netherlands, written for the Romance of History Series, is an exceptionally good history of the revolt of the Netherlands during the age of William the Silent.
Lucy Fitch Perkins—Lucy Fitch Perkins is best known as the author of the Twins of the World series, a popular historical fiction series featuring girl and boy twins from countries around the world. The stories are very charming and appropriate for third through sixth graders. They are mostly set in the 19th and early twentieth century and tend to focus more on the daily lives of the children than political events. The French Twins and Belgian Twins however, were written during the Great War, and so are particular exciting as the children undergo real privations and danger. Other countries covered include Holland, Northern Canada (Eskimo Twins), Japan, Mexico, Scotland, Ireland, and Switzerland. In addition to her more modern works, her Puritan Twins, and Spartan Twins are set in remote time periods.
George Towle—George M. Towle was a Harvard educated Lawyer who got his start as an author by translating the works of the French author Jules Verne into English. Once he began writing books on his own, he became best known for his series on explorers and discoverers. He published volumes on Travels and Adventures of Marco Polo, Voyages and Adventures of Vasco da Gama, Drake, Raleigh, Magellan, and Pizarro. He also wrote a History of Ireland, and several lesser known biographies.
John Haaren and A. B. Poland—The authors of Famous Men of Rome, and Famous Men of Greece, are already well known to most homeschoolers, but we felt obliged to mention their excellent series. All four of their books, including Famous Men of the Middle Ages, and Famous Men of Modern Times, are beautifully illustrated, and a wonderful introduction to World History for students of any age.
We have listed here less than 30 of more than 150 classical authors that are currently featured on Heritage History. Although this lists includes many of our most prolific authors, it excludes dozens of others who are worthy of note. The names of all authors whose books are included in the heritage history library can be found by searching for books, listed by author name.