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PARTON, James, author, born in Canterbury, England, 9 February, 1822. He was brought to the United States when he was five years old, and educated in the schools of New York city and at White Plains, New York After teaching in Philadelphia and New York city, he became a contributor to the "Home Journal," with which he was connected for three years. He has spent his life since that time in literary labors, contributing many articles to periodicals, and publishing books on biographical subjects. While he was employed on the "Home Journal" he remarked one day to a New York publisher that an interesting story could be made out of the life of Horace Greeley. When asked why he did not do it, he said that it would require an expensive journey and a year of labor. The publisher offered to advance the means, and he collected materials from the lips of Greeley's former neighbors in Vermont and New Hampshire, and produced the "Life of Horace Greeley" (New York, 1855; new and completed ed., Boston, 1885), which was so profitable that he determined to devote himself thenceforth to authorship. He has also lectured successfully on literary and political topics. He resided in New York city till 1875, when he removed to Newburyport, Massachusetts His first book was followed by a collection of "Humorous Poetry of the English Language from Chaucer to Saxe" (1856) Next appeared the "Life and Times of Aaron Burr," prepared from original sources, in which he sought to redeem Burr's reputation from the charges that attached to his memory (1857; new ed., 1864). In writing the "Life of Andrew Jackson," he also had access to inedited documents (3 vols., 1859-'60). His subsequent works are "General Butler in New Orleans" (1863 ; new ed., 1882) ; "Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin" (1864); "Manual for the Instruction of Rings, Railroad and Political, and How New York is Governed" (1866); "Famous Americans of Recent Times," containing sketches of Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, John C. Calhoun, John Randolph, and others (Boston, 1867); "The People's Book of Biography," containing eighty short lives (Hartford, 1868); "Smoking and Drinking," an essay on the evils of those practices, reprinted from the "Atlantic Monthly" (Boston, 1869); a pamphlet entitled "The Danish Islands: Are We Bound to pay for Them ?" (1869); "Topics of the Time," a collection of magazine articles, most of them treating of administrative abuses at Washington (1871); "Triumphs of Enterprise, Ingenuity, and Public Spirit" (Hartford, 1871); "The Words of Washington" (1872); "Fanny Fern : A Memorial Volume" (New York, 1873); "Life of Thomas Jefferson, Third President of the United States" (Boston, 1874) ; "Taxation of Church Property," a pamphlet (New York, 1874); "Le Parnasse Frangais, a Book of French Poetry from A. D. 1550 to the Present Time" (Boston, 1877); "Caricature and Other Comic Art, in all Times and Many Lands" (New York, 1877); a "Life of Voltaire," which was the fruit of several years' labor (Boston, 1881); "Noted Women of Europe and America" (Hartford, 1883); and "Captains of Industry, or Men of Business who did Something besides Making Money, a Book for Young Americans" (Boston, 1884).--His wife, Sara Payson Willis, author, born in Portland, Maine, 9 July, 1811; died in Brooklyn, New York, 10 October, 1872, was christened Grata Parson, after the mother of the preacher, Edward Payson, but the name was changed to Sara. She was educated in the schools of Boston and at Catherine Beecher's seminary in Hartford, and in 1837 married Charles H. Eldredge, cashier of a bank in Boston. In 1846 she was left a widow, with two children, in straitened circumstances. She attempted to gain a livelihood by sewing, then sought in vain the post of a public-school teacher, and at last, in 1851, began to write for Boston periodicals short articles that immediately attracted attention. For her first contribution only half a dollar was paid, but she was encouraged to persevere by seeing it copied into many newspapers. New York publishers soon offered higher rates for her sketches; a volume of them was brought out, of which 80,000 copies were sold, and after her removal to New York city in 1854 she began to write for the "New York Ledger." When she changed her residence to New York city she made the acquaintance of Mr. Parton, then an assistant of her brother, Nathaniel P. Willis, in the office of the "Home Journal," and they were married in January, 1856. She always retained the pen-name of "Fanny Fern," with which she signed her first piece, and had made it famous before even her friends knew that she was the writer. For sixteen years she furnished the "Ledger" with an article every week. Her published works, except two novels, were made up of the humorous, pathetic, and satirical essays and the short, tales that she contributed to the weekly press. Their titles are "Fern Leaves from Fanny's Portfolio" (Auburn, 1853), which was followed by a second series (New York, 1854) ; "Little Ferns for Fanny's Little Friends" (1854); "Ruth Hall," a pathetic novel based on incidents in her own life (1854); "Fresh Leaves" (1855); "Rose Clark," a novel (1857) ; "A New Story-Book for Children" (1864); "Folly as it Flies" (1868) ; "The Play-Day Book" (1869) ; "Ginger-Snaps" (1870) : and "Caper-Sauce : A Volume of Chit-Chat" (1872). Most of her books were republished in England, and there was issued also "Life and Beauties of Fanny Fern" (London, 1855). See "Fanny Fern: A Memorial Volume," containing selections from her writings, and a memoir by James Parton (New York, 1873).
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