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Horatio Alger, Jr. was born On January 13, 1832 in Chelsea (now Revere), Massachusetts. His father, Reverend Horatio Alger, was a Unitarian minister at the First Congregational Church and Society at Chelsea. Alger's mother, Olive (Fenno) Alger, was the daughter of a wealthy merchant and landowner. In December of 1844, Alger's parents moved to Marlborough, a town situated in the rolling hills between Boston and Worcester. Alger attended Gates Academy for the next three years, preparing for college. Alger noted in his Class Book that the tastes of the superintendent, Obadiah Wheelock Albee, "inclined him rather to mathematics and physical sciences than to the classics." Alger believed this balanced his education and forced him to devote more of his time to these subjects. Alger completed his studies at Gates Academy in 1847 at the age of fifteen. For the next seven years, Alger's life was anything but stable. He entered the Harvard Divinity School in September of 1853, but soon after withdrew to take a position as assistant editor for the Boston Daily Advertiser. In 1857, Alger re-entered the Harvard Divinity School to prepare for the ministry. On July 17, 1860, Alger graduated from the Divinity School and shortly thereafter, took his first ministerial assignment in Chicopee, Massachusetts. He began making plans for a grand tour of Europe and Great Britain, and made arrangements to write articles for the New York Sun to help defray expenses. Alger had three more books published in 1866: Timothy Crump's Ward; or, the New Year's Loan and What Came of it, Charlie Codman's Cruise, both of which were rewrites based on earlier serials he had written, and Helen Ford. All three novels were well received by reviewers, but sales were disappointing, as were his earnings. Early in 1867, Alger supplied a story to Student and Schoolmate entitled Ragged Dick; or, Street Life in New York. The tale centers around the life of a young bootblack, culled from Alger's interest in the lives of the "street Arabs," or boys who lived on the streets of New York. Ragged Dick was so popular and well received by the public that Student and Schoolmate signed Alger on as a regular contributor to the magazine. Later that same year, Loring published the story, slightly expanded, and had very favorable sales. Alger signed with Loring to write five additional novels as part of a "Ragged Dick Series." The additional five novels, published between 1868 and 1870 are: Fame and Fortune (1868), Mark the Match Boy (1869), Rough and Ready (1869), Ben the Luggage Boy (1870), Rufus and Rose (1870). None of the subsequent novels attained the acclaim or appeal that Ragged Dick received. Following the death of President James Garfield in 1881, From Canal Boy to President received good reviews and sold very well, encouraging him to write an additional two biographies for children: From Farm Boy to Senator (Daniel Webster) (1882) and Abraham Lincoln, the Backwoods Boy (1883). Until his health failed in 1895 and he was forced to retire, Alger poured out 537 novels and short stories (including variant titles), 94 poems, and 27 articles. On July 18, 1899, at the age of 67, Alger passed away at his sister's home in Natick, Massachusetts. His stories continued to be popular until the 1920s, when most publishers stopped issuing them.
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