“I ain’t knocked round the city streets all my life for nothin’,” proclaims Ragged Dick, the fast-talking boy hero of Horatio Alger’s classic rags-to-riches tale. Dick is a plucky street boy who smokes, gambles, and speaks ungrammatically—but he is also honest and hardworking, striving not for wealth and status, but for a steady job, a decent place to sleep, and respectability. A quintessential boy’s novel of adventure, romance, and coming of age, Ragged Dick brings to life the drama and perils of living among other young outcasts in the crowded streets of lower Manhattan. It is at the same time an exhilarating tale of one boy’s metamorphosis from a dirty street urchin to a handsome, self-respecting gentleman.
With an Introduction by Michael Meyer and a New Afterword by Bryan Waterman
About the Author
Horatio Alger, Jr. (1832–99), the son of a Unitarian minister, was born in Massachusetts. After studying at Harvard, Alger pursued a career in the ministry before moving to New York City, where he began writing his successful books for boys such as Luck and Pluck, Tattered Tom, Phil the Fiddler, and Struggling Upward. His eighth novel, Ragged Dick, was his first of many bestsellers.
Michael Meyer, Ph.D., is a professor of English at the University of Connecticut. Among his books, Several More Lives to Live: Thoreau’s Political Reputation in America was awarded the Ralph Henry Gabriel Prize by the American Studies Association. In addition to The Bedford Introduction to Literature, his edited volumes include Frederick Douglass: The Narrative and Selected Writings.
Bryan Waterman is Associate Professor of English and American Literature at New York University and co-editor, with Cyrus R. K. Patell, of The Cambridge Companion to the Literature of New York City.