Ragged Dick is a 14 year old bootblack, he smokes, drinks occasionally, and sleeps on the streets, but he is anxious to turn over a new leaf, and try to grow up spectable . He won't steal under any circumstances, and many gentlemen who are impressed with this virtue (and his determination to succeed) offer their aid. Mr. Greyson, for example, invites him to church and Mr. Whitney gives him five dollars for performing a service. Dick uses the money to open a bank account and to rent his first apartment.'
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.