Lawrence Hutton as a boy meeting Thackeray

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Charles M. Relyea (1863-1932), A Boy I Knew, 1896. Pen and ink drawing with gouache highlights. Graphic Arts GA 2006.01984

The American journalist Laurence Hutton (1843-1904) published his autobiography in four monthly issues of St. Nicholas magazine from December 1896 to March 1897, under the title “A Boy I Knew.” The memoir ends in Savannah around 1853, “when his father told him to observe particularly the old gentleman with the spectacles, who occupied a seat at their table in the public dining-room; for, he said, the time would come when The Boy would be very proud to say that he had breakfasted, and dined, and supped with Mr. Thackeray. …He did pay particular attention to Mr. Thackeray, with his eyes and his ears; and one morning Mr. Thackeray paid a little attention to him, of which he is proud, indeed. Mr. Thackeray took The Boy between his knees, and asked his name, and what he intended to be when he grew up. He replied, ‘A farmer, sir.’ Why, he cannot imagine, for he never had the slightest inclination toward a farmer’s life. And then Mr. Thackeray put his gentle hand upon The Boy’s little red head, and said: ‘Whatever you are, try to be a good one.’ And whatever The Boy is, he has tried, for Thackeray’s sake, ‘to be a good one!’”

In 1897, Hutton received the honorary degree of A.M. from Princeton University and published a hard cover edition of the memoir as: Laurence Hutton (1843-1904), A Boy I Knew and Four Dogs (New York: Harper, 1898). Laurence Hutton Collection (HTN) 3794.8.32