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New York Folklore Quarterly, Vol. XVI, No. 2, Summer 1960

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NEW YORK FOLKLORE QUARTERLY
Vol. XVI, No. 2, Summer, 1960

HAROLD FREDERIC AND NEW YORK FOLKLORE
Robert H. Woodward

THE New York novelist Harold Frederic was among the first of the realistic regional writers. He was born in Utica, New York, in 1856, the son of a New York Central Railroad conductor and a seamstress. He was educated at the Advanced School in Utica, from which he was graduated in 1871. After four years of work as a printer and photograph retoucher, he began his career in journalism as proofreader on the Utica Morning Herald. Soon he transferred to the Utica Observer, and in 1880 he became editor of that newspaper.

From 1882 to 1884 he was editor of the Albany Evening Journal. Beginning in June, 1884, he lived in London, serving as correspondent for the New York Times. Except for two visits to the United States and occasional trips to the Continent and Ireland, he spent the remainder of his life in England. His Sunday cable letters in the Times earned him respect as a news analyst, particularly of Irish politics. He died after a stroke, on October 19, 1898.

In the course of his several novels and short stories dealing with New York principally during the quarter century 1865–1890, Frederic created a Congressional District, composed of three counties, a locality which, he said, could be identified in a general way with Central New York, but which should not be identified with any specific villages or towns actually in existence. Nevertheless, knowing that Frederic spent the first twenty-six years of his life in and around Utica, we may safely assume that his fictional towns named Octavius, Thessaly, and Tyre have their locality in the Utica area....





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