Horatio Alger, Jr. was a prolific 19th-century American author, most famous for his novels following the adventures of bootblacks, newsboys, peddlers, buskers, and other impoverished children in their rise from humble backgrounds to lives of respectable middle-class security and comfort. His novels were hugely popular in their day.
Born in Chelsea, Massachusetts, the son of a Unitarian minister, Alger entered Harvard University at the age of 16. Following graduation, he briefly worked in education before touring Europe for almost a year. He then entered the Harvard Divinity School, and, in 1864, took a position at a Unitarian church in Brewster, Massachusetts. Two years later, he resigned following allegations he'd molested two teenage boys. He subsequently retired from the ministry entirely and moved to New York City where he formed an association with the Newsboys Lodging House and other agencies offering aid to impoverished children. His sympathy for the working boys of the city, coupled with the moral values learned at home, were the basis of his many juvenile "rags to riches" novels. He died in 1899.