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Harold Frederic Letters

An inventory of his letters at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: KM
Date: Oct 1987

Biographical History

Harold Frederic (1856-1898) was an American journalist and novelist who served as the London correspondent for the New York Times.

Harold Frederic was born on August 19, 1856 in Utica, New York to Henry Frederick and Frances Ramsdell Frederick. His father, a railroad conductor, was tragically killed in a railroad accident when Harold was eighteen months old. Frederic spent his youth working on his step father's dairy farm. Around 1876, Frederic joined the Utica Daily Observer as a reporter. He worked his way up to editor and by 1882 he was asked to be editor-in-chief of the Albany Evening Journal. When the paper was sold in 1884 Frederic left for London to serve as the London correspondent of the New York Times.

Frederic married Grace Williams on October 10, 1877. Together they had two daughters, Ruth and Ruby, and three sons, Harold (d. 1887), Hereward, and Harold. In 1890, Frederic took Kate Lyon as his mistress. Since his wife, Grace, refused a divorce, Frederic began supporting two families in 1891. In addition to the five children from his marriage, Frederic had three children with Lyon. Frederic suffered a stroke in August 1898, leaving him partially paralyzed. He died October 19, 1898 at the age of 42.

Selected Works

1887 Seth's Brother's Wife; A Study of Life in the Greater New York
1890 In the Valley
The Lawton Girl
1891 The Young Emperor William II of Germany; A Study in Character Development on a Throne
1892 The New Exodus; A Study of Israel in Russia
The Return of O'Mahoney
1893 The Copperhead
1894 The Copperhead and Other Stories of the North during the American War
Marsena, and Other Stories of the Wartime
1896 Illumination (republished as The Damnation of Theron Ware)
Mrs. Albert Grundy; Observations in Philistia
March Hares, as George Forth
1897 In the Sixties
1898 The Deserter and Other Stories; A Book of Two Wars
Gloria Mundi
1899 The Market-Place

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Harold Frederic Letters consist of six outgoing items written between 1893 and 1898. There are three letters to Charles Dayton, who was responsible for guarding his legal interests in America while Frederic was abroad. The earliest letter offers Dayton congratulations on his appointment by Grover Cleveland as Postmaster of New York City. The other two items are of a business nature, the latest seeking advice about referring his legal affairs to another firm:

The Kernan-Quin office contains a lot of friends of mine, young as well as old, and I have thought of them as being likely to take hold of the thing with avidity, and watch it sharply. But of course I could not dream of speaking to them till I had consulted you. God knows what rules of bar-etiquette I may not have broken in the process of this consultation, but I know you will comprehend that none of the old and good ties of our friendship, have been strained by a hairsbreadth.

The remainder of the correspondence (Baxter, Forman, Gilliams) concerns arrangements for social engagements.

Arrangement of the Collection

The collection contains one series, Correspondence, which is arranged alphabetically by recipient.


Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

Related Material

The Rare Book collection at the Special Collections Research Center has copies of several of Frederic's works, including a copy of The Lawton Girl that contains a two-page letter from the author to H. H. Kimball.

Please search the Classic Catalog for a complete listing.

Subject Headings


Baxter, Sylvester, 1850-1927.
Dayton, Charles Willoughby.
Frederic, Harold, 1856-1898.


Attorney and client.
Journalists, United States.
Novelists, American.


New York (N.Y.), Social life and customs.

Genres and Forms

Letters (correspondence)



Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Harold Frederic Letters
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

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