February 16, 1936
My dear friend Bill:
Thanks for thinking enought of my books to want to make me the subject of a book report.
I was born on September 2, 1884. I'm quite fat, bald, wear glasses and my one big hobby is BOYS! I love 'em all, God bless 'em! I was born into a very poor family -- so poor were we, in fact, that I had to quit school when I was 13 and start supporting myself. I never had a chance to go back to school. At 13 I moved from Utica, Illinois (the Tutter of my Todd books), to Beloit, Wisconsin, where I started working in a machine shop learning the trade. Years later, when I was around 30, I got a position in the advertising department of that same firm. That is when I really began writing. Before that I had tried to write stories, but having had no training I failed. I had to learn to write in my new advertising work. After two years in advertising, in Beloit, I went to Detroit, to get "city" experience -- I was with the Burroughs Adding Machine Company for two years -- and it was there I wrote my first "kid" story. The company printed a little magazine for employees, and I started writing little "kid" stories for this magazine -- and the stories "took." I then made up my mind to get into a small town, where I could study people carefully, feeling that now I was able to write stories that would sell. So, with my wife and son, moved to Shelby, Ohio -- I was there four years, and it was in Shelby that I wrote my first stories for The American Boy -- The Rose-Colored Cat and The Oak-Island Treasure. I made a mistake there -- I sold the "Island" serial, not to the American Boy, but to the Boys' Magazine, now no longer published. In Shelby I also wrote part of Andy Blake. Publishers encouraged me to give all my time to writing for boys, so, after four years in Shelby, I moved back to Beloit, where I wrote Whispering Mummy, also competing Andy Blake. Shortly after I returned to Beloit, I bought a summer home at Lake Ripley, just out of Cambridge, Wisconsin -- we later made this over into an all-year home, and here I am. We've been here more than 14 years. I have a studio about a mile from home, an old farmhouse, and there I do my writing. The American Boy has serialized five of my books -- many others have been serialized by The Target and The Classmate, Methodist Sunday-school magazine, and the Presbyterian publications have serialized other of my books. Grosset & Dunlap have published 33 of my books -- see the enclosed list. Scoop, Red and Peg are real boys, and I've used their real names -- they were Shelby boys I got to know very well. Of course, they're men to-day. Jerry is largely myself, as he does the things I would have done if I handn't been so poor -- things I'd still love to do. Slats and Tail Light are real boys, living in Rockford, Ill. Poppy is my nephew -- his real name is Poppy Morse. While a few of my boy characters are real, the stories are all fictitious. I use many real settings for my books -- many of my adults are real people. I have done some short story work and some radio writing. Your pal,