The Peterkin Papers
Lucretia P. Hale
Children
5:10 h
Level 3
The Peterkin Papers is a book-length collection of humorous stories by American author Lucretia Peabody Hale, and is her best-known work. The first of the Peterkin stories appeared in 1867 in the magazine Our Young Folks, which merged in 1874 with the new children's monthly St. Nicholas Magazine. The series continued for nine years, and made the Peterkins a household word. The collected stories were published in 1880 as The Peterkin Papers. The Peterkins were a large family who were extremely intelligent, but didn't have a lick of common sense among them. Whenever they were confronted with a problem that had a simple solution and a complex one, they unerringly went for the complex one--the simple one never occurred to them. They were usually rescued by their neighbor, the Lady from Philadelphia, known for her wisdom; which usually amounted to the plain, commonsense solution that had been staring them in the face and which any normal person would have seized on immediately.

The Peterkin Papers

by
Lucretia P. Hale


Mrs. Peterkin puts salt into her coffee.

Dedicated
To
Meggie (The Daughter of The Lady From Philadelphia)
To
Whom These Stories Were First Told


Preface to the Second Edition of the Peterkin Papers

The first of these stories was accepted by Mr. Howard M. Ticknor for the “Young Folks.” They were afterwards continued in numbers of the “St. Nicholas.”

A second edition is now printed, containing a new paper, which has never before been published, “The Peterkins at the Farm.”

It may be remembered that the Peterkins originally hesitated about publishing their Family Papers, and were decided by referring the matter to the lady from Philadelphia. A little uncertain of whether she might happen to be at Philadelphia, they determined to write and ask her.

Solomon John suggested a postal-card. Everybody reads a postal, and everybody would read it as it came along, and see its importance, and help it on. If the lady from Philadelphia were away, her family and all her servants would read it, and send it after her, for answer.

Elizabeth Eliza thought the postal a bright idea. It would not take so long to write as a letter, and would not be so expensive. But could they get the whole subject on a postal?

Mr. Peterkin believed there could be no difficulty, there was but one question: —

Shall the adventures of the Peterkin family be published?

This was decided upon, and there was room for each of the family to sign, the little boys contenting themselves with rough sketches of their india-rubber boots.

Mr. Peterkin, Agamemnon, and Solomon John took the postal-card to the post-office early one morning, and by the afternoon of that very day, and all the next day, and for many days, came streaming in answers on postals and on letters. Their card had been addressed to the lady from Philadelphia, with the number of her street. But it must have been read by their neighbors in their own town post-office before leaving; it must have been read along its way: for by each mail came piles of postals and letters from town after town, in answer to the question, and all in the same tone: “Yes, yes; publish the adventures of the Peterkin family.”

“Publish them, of course.”

And in time came the answer of the lady from Philadelphia: — “Yes, of course; publish them.”

This is why they were published.