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Search >> Herbert, Henry William ( Frank Forester ) (1807-1858)

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Poet, Novelist, Journalist, Historian, Illustrator.

Henry William Herbert is best known by his sportswriter pseudonym: Frank Forester. Herbert emigrated to the United States in 1831 and he spent the following eight years working as a professor of Latin and Greek at a New York City school. Starr explains that his brilliance as a teacher was undeniable for “as a classical scholar he had few equals in this country . . . his knowledge of English history and literature was extensive; he was a pen-and-ink artist of marked ability; as a sportsman he was unsurpassed; his pupils idolized him.”

Herbert eventually left his teaching job and devoted himself entirely to his writing career. He co-founded the American Monthly Magazine in 1833 and, in 1835, he anonymously published the historical romance, The Brothers, a Tale of the Fronde. He published several other novels before transitioning into the mode of historical writing. He wrote The Knights of England, France, and Scotland (1852), The Captains of the Roman Republic (1854) and also continued to publish work in periodicals.

In 1839 Herbert began writing for the American Turf Register under the alias “Frank Forester.” As Forester, he published The Warwick Woodlands, or Things as They Were There Ten Years Ago (1845), My Shooting Box 1846, The Deerstalkers (1849), Frank Forester’s Field of Sports of the United States, and British Provinces, of North America (1849), The Quorndon Hounds; or A Virginian at Melton Mowbray (1852), The Complete Manual for Young Sportsmen (1856), and Frank Forester’s Horse and Horsemanship of the United States and British Provinces of North America (1857). These books also highlighted Herbert’s artistic ability--he drew many of the illustrations found within them.

Herbert committed suicide in 1858. His wife left him after only a few weeks of marriage and her departure brought on a fit of depression, which ended when he shot himself. Charles Hemstreet reveals how Herbert’s death affected the Pfaffians:
“It was [George] Arnold, too, who caused an hour of sadness when he took there the story of the death of Henry W. Herbert, who was well known to all the habitués. They all knew his life’s story; they had heard him tell of his father, the Dean of Manchester and cousin to the Earl of Carnarvon; they had heard him tell how he had come to New York from London, how he had taught in the school in Beaver Street near Whitehall, and how in that little school he had partly written his historical romance Cromwell, and how he had mapped out some of the others that followed it. They knew, too, how he had, under the name of ‘Frank Forester’, produced such books as American Game in its Season . . . and become famous by novel-writing. He was the first to introduce sports of the field into fiction in America. Some of his comrades knew the unhappiness that had crept into his life, but even his dearest friends were not prepared for the news which Arnold brought one day, that ‘Frank Forester’ had died by his own hand in a room on the second floor of the Stevens House, there in Broadway by the Bowling Green, not more than the throw of a stone from the place where, in his early days in New York, he had taught school” (216-217).

References & Biographical Resources

Fawcett, Edgar. "[Before I was famous]." Brooklyn Eagle. 25 May 1884: 9. [more about this work]
Herbert (who wrote under the name of Frank Forester) may be the "dreamy Frank" referred to in the poem. [pages: 9]
Gunn, Thomas Butler. Diaries, Vol. 5. Missouri Historical Society, St. Louis, 1852. [more about this work]
Gunn retells a story from Picton about Herbert: "This set Picton talking. Stories of Herbert (Frank Forrester.) How he, in an interview with Putnam had produced a four inch bowie knife, gravely laying it on the table, at the commencement. How he had awfully alarmed Stringer the publisher by chopping up a drawing on wood with said bowie knife, (drawing having been condemned by the little publisher,) and then – demanding payment for the same. More stories of all sorts credible & incredible." [pages: 110]
Haynes, John Edward. Pseudonyms of Authors: Including Anonyms and Initialisms. New York, 1882. [more about this work]
This text identifies the following pseudonym: Henry William Herbert (37). [pages: 37]
Hemstreet, Charles. Literary New York: Its Landmarks and Associations. New York: G.P. Putnam, 1903. [more about this work]
Hemstreet mentions that George Arnold caused "an hour of sadness when he took there [Pfaff's] the story of Henry W. Herbert, who was well-known to all the habitues" (216). According to Herbert's life story, his father was the Dean of Manchester and cousin to the Earl of Carnarvon. He had traveled to New York from London and taught at the school on Beaver St. near Whitehall. He wrote part of Cromwell, a "historical romance," at the school and had planned other stories. Herbert wrote several works under the name "Frank Forester": American Game in its Season, The Horse and Horsemanship in North America, and gained fame through novel-writing (216). Hemstreet claims he was "the first to introduce sports of the field into fiction in America" (216-17).

According to Hemstreet, "Some of his comrades knew the unhappiness that had crept into his life, but even his dearest friends were not prepared for the news Arnold brought one day, that 'Frank Forester' had died by his own hand in a room on the second floor of the Stevens House, there in Broadway by the Bowling Green, not more that the throw of a stone from the place where, in his early days in New York, he had taught school" (217). [pages: 216-217]
Lukens, Henry Clay. "American Literary Comedians." Harper's New Monthly Magazine. Apr. 1890: 783-797. [more about this work]
[pages: 793]
Parry, Albert. Garrets and Pretenders: A History of Bohemianism in America. New York: Covici, Friede, 1933. [more about this work]
Parry mentions that Herbert's (Frank Forester) suicide followed North's on May 16, 1858. Like North, Herbert was "another roving Englishman." Parry writes, "This prolific writer on game, the first in America to introduce hunting and fishing into ficiotn on an extensive scale , still read by hordes of rural American sportsman of today, was an aristocrat among the Bohemians of New York. He appeared among them rarely, and as seldom he included them among his guests at his New Jersey estate of the Cedars. An older man than most of the mansarders, he treated them with a certain touch of lordly superiority (he was, indeed, related to the Earl of Carnarvon), but he insisted that he was part of New York's Bohemia. The Pfaffians gladly accepted him as their own man. His literary temper tantrums and his stormy love affairs were among the most favorite topics in Clapp's circle. When his last young wife left him, Herbert-Forester arranged a grand dinner at the Stevens House on Broadway, near Bowling Green. There he invited his friends to eat, drink, and see him shoot himself dead before a large mirror" (49-50). [pages: 49-50]
Starr, Harris Elwood. "Henry William Herbert." Dictionary of American Biography. Base Set. American Council of Learned Societies, 1928-1936. Reproduced in Biography Resource Center. Farmington Hills, Mich.: Thomson Gale, 2006. http://www.galenet.com/servlet/BioRC. [more about this work]

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