Memoirs of Stephen Burroughs.

Hanover, New Hampshire: Benjamin True [Vol. I]; Boston: Printed by E. Lincoln for Caleb Bingham [Vol. II], 1798-1804.

Price: $2,500.00

About the item

First editions of both volumes. [2], vi-vii, [2], 9-296; 202pp. 2 vols. 8vo (Vol. I) and 12mo (Vol. II). Modern brown leather-backed red cloth boards. Browning throughout, some foxing, dampstaining, worming and edge tears in vol. I, R2 in vol. II torn with loss to approx. eight lines of text. Howes B-1022 (“Picaresque adventures, perhaps somewhat exaggerated, of a New England rogue”); Evans 33478; Sabin 9466; Reese, Federal 72; ESTC W20739; Shaw 5957; Streeter sale 724. Provenance: Robert Stoddard, Jr., Groton Connecticut (early signature in vol. 1).

Item #321087

Notable account of an American scoundrel. Stephen Burroughs (1765-1840) was born in Hanover, New Hampshire, enlisted in the army at age 14. He soon deserted and was then admitted to Dartmouth College in 1781. He got into trouble, neglected his studies, and left before he was expelled. He went to Newburyport and joined a privateering vessel, later posing as a ship's physician. Returning ashore, he took up teaching, assumed the duties of a Congregationalist minister for six months in Pelham, Mass., whereupon he was arrested for counterfeiting. He escaped from Northampton jail by burning it down; was recaptured, imprisoned at Castle Rock, and again escaped. He fled to Canada and led a counterfeiting ring; shortly thereafter he reformed, converted to Catholicism, and retired to the life of teaching.

"One of the great criminal autobiographies, and an important piece of picaresque Americana" (Streeter). "The memoirs of a notorious swindler and con man, and one of the first such confessional works published in the United States" (Reese).

Published by two different publishers in two different locations six years apart, sets with both volumes are of great rarity.