Frank Stockton: Biography, Quotes & Facts

Instructor: Lynn Ramsson
Meet Frank Stockton, an American writer of children's stories and other literature. Stockton's famous 1882 short story 'The Lady, or The Tiger?' is beloved for its witty, humorous tone.

Stockton's Life & Work

Frank Stockton was an American writer born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on April 5, 1834. Stockton began publishing stories in 1855, but his first notable collection of stories for children, titled Ting-a-Ling Tales, was published in 1870. Stockton was best known for his invented fairy tales, which were often humorous in a way that was unusual for children's stories of this time period.

The tone of Stockton's fairy tales is what makes his writing unique. Stockton's stories do not deliver an obvious didactic message to the reader. Didactic messages are instructional, offering readers a moral education of sorts, and this writing style was typical of many writers of children's stories during this time period. Rather, Stockton delivers the stories in a straightforward manner that allows the reader to decide for him or herself what can be learned from the questionable behavior of the characters.

At other points in his writing career, Stockton became well-known for his humor writing, fantasy writing and for his novels. From 1887 onwards, Stockton wrote mainly for adults. In 1895, Stockton's adventure novel The Adventures of Captain Horn was very popular with his American readers. In fact, this title was the third best-selling book in the country that year. He also wrote a work of history in 1898, titled Buccaneers and Pirates of Our Coast.

Stockton's humorous and witty style gave critics reason to compare him to Samuel Clemens (better known as Mark Twain). A great example of Stockton's direct and frank style blended with his characteristic humor and wit is his famous short story, published in 1882, 'The Lady, or The Tiger?'

Famous Quotes

Frank Stockton, like many other important writers, said many interesting things about what he learned and experienced as a writer. Frank Stockton is credited for the following observations, both of which reveal something about his regard for the opinions of other people:

  • ''Most people are too silly to be truly interested in any thing. They herd together like cattle, and do not know what is good for them.''
  • ''I had my share of critics, and I wash my hands of the whole lot.''

This quote below reveals Stockton's sense of humor as well as his adept way with literary techniques like alliteration:

  • ''May you live to see the green grass growing over your grave.''

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