Thornton W. Burgess

Thornton Burgess was an American author and naturalist best known for his beloved children's stories featuring animal characters. His imaginative and educational writings have captured the hearts of generations of young readers and have left a lasting impact on wildlife conservation.

Thornton Waldo Burgess was born in Sandwich, Massachusetts. He grew up in a rural setting, surrounded by nature, which fostered his love and curiosity for the natural world from a young age. He attended Sandwich High School and later enrolled at a business college in Boston.

Before Roger Tory Peterson's field guides and the Disney film Bambi, Thornton Burgess had already paved the way with his educational yet delightful nature books.

Burgess published his debut book, Old Mother West Wind, in 1910. This collection of whimsical stories introduced readers to a charming cast of animal characters, including Peter Rabbit, Jimmy Skunk, Bobby Raccoon, and Sammy Jay.

The Adventures of Peter Cottontail (1914) follows the escapades of Peter Cottontail, a lovable rabbit, as he encounters various challenges and predicaments in the Green Meadow and Green Forest. The story introduces young readers to the changing seasons and the rhythms of nature.

In The Adventures of Reddy Fox (1913), readers follow Reddy Fox as he navigates the trials and tribulations of the animal kingdom. Through Reddy's experiences, Burgess teaches lessons about honesty, responsibility, and the consequences of one's actions.

The Adventures of Sammy Jay (1915) introduces Sammy Jay, a mischievous and talkative blue jay, who is the central character in this book. Through Sammy's antics, readers learn about the importance of respecting others and the value of true friendship.

The Adventures of Jerry Muskrat (1914) explores the world around the main character Jerry Muskrat, who teaches readers about the significance of wetlands and the creatures that inhabit them. The book underscores the importance of preserving natural habitats.

The Burgess Bird Book for Children (1919) differs from Burgess's animal-centered stories, focusing instead on educating young readers about various bird species and their behaviors. The book is celebrated for its engaging narrative style, making ornithology accessible to children.

Thornton Burgess stayed true to his lifelong passion for conservation. He wrote over a hundred books and thousands of short stories until his death at 91.

Thornton Burgess passed away on June 5, 1965.

Photo credit: Cape Cod Museum of Natural History
years of life: 14 January 1874 5 June 1965


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