Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Ragged Dick (Ragged Dick, #1)” as Want to Read:
Ragged Dick (Ragged Dick, #1)
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Ragged Dick

(Ragged Dick #1)

3.31  ·  Rating details ·  2,296 ratings  ·  275 reviews
A novel, subtitled 'street life in New York with the boot-blacks' from a popular figure in the history of American social ideals ...more
Paperback, 120 pages
Published August 21st 2006 by Echo Library (first published 1868)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Ragged Dick, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Ragged Dick

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 3.31  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,296 ratings  ·  275 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Ragged Dick (Ragged Dick, #1)
Jun 30, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a story of a 14-year-old boot-black finding a way to rise to a better life (though still way below what his end goal must be, but it's not part of this book - the next book "Fame And Fortune" has that, though reading it at Project Gutenberg is to me preferable to owning it). It's set around the time when Central Park is still not quite finished, which points us to the time point of circa 1873ish. The book's covers the time of about a year.

Ragged Dick manages to progress partly because of
Horatio Alger was the inventor, or at least the popularizer, of the "pull yourself up by your bootstraps" ethos in America. I heard his name many times growing up, but no one reads his books anymore. This is partly because they're not very good: "There is no doubt that what he wrote was bilge, but it was inspired," says one critic* who's being as nice as he can.

Another reason is that his books are wicked ephebophilic. They all feature a poor but good-hearted teenage boy who betters his lot under
catherine ♡
I actually read this when I was in elementary school, and I love it even now! It's funny, engaging, and inspiring, as it follows the story of Dick Hunter from his position as a lowly bootblack to an honorable member of society. One of my favorite childhood stories :) ...more
Laura Verret
Horatio Alger, Jr.'s style is rather like G. A. Henty's in that, once you’ve read three or four of his novels, you’ve practically read all of them because he repeats the same plots over and over. But those first four stories are enjoyable enough. =)

The Story.

Ragged Dick’s life as a bootblack is straightforward. He scrambles himself up real early each mornin’ – ‘cause that’s when the best customers is up and movin’ – and racks up some business. Then, for the rest of the day, he spends his money b
Karen Chung
Aug 18, 2014 rated it liked it
I was looking for a bedtime audio book and this one came up on the Librivox site. "A Horatio Alger rags-to-riches story" is so often referenced in our culture and language that I thought I really should find out firsthand what they were like, and picked this one. It's the first in a series, and probably the best, judging from the comments of other readers. It was in later works that the plotlines became repetitive and stale - and Alger was very prolific.

Frankly, I enjoyed the book, quite a bit.
12 MAR 2018 - a group read with the 19th Century Literature Group at Yahoo. The read begins next Sunday - all are welcome. I am leading this read so I am starting a bit early to gather notes and extra information.

Project Gutenberg here -

9 APR 2018 - a terrific feel-good story of how a young boy raises himself up through hard work and dedication.
Carla Remy
Feb 07, 2021 rated it liked it
From 1867
I had heard of Horatio Alger more as a term than a writer. I knew what he stood for. The American Myth.
Ragged Dick is a young teen and a homeless shoe shine boy. He does well at his profession, due to his sociable work ethic and sense of humor. Also he doesn't steal. He has the good luck to meet wealthier people who give him better clothes and teach him to manage his money. And constantly tell him how anyone can get rich with hard work and the right attitude.
I can't help but think t
Sep 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
"Ragged Dick"; or," Street Life in New York with the Boot Blacks" is a novel by Horatio Alger, Jr. It was first serialized in "The Student and Schoolmate" in 1867, and released as a full length novel in May 1868. It was the first volume in the six volume Ragged Dick Series, and became Alger's all-time bestseller. When I first read this I of course, had to find out what "The Student and Schoolmate" was and here it is:

"The Student and Schoolmate" was a 19th-century monthly American children's maga
May 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was not nearly as satisfying a read as four stars suggests. We have our protagonist, Dick Hunter who behaves well and fortune smiles upon him. He doesn't become a savvy businessman, instead people give him opportunities and he betters himself.

I wish it was longer but I understand there is a second novel to follow up on his adventures.

I'm too tired to suggest any homoerotic undertones. Perhaps the general lack of women is due to the perspective of masculine society at the time?

Be nice to o
Alethea A
Apr 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Proto-YA, orphan story, rags to riches, and quite a hoot. I also now really really want some beefsteak and coffee.

Read for YABC May 2013
hours of my life I'll never get back ...more
Robbie Fraser
Jan 13, 2021 rated it liked it
Brilliant rags-to-riches story which has me ready to run through a brick wall. Great insight into urban life in the late 19th century might I add.
Sort of hilariously preachy! Listen, kids, if you just work hard and work hard some more, your life will be totally wonderful! Presumably this book is famous more for its rags-to-riches propagandist importance to Being A Good American rather than for its awesome writing. But I still thought it was a pretty fast and not-annoying read, as long as I was willing to roll my eyes at the more didactic passages. Also, I apparently forgot to take off my slash goggles while reading, because the Force was ...more
Apr 06, 2014 rated it liked it
What I really liked about this book was the description of life in NY city in the late 1800s. The actual story is a bit different from the Horatio Alger mythology of going from rags to riches, it's more like going from crushing poverty to middle class. While our plucky little protagonist Ragged Dick does have a sense of integrity, is personable, and is quite the hard-worker, but he also relies on good fortune for opportunities that he wouldn't otherwise be offered. It is quite cliched, but it is ...more
Nancy Ellis
Nov 10, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle
I had heard of Horatio Alger, of course, but had never read anything written by him until beginning a course in Great American Bestsellers. Published in 1868, it was the first of nearly 100 books written in his lifetime, selling a million before his death and millions after his death. Each book has pretty much the same theme: orphaned boy rises from poverty to respectability (considered to be more important than wealth, although it often results in affluence) through a combination of good behavi ...more
Apr 18, 2018 rated it liked it
The story of a young boy progressing himself both economically and socially in 19th century New York offers an intriguing viewpoint on American capitalism at the time, and how this has progressed to modern day. Alger clearly promotes the idea that hard work and dedication will unwaveringly lead to economic, and subsequently social success, and that this is the major redeeming trait in mankind. Of course, it isn't to say this is right, but merely an interesting reflection of the time.

The text is
Lynn Rainsford
Mar 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
I've been to several historical lectures about the Irish immigration to NYC in the 1800's. Each time the lecturer recommended reading this book by Horatio Alger. It was written for young people, a pleasant read about a really terrible time and place for poor immigrants newly arriving from Ireland. The author downplayed the seriously dangerous and deadly living conditions, and the book does give a sort of whitewashed feeling of life in that time and place. Since this was directed at a young audie ...more
Hannah Wales
This book was delightful in every way. It is a short, quick read, but I so quickly became attached to Dick and deeply invested in his life. It is such a feel-good, happy story and I loved every second of it. I was assigned it as part of American Literature and this is by far one of the top assigned books I've ever enjoyed. I recommend it to absolutely everyone because it is so lovely and a genuine pick-me-up. ...more
Luke Eadie
Dec 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: classics
How many swindled young men does Dick meet in a day?
Weston Richey
Imagine writing a book and naming it Ragged Dick.
I read this for a class and would probably give it negative stars if I could just because of the title.
Jun 13, 2017 rated it really liked it
An amazing story about a boy named Ragged Dick, who, through respect and honesty, rises up from the life of a boot-black, to that of an educated man. It was interesting to read about how Dick managed to live on New York's streets, while keeping his dreams alive of being a respectable man. I really enjoyed reading about Dick's progress, and loved the encounters he had along the way. An overall enjoyable read! ...more

This takes a lot of suspension-of-belief but I enjoyed it nonetheless. I ended up rooting for Dick Hunter.
Sep 30, 2010 rated it liked it
This turn of the century formula for righteous living is charming. Dick is a homeless child who has taken care of himself as long as he can remember. He is very street smart. But he aches to be rich and refined and when he meets a younger version of himself he stives to protect him. Through good deeds he meets his "salvation" and is provided with a job and gets off the streets. Alger Jr. wrote a series followning Dick through his exploits. ...more
Joey Woolfardis
Jun 25, 2018 rated it did not like it
Written for another time for different people. When you could trust people based solely on the fact they didn't look like lizards in human skin. And all you needed to be was clean and the whole world opened up to you.

Written to inspire a generation of Americans to pull their socks up and just get on with it, even if you've no roof over your head and food is often scarce. At least you're still alive and, more importantly, American. You can do ~anything~

But still terrible. What-ho.
Julia Good-Reads
Mar 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A simple book but what an amazing slice of life in old New York. I loved the images this gave me of the orphans and street life in the days when Central Park was just beginning to be constructed. I loved the rags to riches theme. I think of scenes and concepts from this book pretty often. I wish it had a less unfortunate title.
Eden Kidane
Sep 05, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I picked up this book at a second-hand book store after coming across the title in an audio series ‘Great American Bestsellers: The Books That Shaped America’. A hundred and fifty-three pages; enjoyed reading it in one sitting. Although not so extraordinary, I found the main character/protagonist likable, full of integrity and possessing characteristics that we all strive for.

Published in 1867, 150 years ago, Ragged Dick is Horatio Alger’s first of a series of books in juvenile literature. It i
Michael Armijo
Jan 10, 2021 rated it it was amazing
I loved RAGGED DICK. I know. It is a bizarre title but allow me to explain:

During the start of the Covid19 pandemic I got started on an HBO series known as BOARDWALK EMPIRE. It takes place in Atlantic City. Amidst the story, the lead character(Nucky) played by Steve Buscemi had relished over a book that his mother gave him as a young boy. He handed the book down to his nephew to learn valuable lessons in life.

I was intrigued, so I found the book on Amazon by Horatio Alger. It was really a short
Horatio Alger wrote books for boys until his death in 1899. His books continued under the Stratemeyer syndicate for several years afterward.

Alger’s books are extremely formulaic and follow one of three themes: 1. poor boy who betters himself through a combination of luck (rescuing a rich person , intelligence, and courage; 2. Poor boy, who is really the kidnapped son of a wealthy family, who better himself through a combination of luck, intelligence, and courage; and 3. Middle class boy runs awa
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. I didn’t know anything about Horatio Alger Jr., so I didn’t realise the wealth of good morality books available for boys in the later part of the 1800’s.

Due to the kindness of a gentleman and his nephew, Ragged Dick begins to see that he could do better than be a penniless boot black with no fixed abode. After he has offered to show the younger man around New York City, they first give him a cast off suit belonging to the nephew...partially out of generosity and partl
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: correct page count 1 14 Jul 31, 2018 08:09PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • How the Other Half Lives
  • A Little Pretty Pocket-Book
  • Der Struwwelpeter
  • Maggie: A Girl of the Streets and Other Tales of New York
  • The Rise of Silas Lapham
  • Babbitt
  • The Coming Race
  • Emma's Poem: The Voice of the Statue of Liberty
  • The Marrow of Tradition
  • 12 Million Black Voices
  • Evidence (Aspen Student Treatise Series)
  • Immigration and Citizenship: Process and Policy (American Casebook Series)
  • The Knife Slipped (Cool and Lam #1.5)
  • A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump's Testing of America
  • The Ivory Grin (Lew Archer #4)
  • The Wolves
  • The Boston Tea Party
  • How I Discovered Poetry
See similar books…
Horatio Alger, Jr. (January 13, 1832 – July 18, 1899) was a prolific 19th-century American author, most famous for his novels following the adventures of bootblacks, newsboys, peddlers, buskers, and other impoverished children in their rise from humble backgrounds to lives of respectable middle-class security and comfort. His novels about boys who succeed under the tutelage of older mentors were h ...more

Other books in the series

Ragged Dick (6 books)
  • Fame and Fortune (Ragged Dick, #2)
  • Mark the Match Boy (Ragged Dick, #3)
  • Rough and Ready (Ragged Dick, #4)
  • Ben, the Luggage Boy (Ragged Dick, #5)
  • Rufus and Rose (Ragged Dick, #6)

Related Articles

Angeline Boulley set out over a decade ago to write the story she wanted to read as a young Ojibwe teenager. The result is Firekeeper's Daughter,...
6 likes · 0 comments