Nan saves three boys from drowning
Medium: Gouache on illustration board
Dimensions: composition: 7 1/2 × 8 1/4 in. (19.1 × 21 cm)
sheet: 10 1/4 × 12 3/8 in. (26 × 31.4 cm)
Illustration Citation: "Nan, the Newsboy" by W. H. Bishop, in St. Nicholas, August 1879
Credit Line: Gift of Helen Farr Sloan, 1983
About: W. H. Bishop's non-fiction article describes a young New York City man nicknamed Nan, who in the custom of the day is still called a news "boy." After his day of selling newspapers, he heads a group of friends as they voluntarily patrol the East River docks at night and rescue drowning people. Inspired by the new life-saving stations off the New Jersey coast, the boys are alert to accident victims and suicides. Here they accept help from a ferry to save a drunken longshoreman. The author praises Nan for not "drifting...into the usual courses of the loafers on corners" but for setting a "useful and noble example."
An illustrator and sculptor, James Edward Kelly was famous for his detailed historical scenes, often based on interviews with Civil War generals. In the late 1870s, he was sought after by the publishers Harper's and Scribner's; the latter was the publisher of St. Nicholas.
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