In his day, Christopher Pearse Cranch (1813–1892) was a well-known figure in American arts and letters, with close ties to the New England Transcendentalists. His most enduring achievements are his novels for children. Collected here for the first time in one volume, these three works—The Last of the Huggermuggers, Kobboltozo: A Sequel to the Last of the Huggermuggers, and The Legend of Dr. Theophilus; or, The Enchanted Clothes—establish Cranch as a pioneer in American fantasy fiction.
Huggermuggers (1856) and Kobboltozo (1857) went through several printings during the last half of the nineteenth century but were not reissued until the initial publication of this volume in 1993. These novels relate the escapades of a shipwrecked American boy, Jacky Cable, and the gentle giants and evil dwarfs who inhabit the island on which he is marooned. The manuscript of Cranch’s last unpublished novel, The Legend of Dr. Theophilus, disappeared around 1870 and did not resurface until the early 1980s. The story revolves around a faraway place where the sun cannot penetrate the fog and where a suit of enchanted clothes can cause mayhem and grief.
As the editors explain in their introduction, Cranch was the first American author to write novel-length works solely for children, and to fuse elements of fantasy and adventure. In an era when most juvenile books emphasized moral rectitude and acquiescence to adult authority, Cranch put a higher premium on humor and the imaginative aspects of storytelling. Written during an important transition in the history of American children’s literature, these three novels are of special interest to scholars of American Romanticism. Perhaps most important of all, they have not lost their attraction for young readers.