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Patten, Gilbert (1982)

Gilbert Patten aka Burt L Standish

Back There from Here

Corinna’s Gilbert Patten, writing under the pseudonym of Burt L. Standish, used players of the old Waldo County League as models for his famous Frank Merriwell stories. Without fancy frills or a lot of money, these ballplayers were millworkers, loggers, machinists or day laborers, but their Saturday and Sunday afternoon games drew huge crowds.

Gilbert Patten (October 25, 1866 – January 16, 1945) was a writer of dime novels. He is best known as author of the Frank Merriwell stories, with the pen name Burt L. Standish.

William George Patten, later known as Gilbert Patten, was born in Corinna, Maine, October 25, 1866, the son of William Clark Patten, a house carpenter, and his wife Cordelia Simpson. They were Seventh Day Adventists although they belonged to no regularly organized church. After passing through grammar school, William Jr. worked in a machine shop for a few months, then entered Corinna Union Academy in 1880. It was during this period that he sent his first sketch, "A Bad Man," to the Banner Weekly. It was rejected at first, and Patten sent in "The Pride of Sandy Flat." Reconsideration had passed the first story, and Patten received six dollars for the two. In the summer of 1883 he got a job as reporter on the Dexter Eastern State, then on the Pittsfield Advertiser, and re-entered the Academy in the autumn. He had many short sketches in the Banner Weekly from 1885 to 1887, and in 1886 his first long story was published as a Half-Dime Library. It was entitled "The Diamond Sport; or, The Double Face at Bedrock," and for it he received $50. Launched as a writer, he decided to get married, and on October 25, 1886, was united to a schoolmate, Alice Gardner. During 1887 he had two stories published as Half-Dime Library. "Captain Mystery," for which he received $75, and "Daisy Dare," which brought him $100. In 1888 he sent but one story to Beadle, but began the publication of a weekly paper in his home town The Corinna Owl. This struggled along for a year and was then sold to the rival Pittsfield Advertiser.

In 1889 Patten's parents removed to Camden, Maine, and the young couple accompanied them; there William, Jr., continued his literary work, selling four Half-Dimes and two Dimes to Beadle that year, and four Half-Dimes and two Dimes in 1890, besides various sketches and poems. In the summers of 1890 and 1891 he managed a professional baseball team. In 1891 he removed to Brooklyn and wrote for Beadle for a time, but after falling out with the publishers transferred to Norman Munro's Golden Hours, for which he wrote a number of serials under his own name. Most of these were later reprinted in the Bound to Win Library but with the author given as "Herbert Bellwood." The last serial for Golden Hours was "John Smith of Michigan," which appeared in volume XVII, beginning May 2, 1896. That year he went over to Street & Smith, and on April 18, 1896, under the pseudonym "Burt L. Standish," published the first of his Merriwell stories. About the same time, in real life, "to live down his dime-novel days," as he says, he dropped the "William G." in his name and became "Gilbert Patten."

For the next seventeen years a weekly Merriwell story was written. All with the exception of three in 1897, and those from the spring of 1900 to the spring of 1901 when John H. Whitson wrote them, by Patten himself. Beginning in 1913, Patten wrote much of the material in Street & Smith's Top Notch Magazine, and also several series of books for boys.

Patten, Gilbert (82)

Patten, Gilbert (82)

From Village Soup Biography by Barbara Dyer

"His mother called him “Willie.” He disliked his name but really hated his nickname. In addition to that, Cordelia wanted him to be a preacher (like her father), and William C. thought he would make a living with his strong hands (like his farmer father). But “Willie” was a daydreamer, who preferred to be called Gilbert. By the time he was 15 years of age, he was already 6-feet tall and weighed only 115 pounds. He was a little rebellious, but was not allowed to fight. How could he grow without fighting other boys, and not be considered a sissy?

He retreated to reading “sinful” books, those dreadful dime novels, and prayed not to be caught by his parents. He attended Corinna Union Academy. “Willie” was caught smoking three-for-a-nickel cigarettes and occasionally got into the hard cider. He would not study and was reprimanded by his parents, so he left home for about six months. When he returned, he told his parents that he was going to be an author. His father gave him 30 days to do so. In a few days he had written two short stories and had received $6 for them, and a note from the editor saying that he had talent."

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