Biography of Hero Frank Harrison Merriwell Part 1

About the hero Frank Harrison Merriwell, history and biography of the adventure hero.



An exponent of clean living, a defender of the underdog, and a master of the clutch play, Frank Merriwell gained national attention during the early 1900s. Known as the all-American boy from Yale, he was regarded by many as America's greatest hero.

Merriwell was born in 1881, the son of the well-known millionaire Charles Conrad Merriwell, whose eccentric behavior and quixotic nature had earned him a reputation as "the American Monte Cristo." But like the real Monte Cristo, Charles Merriwell had a strong sense of justice, loyalty, and fair play, and he imbued these virtues in his son. They were to last young Merriwell throughout his lifetime and ensure his rise to prominence.

His early childhood was a relatively undistinguished one, spent in the usual pursuits enjoyed by a healthy, active, and curious youth. It was not until his enrollment in Fardale prep School that Frank Merriwell's star began to rise. He arrived at Fardale in August of 1896, and in the first week set the pace which was to carry him from one spectacular success to another. In that week he met and subdued Bart Hodges, an incorrigible ruffian and bully; foiled a plot to smear the Merriwell name; twice saved the life of his future wife, Inza Burrage, for which he received the Congressional Medal of Honor; had this medal stolen; recovered it; and saved the life of Bart Hodges, who thereupon swore his undying allegiance to Merriwell. It was a busy week to be sure, but "Merry," as he was known to his friends, never slackened the pace during his four years at Fardale and his five years at Yale.

In 1900 he enrolled at Yale, where for the next three years he led the sons of Eli to an unprecedented series of victories on the athletic fields. Frank seemed to be engaged in perpetual battle, not only against his opponents on the field, but also against those whose jealousy drove them to conspire secretly for his defeat.

On one occasion Frank's father and Inza Burrage were kidnapped and trapped in a hot-air balloon on the day of the traditional Harvard-Yale football game. Merriwell snagged a dangling rope as the balloon lifted off the ground, brought the balloon down into the water, saved Inza from drowning, took her to the hospital, and, assured by the doctors that she would recover, raced back to the football field to score the winning touchdown for Yale.

He was drugged by upperclassmen, slandered by rivals, schemed against by mysterious enemies, kidnapped, and threatened in a hundred other ways during those years. As often as not he managed to turn his enemies into friends by his stalwart advocacy of fair play.

In his junior year at Yale, he discovered that a ring his father had given him contained the map to a lost gold mine in the West, and he resolved to find it. The map fell into the hands of enemies, and Frank embarked upon a harrowing race to the mine. He eluded numerous ambushes, bushwhackers, and other dastardly dangers in order to stake his claim and secure his fortune.

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