The Young Franc-Tireurs
A Tale of Their Adventures in the Franco-Prussian War
This was one of Henty’s earliest books, based on his experiences as a correspondent and from personal interviews with several French veterans. The two heroes in this story, Ralph and Peter Barclay, join the French forces during the Franco-Prussian War. When the conflict has begun, they see heavy action against the Prussians, and end up entering Paris in disguise, swimming the Seine River, and even escape from Paris in a balloon.
Much background to the same war is explained in Henty’s other book, A Woman of the Commune. The humiliation of this defeat in 1870 lingered in the memory of the French for an entire generation and had not yet left their minds at the outset of World War I in 1914.
About the Author
British writer George Alfred Henty, who came to be known as G.A. Henty, began his storytelling with his own children. After the evening meal, it was his habit to spend an hour or more telling the children a story that he would resume the next day, and the next, until complete. Some of his stories took weeks to tell! A friend was present one day and watched the spell-bound reaction of all the children present. He commended Mr. Henty that he had an exceptional gift, and suggested that he write down his stories for the enjoyment of others beyond his home. Henty took the counsel, began to write, and the result was over 144 books!
Besides these came shorter stories for numerous British magazines. He quickly became known as “The Prince of Story-Tellers” and “The Boy’s Own Historian.” One of Mr. Henty’s secretaries reported that he would quickly pace back and forth in his study dictating stories at a pace that the secretary could barely keep up with writing.
Henty’s stories revolve around fictional boy heroes, pictured during fascinating periods of history, amid all the true events and personalities of the times. His heroes are smart, devoted to their country, and often find themselves in situations of great danger. They participate in the conflict of international wars, cross oceans, conquer tyranny and bring freedom to empires, a experience a wide range of other exciting adventures. In short, Henty’s heroes live through tumultuous historic eras meeting leaders of those times. Every reader of Henty books will come to a greater understanding of the cultures of many nations in eras across the centuries!