Image of Talbot Baines Reed


Lifetime: 1852 - 1893 Passed: ≈ 130 years ago





Talbot Baines Reed

Talbot Baines Reed (3 April 1852 – 28 November 1893) was an English writer of boys' fiction who established a genre of school stories that endured into the mid-20th century. Among his best-known work is The Fifth Form at St. Dominic's. He was a regular and prolific contributor to The Boy's Own Paper, in which most of his fiction first appeared. Through his family's business, Reed became a prominent typefounder, and wrote a standard work on the subject: History of the Old English Letter Foundries.

Early life and family

Reed was born in St. Thomas's Square, Hackney, London, the third son of Sir Charles Reed, Chairman of the London School Board and M.P. for Hackney. He was educated at the City of London School.


Reed began his writing career in the 1870s, publishing short stories in various magazines. In 1881, he published his first novel, Follow My Leader: The Boys of Templeton. This was followed by a string of successful school stories, including The Fifth Form at St. Dominic's (1887), The Willoughby Captains (1888), and Roger Ingleton, Minor (1890).

Reed's school stories were popular because they were realistic and relatable. He wrote about the challenges and triumphs of everyday school life, and his characters were likable and believable. He also avoided the clichés and stereotypes that were common in boys' fiction at the time.

In addition to his school stories, Reed also wrote historical fiction, adventure stories, and detective stories. He was also a prolific contributor to The Boy's Own Paper, where he wrote articles on a variety of subjects, including sports, hobbies, and travel.

Principles and philosophy

Reed was a strong believer in the importance of education and character development. He believed that boys should be taught to be honest, courageous, and kind. He also believed that they should be encouraged to develop their talents and interests.

Reed's philosophy is evident in his writing. His characters are often faced with challenges, but they always overcome them through hard work and perseverance. They also learn important lessons about friendship, teamwork, and fair play.

Notable works

Reed's most famous work is The Fifth Form at St. Dominic's. This novel tells the story of a group of boys at a prestigious English boarding school. The boys face a variety of challenges, including bullying, academic pressure, and the temptation to cheat. However, they always come through in the end, thanks to their strong characters and their sense of camaraderie.

Other notable works by Reed include:

  • Follow My Leader: The Boys of Templeton (1881)
  • The Willoughby Captains (1888)
  • Roger Ingleton, Minor (1890)
  • The Adventures of a Three-Guinea Watch (1892)
  • The Master of the Shell (1893)
  • A Dog with a Bad Name (1893)

Death and legacy

Reed died in 1893 at the age of 41. He was survived by his wife, Mary, and their two children.

Reed is remembered as one of the most influential writers of boys' fiction. His school stories were popular and enduring, and they helped to establish the genre in its current form. Reed's stories are still enjoyed by readers today, and they continue to inspire young people with their messages of courage, perseverance, and friendship.

Interesting fact

Reed was also a skilled typographer and printer. He wrote a standard work on the subject: History of the Old English Letter Foundries (1887). This book is still considered to be a valuable resource for typographers and historians.

Books by Talbot Baines Reed

Cock-House at Fellsgarth Cover image

Cock-House at Fellsgarth

Fiction Education
School Honor Friendship Challenges Success Determination Preservations

Can a group of boys from the worst house in school turn things around and become the best? Cock-House at Fellsgarth by Talbot Baines Reed is a classic school story about a group of boys who are determined to make their house the best in the school....