Charles Joseph Finger was born on December 25, 1869, in Sussex, England. He attended Kings College. In 1887 his family moved to the US, but he stayed behind, supporting himself through various odd jobs. His whole life would end up a bizarre collection of scattered employment.

In 1890, he joined the crew of a ship bound for Chile, but jumped ship at the Straits of Magellan. For the next five years he would work as a sheepherder, then as a tour guide for the Franco-Russian Ornithological Expedition to Tierra del Fuego in 1893.

Eventually Finger caught up with his parents in New York. He went to Galveston, Texas, then San Angelo, Texas, to herd more sheep. Then he began writing newspaper articles and became a United States citizen. He established the San Angelo Music Conservatory, where he taught lessons and arranged concerts and tours.

He married the daughter (Nellie) of a sheep rancher, and they had five kids, Hubert, Kitty, Charles, Helen, and Herbert. No word on how bad an idea the Hubert/Herbert thing turned out to be.

Finger moved his family to New Mexico so he could work for the railroad, eventually becoming a foreman. Then they went to Ohio, where he was a railroad auditor and then a railroad director and then a railroad manager. The whole time, he was writing.

In 1916, Finger's words came to the attention of William Reedy, founder of the liberal St. Louis lit mag, Reedy's Mirror. In 1919, Reedy published three of Finger's short stories and hired him to take over the magazine while he was on vacation. Sounds like a sweet deal, but Reedy died and the magazine folded (har har).

In 1920, the Finger family (ew) settled in Fayetteville, Arkansas. Finger was at first considered an outsider, but was accepted because of his interest in the folklore and of the region, which was reflected in his writings. His country house, Gayeta Lodge, was named for the Spanish, "galleta," (biscuit) (I just report the news, folks), which was for Finger a symbol of hospitality dating from his days in Patagonia. His house became a gathering place for artists, writers, and other hotshots.

For fifteen years, Finger published almost single-handedly All's Well, or The Mirror Repolished, a literary journal which continued in the tradition of Reedy's Mirror. He also edited "Answers," a monthly journal devoted to answering readers' questions about children's literature.

Finger wrote 36 books in the last twenty years of his life. Mostly he wrote young adult adventure stories, and much of what he wrote reflected his adventures in Tierra del Fuego, Patagonia, and the American southwest.

He died on January 7, 1941, of influenza and a coronary at Gayeta Lodge in Fayetteville. In 1944, he was honored posthumously by the Maritime Commission by having the freighter Charles J. Finger named after him.



In Lawless Lands

Romantic Rascals

Sailor Chanties and Cowboy Songs

Tales from Silver Lands   (1925 Newbery Award)

Valiant Vagabonds

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