Thomas Bailey Aldrich (11 November 1836 - 19 March 1907) was a poet, novelist, traveler, and editor, born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, USA.
When he was but a child his father moved to New Orleans, but after ten years the boy was sent back to Portsmouth—the "Rivermouth" of several of his stories—to prepare for college. This period of his life is partly described in his semi-autobiographical novel The Story of a Bad Boy (1870), of which "Tom Bailey" is the juvenile hero. Critics have said that this novel contains the first realistic depiction of childhood in American fiction and prepared the ground for Huckleberry Finn.
His father's death in 1849 compelled Aldrich to abandon the idea of college and he entered his uncle's business office in New York at age 16 in 1852. Here he soon became a constant contributor to the newspapers and magazines, and the intimate friend of the young poets, artists and wits of the metropolitan Bohemia of the early sixties, among whom were EC Stedman, RH Stoddard, Fitz Hugh Ludlow, Bayard Taylor and Walt Whitman. From 1856 to 1859 he was on the staff of the Home Journal, then edited by NP Willis, while during the Civil War he was himself editor of the New York Illustrated News.