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Frank R. Stockton

Frank R. Stockton (1834-1902) was an American writer and humorist, best known for his fable "The Lady or the Tiger" (1882), about a man sentenced to an unusual punishment for having a romance with the king's beloved daughter. Taken to the public arena, he is faced with two doors, behind one of which is a hungry tiger, who will devour him. Behind the other is a beautiful lady-in-waiting, whom he will have to marry, if he finds her. While the crowd waits anxiously for his decision, he sees the princess among the spectators, motioning to him to choose the door on the right. The story ends abruptly there, without telling us whether she was pointing to the door leading to the lady-in-waiting, or whether her jealousy got the better of him and she preferred to see her lover die than to have him marry someone else. The final outcome has been debated in high school literature classes for years.

Born in Philadelphia, Stockton was assistant editor of Saint Nicholas Magazine, a magazine for children, until 1881, when he was able to support himself entirely from his writing. His collected work, coming to 23 volumes of stories for adults and children, was published between 1899 and 1904. His books include:

  • Ting-a-Ling (1870), for children
  • Rudder Grange (1879)
  • The Floating Prince and Other Fairy Tales (1881), for children
  • The Lady or the Tiger? (1884), a collection containing his most famous story
  • The Casting Away of Mrs. Lecks and Mrs. Aleshine (1886)
  • The Bee-Man of Orn and Other Fanciful Tales (1887), for children
  • The Rudder Grangers Abroad (1891)
  • Pomona’s Travels (1894)

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