The 26th President of the United States, Theodore Roosevelt was a prolific and skilled writer, publishing over 40 books on a range of topics including military history, natural history, conservation, biography, and editorial commentary throughout his lifetime. Known for his vigorous, robustly masculine persona, Roosevelt embraced a strenuous lifestyle and led an adventurous and well-traveled life which he documented in great detail and encouraged the American people to embrace as their own.
Home-schooled, Roosevelt adopted his life-long passion for outdoorsmanship and natural history as a child. He attended Harvard University and established his reputation as a historian and a writer with the publication of his first book, The Naval War of 1812 in 1882. Roosevelt became the youngest person to become President of the United States at the age of 42, following the assassination of President William McKinley. Making conservation one of his top priorities, Roosevelt used his position to establish numerous national parks and forests to preserve the nation’s natural resources and favored progressive policies which promoted fairness for the common American family.
One of Roosevelt’s earliest books and the second in his series of four books on ranching and hunting, Ranch Life and the Hunting Trail (1888), provided a detailed, wide-ranging look at life in western America from his ranch on the Little Missouri, covering the range, the ranch, the round-up and much more. The first edition of the book combined the talents of two of the most important chroniclers of the early American west: Roosevelt and illustrator Frederic Remington. Frederic Remington was “the most successful Western illustrator in the ‘Golden Age’ of illustration at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th, so much so that the other Western artists such as Charles Russell and Charles Schreyvogel were known during Remington’s life as members of the ‘School of Remington” (Samuels, ix).
Another early big-game hunting epic, The Wilderness Hunter: An Account Of The Big Game Of The United States And Its Chase With Horse, Hound And Rifle was written shortly after the death of Roosevelt’s first wife, Alice Hathaway Lee, who died two days after giving birth to their first child. Crushed by this loss, Roosevelt withdrew to his cattle ranch in Western Dakota where he began work on on a number of novels including The Winning of the West (1889) and Wilderness Hunter (1893), one of his earliest accounts of big-game hunting in the American wilderness with chapters on hunting elk in the Shoshones, the prong-horn antelope on the cattle ranges, moose in the Rocky Mountains, and the grisly bear after the first snow.
In March 1909, shortly after the end of his presidency, Roosevelt left New York for the Smithsonian-Roosevelt African Expedition, a safari in east and central Africa. Financed by Andrew Carnegie an the profits Roosevelt made in his own writings, the party hunted for specimens for the Smithsonian Institution and American Museum of National History. Roosevelt documented the historic expedition in African Game Trails. An Account of the African Wanderings of an American Hunter-Naturalist, published in 1910. “One of the most famous of all big-game hunting epics, this, with its larger than life sportsmen, was almost continuously in print until the 1930s. In British East Africa, Roosevelt hunted lion and plains game on the Kapiti Plains, while, in the Bondoni hill country, he collected rhinoceros and giraffe. On Juja Farm, his son Kermit faced leopard, while Teddy bagged rhino and hippopotamus. On the Kamiti River, buffalo were taken. Near the Sotik, additional rhino and lion were hunted, with elephant bagged near Mt. Kenia. On the Guaso Nyiro, giraffe and a variety of plains game were shot. Further adventures included hunting elephant near Lake Nyanza, rhino and plains game in the Lado, and eland on the Nile. Roosevelt’s total bag was enormous even by the liberal standards of that era” (Czech, 138-39).
In 1913, Roosevelt was persuaded by a friend of his father to join another hunting expedition to South America.The Roosevelt-Rondon Scientific Expedition, co-named after its leader, Brazilian Explorer Candido Rondon, was funded in part by the American Museum of National History and documented in Roosevelt’s Through the Brazilian Wilderness, published in 1914. The book was well-received and noted for its memorable descriptions of scientific discovery, scenic tropical vistas, exotic flora and fauna, and the exciting human dramas that occurred during the expedition.
Roosevelt’s bibliography includes over 40 books, numerous letters, and over 100,000 letters. Our collection also currently includes fine first editions of The Rough Riders, The Strenuous Life, Outdoor Pastimes of an American Hunter, Fear God and Take Your Own Part, and The Foes of Our Own Household among many others.