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Ben Franklin, Printer’s Apprentice, Part 3 – Silence Dogood’s Success


Ben Franklin, Printers Apprentice, Part 3: Silence Dogood’s Success – Blog #7C

Good Citizens,

I deliberately left you hanging until today to finish the story of my letter to the “New England Courant.”  My intent was to whet your appetite for more!  I am happy to complete this little chapter for you now.
Well, in the morning (and if you are a bit lost, you should first refer to last week’s entry entitled “Ben Franklin, Printer’s Apprentice, Part 2”,) I stayed carefully in the back of the print shop as my brother and his friends opened my letter–the one signed “Silence Dogood,” and read it.  Would they throw it into the fire? Put it aside? Even enjoy it? I waited with a much more casual demeanor than my beating heart belied.

Well, to my delight, they started chuckling and then even laughing!  James declared it worthy of publication and all began to speculate as to who the real author might be.  Of course, I kept my own “silence” and said nothing. Of course, I was exhilarated.

And indeed, my “Silence Dogood” letter was published forthwith.  Readers loved it, so I wrote a second and delivered it the same way; carefully awaiting the darkness of a moonless night, then sliding the letter under the door of the print shop and running away.

The reception of this second letter mirrored that of the first.  And my literary career, such as it was at the age of sixteen, was launched. Seeing the letter in print in my brother’s newspaper and having such a positive reaction from the readers was heady stuff indeed for me.  I continued, of course, buoyed, yay, almost inebriated by this early triumph, and wrote a total of fourteen letters from “Silence” that year.  And my anonymity continued.  My brother never knew until many years later that it was I, his little brother, who was the author of those letters.  I recall quite vividly that he did not receive the news with equanimity!

The most important lesson I learned from James, and how it affected my future, will have to await my next chat with you. It had, strange to say, nothing to do with printing.

Until that happy time, dear readers, you may be assured that you have the attention and concern of

yr faithful servant,

Benj. Franklin

Ben Franklin, Benjamin Franklin's youth, printer, Silence Dogood

2 thoughts on “Ben Franklin, Printer’s Apprentice, Part 3 – Silence Dogood’s Success

    • Why thank you, Madam. Very nice of you to comment, I’m sure. You may be interested in knowing that one of the more serious viewpoints included in these first editions of my “Silence Dogood” letters was the notion that women should be educated and taken seriously. Many regarded that as a simple-minded idea, obviously the product of a lonely widow and having nothing to do with the way the world really worked. But it was an idea to which I gave voice in other forums throughout my life and one that was to take root.

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