Ten Nights in a Bar-Room: A Newburgh Native’s Bestselling Novel

By J. Warren Cahill

One of the most popular authors of the Nineteenth Century was a Newburgh born writer named Timothy Shay Arthur, whose bestselling novel, “Ten Nights in a Bar-Room and What I Saw There,” became a Temperance Movement standard. Born in the Town of Newburgh on June 6, 1809, the same year as Abraham Lincoln, his family moved to Ft. Montgomery, where they lived until he was eleven, and then moved on to Baltimore. By the time Arthur was 21, he had moved to Philadelphia, a center for magazine publishing at the time, and began a writing career, contributing to various magazines before starting up his own.

Arthur became influenced by the emerging temperance movement, and wrote several pieces which were good sellers, but he really hit his stride in 1854 with the publication of “Ten Nights in a Bar-Room.” The book tells the story of a traveling businessman who visits a small town and stays at the local hotel, recently purchased by a former mill owner, which has an attached bar.[…]

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This history article was featured as an additional page to the Historical Society’s print version of the newsletter, the Riverview. Subscribers to our email list receive the Riverview in their inboxes and members receive the print version in the mail. Included only in the print version are additional pages featuring interesting articles based on materials in our collection.

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