eric demetric dicker-son

Eric, or, Little by Little

Eric, or, Little by Little is the title of a book by Frederic W. Farrar, first edition 1858. It was published by Adam & Charles Black, Edinburgh and London.

The book deals with the descent into moral turpitude of a boy at a boarding school.

The author's preface reads:

"The story of ‘Eric’ was written with but one single object—the vivid inculcation of inward purity and moral purpose, by the history of a boy who, in spite of the inherent nobleness of his disposition, falls into all folly and wickedness, until he has learnt to seek help from above. I am deeply thankful to know—from testimony public and private, anonymous and acknowledged—that this object has, by God’s blessing, been fulfilled."
Eric is a son of a British worker and his wife stationed in India. As was common at the time of the British Raj, Eric is sent to Britain to be educated at a boarding school - in this case Roslyn School, where he encounters the good and bad aspects of the traditional boys' school.

He slowly gets beaten down due to erroneously being punished for wrongdoings, getting bullied and such things as drinking, smoking and cheating. The end is tragic for Eric, as he loses everything.

Along with Talbot Baines Reed's The Fifth Form at St. Dominic’s and Thomas Hughes' Tom Brown's Schooldays, this book was one of three most popular boys' books in mid-Victorian Britain. The school is a thinly disguised version of Farrar's own school King William's college in the Isle of Man.

The book is credited with helping to increase the popularity of the first name "Eric" in English-speaking countries.

In later years, it fell out of favor, in part because of its religious earnestness. For example, in Rudyard Kipling's Stalky & Co., published late in the 19th century, the protagonist Beetle and his friends frequently made fun of "Eric."


  • Carpenter, Humphrey and Mari Prichard. Oxford Companion to Children's Literature. Oxford University Press, 1997. ISBN 0198602286
  • Zipes, Jack (ed) et al. The Norton Anthology of Children's Literature: The Traditions in English. W. W. Norton, 2005. ISBN 0393327760
  • Zipes, Jack (ed.). The Oxford Encyclopedia of Children's Literature. Volumes 1-4. Oxford University Press, 2006. ISBN 0195146565
  • Watson, Victor, The Cambridge Guide to Children's Books in English. Cambridge University Press, 2001. ISBN 0521550645
  • Demmers, Patricia (ed). From Instruction to Delight: An Anthology of Children's Literature to 1850, Oxford University Press, 2003. Oxford University Press ISBN 0195418891.
  • St. John, Judith. The Osborne Collection of Early Children's Books, 1566-1910, A Catalogue, Toronto Public Library.

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