See E. E. Hale, Jr., The Life and Letters of Edward Everett Hale (1917); study by C. P. Hartnett (1966).
Edward Hale graduated from Harvard in 1839; was pastor of the Church of the Unity, Worcester, Massachusetts, in 1846-1856, and of the South Congregational (Unitarian) church, Boston, in 1856-1899. In 1903 he became chaplain of the United States Senate. Hale married Emily Baldwin Perkins in 1852—she was the niece of Connecticut Governor & US Senator Roger Sherman Baldwin and Emily Pitkin Perkins Baldwin on her father's side and Harriet Beecher Stowe and Henry Ward Beecher on her mother's side. They had eight children; one of his grandsons was the actor Edward Everett Horton. Hale died in Roxbury, by then part of Boston, in 1909.
Combining a forceful personality, organizing genius, and liberal practical theology, Hale was active in raising the tone of American life for half a century. He had a deep interest in the anti-slavery movement (especially in Kansas), as well as popular education (especially Chautauquas), and the working-man's home. He was a constant and voluminous contributor to newspapers and magazines. He was an assistant editor of the Boston Daily Advertiser and edited the Christian Examiner, Old and New (which he assisted in founding in 1869 and which merged with Scribner's Magazine in 1875), Lend a Hand (which he founded in 1886 and which merged with the Charities Review in 1897), and the Lend a Hand Record. He was the author or editor of more than sixty books—fiction, travel, sermons, biography and history.
Hale first came to notice as a writer in 1859, when he contributed the short story "My Double and How He Undid Me" to the Atlantic Monthly. He soon published other stories in the same periodical. The best known of these was "The Man Without a Country" (1863), which did much to strengthen the Union cause in the North, and in which, as in some of his other non-romantic tales, he employed a minute realism which led his readers to suppose the narrative a record of fact. These two stories and such others as "The Rag-Man and the Rag-Woman" and "The Skeleton in the Closet," gave him a prominent position among short-story writers of 19th century America. His short story "The Brick Moon", serialized in the Atlantic Monthly, is the first known fictional description of an artificial satellite.
The story "Ten Times One is Ten" (1870), with its hero Harry Wadsworth, contained the motto, first enunciated in 1869 in his Lowell Institute lectures: "Look up and not down, look forward and not back, look out and not in, and lend a hand." This motto was the basis for the formation of Lend-a-Hand Clubs, Look-up Legions and Harry Wadsworth Clubs for young people. Out of the romantic Waldensian story "In His Name" (1873) there similarly grew several other organizations for religious work, such as King's Daughters, and King's Sons.
Hale once said, "I am only one, but still I am one. I cannot do everything, but still I can do something; and because I cannot do everything I will not refuse to do the something I can do."