Mayne Reid, Pseudonym of Thomas Mayne; Soldier, Journalist, and Writer of Boys Stories, Is Born

  • April 4, 1818

Thomas Mayne Reid (4 April 1818 – 22 October 1883) was an British novelist who fought in the Mexican–American War (1846–1848). His many works on American life describe colonial policy in the American colonies, the horrors of slave labour, and the lives of American Indians. “Captain” Reid wrote adventure novels akin to those by Frederick Marryat and Robert Louis Stevenson. They were set mainly in the American West, Mexico, South Africa, the Himalayas, and Jamaica. He was an admirer of Lord Byron. His novel Quadroon (1856), an anti-slavery work, was later adapted as a play entitled The Octoroon (1859) by Dion Boucicault and produced in New York.

Reid was born in Ballyroney, a hamlet near Katesbridge, County Down, in present-day Northern Ireland, the son of Rev. Thomas Mayne Reid Sr., a senior clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Ireland, and his wife. His father wanted Reid to become a Presbyterian minister, and in September 1834 the youth enrolled at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution. He stayed for four years, but lacked motivation to complete his studies and graduate. He headed back to Ballyroney to teach at a school.