The Boxer who Loved Collies

Albert Payson Terhune with his collies (photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons).

Albert Payson Terhune is best known for writing Lad: A Dog (1919) and over thirty other books about the dogs of beautiful Sunnybank Farm where he lived and kept his kennel of fine collies. On this idyllic 44-acre Wayne, New Jersey estate he bred a long line of champions, and his kennel became internationally famous.

Many people aren’t aware that Terhune wrote stories and books about two-legged characters for over twenty years before publishing his first story about dogs.  He also wrote travel narratives as a result of his early journeys abroad which are highly collectible, such as Syria From the Saddle (NY: Silver, Burdett and Co., 1896) and Columbia Stories (NY: Dillingham, 1897).

Terhune was also an outstanding amateur boxer, who boxed exhibition matches with James J. Corbett, Bob Fitzsimmons and James J. Jeffries.  His book, How to Box to Win (written under the pseudonym  “John Terence McGovern”) was published in 1900 by  Rohde & Haskins, New York and later by Shrewesbury Publishing Co., Chicago, 1920 bound in decorative paper wrappers.

Albert Payson Terhune in 1922 (Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)

His civil war novel, Dad (NY: W. J. Watt, 1914) was written with the help of Sinclair Lewis, who anonymously wrote chapters 21 through 23 for his friend Terhune who was having trouble meeting an urgent deadline.  It is quite a rare book, with first editions being valued in four figures for a copy in collectible condition, and is sought after by collectors of both Sinclair Lewis and Albert Payson Terhune.

Still, when I think of Albert Payson Terhune, I think of beautiful and loyal collies, don’t you?  And of the book, Lad: A Dog.  A well-worn copy was on our family bookshelf as I was growing up, as it has been on the bookshelves of millions of other households around the world.  The novel was a best seller in both the adult and children’s markets and has been reprinted over 80 times; it’s success set Terhune on his course to fame as a writer of stories about dogs that are beloved to this day.

A prolific writer of 67 books and numerous stories for magazines such as Saturday Evening Post, Ladies’ Home Journal and Atlantic Monthly, many of Terhune’s books and stories have been adapted for cinema.  See his filmography HERE.

Albert Terhune died February 18, 1942 at age 69 at Sunnybank, among the collies that won him international fame as an author.  He is buried at the Pompton Reformed Church in Pompton Lakes, New Jersey (not far from Sunnybank).  Most of Sunnybank’s land was gobbled up by developers after his wife, Anice, passed away in 1964.  Sadly, the beautiful old house and barn had fallen into disrepair and were bulldozed in 1969.  Some of the grounds were saved by dedicated citizens and exist today day as Terhune Memorial Park – Sunnybank.    Occupying a few acres between Pompton Lake and U.S. Route 202 in north Jersey, it is a public park maintained by Wayne Township.  Visitors can view the graves of many of the dogs mentioned in Terhune’s works and see a collection of Terhune’s book and dog awards at the Van Riper-Hopper Historic House Museum.   Historical and family items from the Terhune home “The Place” can be found at the Pompton Lakes Historical Museum.

View our current offering of a rather scarce book by Albert Payson Terhune.  It is a dog story, a mystery, and a romance all rolled into one…and very difficult to find even in the Grosset & Dunlap reprint edition:

Unseen, by Albert Payson Terhune (NY: Grosset & Dunlap, 1937)

Unseen, by Albert Payson Terhune (NY: Grosset & Dunlap, 1937)

View a biography and bibliography of Terhune’s books HERE.

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