For his career see "Recollections of a lifetime" N.Y., 1856 as cited in Stuart, Inglis. The Mayflower ancestry of Elizabeth Ely Goodrich and her descendants. Rhinebeck, NY : Rhinebeck Gazette Press, 1932.
Largely self-educated, Goodrich became a bookseller and publisher at Hartford and later Boston. There, beginning in 1828, he published for 15 years an illustrated annual, the "Token" to which he was a frequent contributor both in prose and verse. The "Token" contained some of the earliest work of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry W. Longfellow. Goodrich published "Peter Parley's Magazine" (1832-44) and then merged it into his "Merry's Museum" founded in 1841 and for a time edited by Louisa May Alcott.
In 1827 he began, under the name of Peter Parley, his series of books for the young, which embraced geography, biography, history, science, and miscellaneous tales. He was the sole composer of comparatively few of these, but in his "Recollections of a Lifetime" 2 vol. (1856), he wrote that he was "the author and editor of about 170 volumes" of which about 7,000,000 copies had been sold, and gave a list both of the works of which he was the author or editor and of the spurious works published under his name. He was widely imitated, especially in England, where seven Peter Parleys held the field. Goodrich was a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1836 and of the state Senate in 1837. In 1851-53 he was consul at Paris, where he remained until 1855 (www.britannica.com)
Author, publisher, best known under his pen name, Peter Parley, was the son of the Rev. Samuel and Elizabeth (Ely) Goodrich. He came of a notable Connecticut family; his grandfather, Elizur Goodrich, his cousin Chauncey Allen Goodrich, and his brother Charles Augustus Goodrich were clegymen of distinction in their day; his uncles, Chauncey and Elizur Goodrich were prominent lawyers ad the former, a United States Senator. He was born at Ridgefield, where his father was a pastor of the First Congregational Church. Because of financial inability, and perhaps partly because as a child he showed little interest in study, his parents gave him only an elementary education. Later, when his own theory of books for children may have colored his recollections, he records that he received "Mother Goose" "with no real relish," and speaks of Hannah More's "Moral Repository" as "the first work that I read with real enthusiasm" ("Recollections," I, 166, 172). At the age of fifteen he left home to become a merchant's clerk, first at Danbury, then at Hartford. A plan to work his way through college was discouraged by his parents, but he carried out various schemes for self-education. He served with the state militia at New London in the War of 1812, started at Hartford a pocketbook factory which soon failed, and in 1816 entered with a friend on a publishing venture. In 1818 he married Adeline Gratia, daughter of Senator Stephen Row Bradley of Vermont. She died June 24, 1822.
The publishing business underwent various changes and vicissitudes; his memoirs dwell on the financial losses. At this time he began to publish school and juvenile books, a few of which he wrote himself. In 1823 he went abroad and met a member of literary celebrities, including most of the Edinburgh group and Hannah More, now a woman of nearly eighty. In 1826 he was married to Mary Boott of Boston and removed to that city. Here he published, and except for two years edited, "The Token," probably the best in a literary way of the American gift-book annuals, though not the most showy or elaborate. It was in "The Token" that many of Hawthorne's tales first appeared. The idea of the Peter Parley books is said to have been suggested to Goodrich by his visit to Hannah More. The first of them, "The Tales of Peter Parley about America," was published in 1827 and was followed by more than a hundred other volumes to which Goodrich affixed the Parley name, besides spurious imitations in both England and America. In these books a kindly and omniscient old gentleman is represented as talking to a group of priggishly inquiring children, and instruction is given a thin sugar-coating of fiction. They met the emotional needs of the time and sold by the million. In 1833 he founded "Parley's Magazine" for children, which he sold the following year, and in 1841 he established "Robert Merry's Museum," another juvenile periodical. He retained the editorship until 1850 and a connection with the magazine until 1854.
Goodrich was always interested in public affairs, though he took no active part in politics until the later thirties of the century, when (1837) he served in the Massachusetts legislature. He was a staunch Federalist and a defender of the Hartford Convention, in which some of his relatives took part; later he was an intense admirer of Webster. From 1851 to 1853 he was United States Consul at Paris, and as he had also been in Paris in 1848 he was able to write piquantly his observations both of the Revolution of that year and of the Coup d'Etat of 1852. After his removal from the consulate he visited Italy; on his return to the United States he lived in New York City and remained active in business almost until his death. He was a man of intense convictions, a stong, somewhat wordy, controversialist, and his criticisms of men and policies both at home and abroad are often picturesque. Besides the Peter Parley books and other juvenile and educational works he issued two volumes of his poems ("The Outcast and Other Poems," 1836; "Poems," 1851) and some miscellaneous work. His "Recollections of a Lifetime," two rambling volumes of interesting material, appeared in 1856. Much controversy has arisen over the claim of Goodrich to the authorship of works that he published, and particularly to that of some of the Peter Parley books. For many years he had little use of his eyes and could work only with the aid of readers and amanuenses; and no man even with full command of his powers could have written all the works that bear the Peter Parley name. It is well known that Hawthorne compiled one of the books ("Peter Parley's Universal History on the Basis of Geography, Vol. II," 1837), and friends of Samuel Kettell, one of Goodrich's assistants, went so far as to maintain after that author's death that he was the real Peter Parley. Goodrich, while admitting that he employed help, insisted that all the work was done in accordance with his own detailed plans, and was put in final shape by himself. His "Recollections" (II, 537) contains a "List of Works of which S.G. Goodrich is the Editor or Author," with some notes, and the following statistical summary: "I thus stand before the public as the author and editor of about one hundred and seventy volumes - one hundred and sixteen bearing the name of Peter Parley. Of all these, about seven millions of volumes have been sold: about three hundred thousand volumes are now (1856) sold annually." Among works published too late to be listed in the "Recollections" are "Thousand and One Stories of Fact and Fancy, Wit and Humor, Rhyme, Reason and Romance" (1858) and "Illustrated Natural History of the Animal Kingdom" (1859) (Dictionary of American biography : NY : Scribner's, 1958).
See also text of a letter written to Samuel by his father upon his Samuel Jr.'s departure for serive in the War of 1812 in notes under Samuel Goodrich (Sr.) Also a letter from his uncle Chauncey Goodrich (1759-1815) to Samuel, under notes for Chauncey Goodrich Goodrich's "Recollections" also contains notes of his brief contact with the enemy during the War of 1812.
Following are genealogical notes on the Goodrich family written by Samuel and appearing in his "Recollections of a lifetime" NY : Miller, Orton & Co., 1856:
When I was in England in 1824, I visited Goodrich Castle, a few miles west of Ross, in the county of Hereford. In looking at the guide-book which I purchased at the place, it appeared that this edifice was of some historical celebrity, it having been founded by Godric, descendant of one of the landed proprietors record in King William's "Doomsday Book." The name Godric became changed at first to Goderic, then to Goodric, and finally to Goodrich, which it held in the time of Cromwell. The owner at that period, stimulated by the spirit as well as aided by the purse of a Catholic priest of the vicinity, opposed the measures of the usurper in such manner as to draw upon him his resentment. Cromwell marched in person against the castle, which he attacked, and after an obstinate defense, he having demolished a portion of the northern wall, it surrendered. From that time it had ceased to be inhabited, and I saw it as Cromwell left it, save only the dilapidation of time.
It would appear from the ancient history of the country of Hereford, that the family of Goodrich - variously spelled Godric, Goodric, Goodrich, Goderich - was formerly common in that quarter of England; but at the time I speak of, I was unable to hear of a single person in that region bearing the name. As to my own ancestors, it is believed that they came from Suffolk, perhaps in the vicinity of Bury St. Edmonds. There were two brothers, William and John Goodrich, who arrived in New England about 1630, and settled at Watertown, in Massachusetts; but in 1636, they removed to Wethersfield, Connecticut, where they continued to reside. From William Goodrich and his descendants, the name has been extensively spread over New England, and within the last thirty years over the Northwestern states.
One of the New England family removed, probably about a century ago, to Virginia, where he became a wealthy planter. A descendant of his, being a tory at the period of the revolution, went and settled in England. His descendants are now living in the county of Sussex. Other descendants of the New England emigrant to Virginia are still living in that state. The name is sometimes spelled Goodridge in this country; fifty years ago it was pronounced Gutridge.
My paternal grandfather was a descendant of the above-named William Goodrich, his father being David Goodrich of Wethersfield, parish of Rocky Hill. By the gravestone of the latter, it appears that he died in 1702, in his ninety-first year, having been forty-six years a deacon.