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Directors
 
 

J. Maurice Thompson
(1844 - 1901)

Class of 1972 

Contributor to the Sport, Influence on the Sport



"So long as the new moon returns in heaven, a bent beautiful bow, so long will the fascination of archery keep hold of the hearts of men."


James Maurice Thompson, a noted  American novelist raised on a Georgia plantation,  first pursued a career as a lawyer and in 1871 he opened a law practice with his brother, William Henry Thompson. He was drawn away from the field of law by the success of articles and short stories published in the New York Tribune, Atlantic Monthly, and Harper’s Monthly.

 

As a writer, Thompson became well known as a local colorist, his works ranging from local history to articles about archery. His first book, Hoosier Mosaics, published in 1875, was a collection of short stories illustrating the people and atmosphere of small Indiana towns. He followed it with a successful compilation of his published essays, The Witchery of Archery, which was well received for its wit and use of common language. At this same time, Thompson also published several collections of naturalistic poetry, though they weren’t well received at the time.

Thompson wrote the poem “To the South” that was reprinted in George Washington Cable’s influential and controversial essay, “The Freedmen’s Case in Equity” in 1885. This poem expressed Thompson’s reaction to the freeing of the slaves, and implied that some other Southerners were not as angry about the overturning of that institution as Northerners presumed.
Through the 1880s, Thompson moved into the realm of fiction. His early works featured the common thread of simple southern life, taken mostly from Thompson’s childhood. With his 1886 semi-autobiographical novel, A Banker of Bankersville, he returned to his Indiana roots. Arguably his most successful and well-known novel came with 1900’s, Alice of Old Vincennes. The novel vividly depicted Indiana during the Revolutionary War.
Thompson died shortly after its publication, on February 15, 1901, of pneumonia, at the age of 56.

When Thompson wrote The Witchery of Archery, he filled it with various stories, many of which were humorous. However, it also gave practical advice on the sport, such as the manufacturing of archery paraphernalia and how to use the equipment while hunting

The Witchery of Archery was accredited for returning the sport of archery to public interest. Some of this was due to rifles bringing back bad memories of the American Civil War.  By 1880, with the book less than two years old, patents relating to archery items greatly increased. More than any other book, The Witchery of Archery led to the increased interest in archery for the next half-century.
A year after The Witchery of Archery was published; Thompson was selected as the first president of the National Archery Association, largely due to the book.


     Notes of Interest

  • In the United States, archery was practiced almost entirely by Native Americans

  • A “Patron Saint of American Archery

  • Civil War Veteran, Pioneer Bowhunter

  • Noted Attorney and Nationally Known Author

  • Published His Classic, The Witchery of Archery, 1878

  • First President of National Archery Association

  •  Brother of 1997 Archery Hall of Fame Inductee Will H. Thompson





          Thompson Medal of Honor




Cover of book "Witchery of Archery"




Photo circa 1900
 
 

 

 
 

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