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
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