Charles Herrick Knickerbocker was the author of The Boy Came Back, which sparked a nationally covered censorship controversy at the State Library in 1953. That novel was the first publication of a long literary career that was secondary to Knickerbocker’s main occupation as a physician.

Born in Syracuse, New York, on April 18, 1922, Knickerbocker’s parents were both English professors who spent their summers in Southwest Harbor, Maine. The young Knickerbocker received a bachelor’s degree from the University of the South, a noted liberal arts school in Sewanee, Tennessee, in 1943. After a two-year stint in the Army, he entered the University of Pennsylvania Medical School, graduating with his M.D. in 1946. In 1947, he returned to Maine and established a practice in internal medicine at Bar Harbor. For many years, he was chief of medicine at Mt. Desert Island Hospital. 1

Knickerbocker found time in his busy schedule to become a prolific writer. The Boy Came Back, published by A.A. Wynn in 1951, was the first of seven books by Knickerbocker. Shortly afterward, Knickerbocker left for service in the Korean War. He returned to civilian life in 1953. 2

Several of Knickerbocker’s works were critical and commercial successes. His 1962 work, The Dynasty, reached a third printing and was published in 10 countries. Other Knickerbocker books include Juniper Island (1958); A Summer Doctor (1963); The Hospital War (1966); Hide and Seek: The Effect of Mind, Body, and Emotion on Personality and Behavior in Ourselves and Others (1967); and Fool’s Gold (1992). 3

In addition, Knickerbocker wrote numerous articles for periodicals, including MacLean’s, Bluebook, General Practitioner, Medical Economics, Reader’s Digest, and True. Many of his works were published anonymously or under a pseudonym. Knickerbocker also edited two books: Minister’s Daughter: A Time Exposure Photograph of 1903-04, by Francis Wentworth Cutler (1974), and Of Battles Long Ago: Memoirs of an Ambulance Driver in World War I, by G. Ripley Cutler (1979). 4

After 33 years in medicine, Knickerbocker retired in 1980. The thrice-married Knickerbocker was the father of three children. He died on Jan. 9, 2001 at age seventy-eight. 5

  1. “Novel Physician,” 4.
  2. “Novel Physician,” 4; University of the South Alumni Files.
  3. University of the South Alumni Files.
  4. Ibid.
  5. Ibid.