Horatio Alger wrote 135 dime novels in the latter part of the 19th century. His stories were rags to riches stories illustrating how down-and-out boys might be able to achieve the American Dream. Alger's stories empathize the need for hard work and honesty as a way to get ahead. Alger describes young men in the city trying to get a head as newsboys, match boys, peddlers, street musicians, and many others. Phil Brent lived with his stepmother and her son. He leaves his small town to seek his fortune in New York after his stepmother reveals that instead of being his late father's beloved only son, he is of unknown parentage and must fend for himself.