Joseph Alexander Altsheler (April 29, 1862 – June 5, 1919) was an American newspaper reporter, editor and author of popular juvenile historical fiction. He was a prolific writer, and produced fifty-one novels and at least forty-nine short stories. Thirty-two of his novels were part of his seven series:
- The Civil War Series (8 volumes)
- The French and Indian War Series (6 volumes)
- The Gold Series (2 volumes)
- The Great West Series (2 volumes)
- The Texan Series (3 volumes)
- The World War Series (3 volumes)
- The Young Trailers Series (8 volumes)
Although each of the thirty-two novels constitutes an independent story, Altsheler suggested a reading order for each series (i.e., he numbered the volumes). The remaining nineteen novels can be read in any order.
Altsheler was born in Three Springs, Hart County, Kentucky, to Joseph and Louise (née Snoddy) Altsheler. He attended Liberty College in Glasgow, Kentucky, before entering Vanderbilt University.
n 1885, he took a job at the Louisville Courier-Journal as a reporter and later worked as an editor. He started working for the New York World in 1892, first as the paper's Hawaiian correspondent and then as the editor of the World's tri-weekly magazine. Due to a lack of suitable stories, he began writing children's stories for the magazine.
Altsheler married Sarah Boles on May 30, 1888; they had one son, Sidney.
Altsheler and his family were in Germany in 1914 when World War I began, and they were forced to remain in Germany for a time. The hardships the Altshelers endured in returning to the U.S. damaged Altsheler's health and rendered him a semi-invalid until his death. Upon returning to the U.S., he wrote The World War Series of books based on his ordeal.
Altsheler died in New York City on June 5, 1919, aged 57; his obituary appeared in The Evening World, on June 6, 1919. His widow, Sarah, died 30 years later. Both are buried at the Cave Hill Cemetery in Louisville, Kentucky.