Posted by Woodchuck on December 10, 2002
My grandmother and her elder sister (both born in the Edwardian era) often affectionately referred to a mischievious child or pet as "Peck's Bad Boy".
"Peck's Bad Boy" referrs to the popular newspaper sketches of "Peck's Bad Boy and His Pa," by George Wilbur Puck, collected and published as a dime novel in 1883. The main character was a young prankster, Henry Peck.
Bad boy stories became so fashionable for a time and Mark Twain was criticized for jumping on the bandwagon with Huck Finn. The New York World published a review which said:
"Were Mark Twain's reputation as a humorist less well founded and established, we might say that this cheap and pernicious stuff is conclusive evidence that its author has no claim to be ranked with Artemus Ward, Sydney Smith, Dean Swift, John Hay, or any other recognized humorist above the grade of the author of that outrageous fiction, 'Peck's Bad Boy.'"
Eventually, Peck's was adapted into a hit stage play. In 1921, Jackie Coogan played the darling little hellion in the silent film version.