In 1913 This Man Went Into The Woods Almost Nude. Then Months Later He Returned To A Hero’s Welcome

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Image: via Boston Magazine
Image: via Boston Magazine

In fact, the Boston Post and its Sunday sister paper had the exclusive rights to this story. Moreover, Knowles was going to pen contributions, including sketches, for the newspaper. Obviously, his self-imposed rules meant that he had no ink or paper, so he would be producing his reports using homemade charcoal pencils and parchment made from birch bark. These reports would then be left at a prearranged pick-up spot to be collected by a Post employee.

Image: Detroit Publishing Co.
Image: Detroit Publishing Co.

The whole Knowles saga was played out against a background of intense competition in Boston between newspapers that were hungry for circulation. In 1913 there were no less than ten daily papers slugging it out for the attention of the city’s good citizens. Many of them were based in Boston’s Washington Street, which was known as “Newspaper Row.” And the Boston Post clearly thought that it was onto a winner with the story of Knowles’ plucky battle against nature.

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Image: Fox Photos/Getty Images
Image: Fox Photos/Getty Images

It was said that Knowles, once an illustrator for the Post, came up with the idea for his forest survival stunt while sat in a bar on Newspaper Row with his drinking buddy Michael McKeogh, a freelance journalist who will appear again later in this story. In his book Alone in the Wilderness, Knowles later claimed a more romantic inspiration, writing that the idea came to him while painting in Vermont.

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