James Brendan Connolly Collection

JBC 1896 #7

Athens, Greece, portrait of James Brendan Connolly during the 1896 Olympic Games. Years later, Connolly wrote about the Olympic experience in a 1936 Collier’s article.

James Brendan Connolly (1868-1957) was an Irish-American author of sea-related stories, novels, and nonfiction such as The Book of the Gloucester Fishermen. Born in South Boston as one of twelve children, he worked as a clerk for an insurance company in Boston and later with the United States Army Corps of Engineers in Savannah, Georgia. He attended Harvard and was a medal-winning athlete in the first modern Olympics, held in Athens in 1896, winning the triple jump, placing second in the high jump, and third in the long jump. Connolly became an authority on maritime writing, after spending years on many different vessels, fishing boats, and military ships all over the world. He participated in the Siege of Santiago (Spanish-American War) as a member of the 9th Regiment, ran for the 12th Congressional District (South Boston) seat as a member of the Progressive Party in 1914, and worked as a correspondent for such publications as Scribner’s, Harper’s and Collier’s.

The November 1948 issue of the Colby Library Quarterly features an article on Connolly’s literary career written by Ernest Marriner.

Additional works consulted:

James Brendan Connolly Collection. Colby College Special Collections.

Shaw, Jonathan. “The Unexpected Olympians.Harvard Magazine. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University, July-August 1996. Web. 19 March 2015.


The extensive James Brendan Connolly Collection, part of our Healy Collection, contains first editions, letters, manuscripts, scrapbooks and memorabilia, as described online.


Brenda Connolly – primary donor

James Augustine Healy – primary donor

Ernest Cummings Marriner ’13

Carl Jefferson Weber