Robert Louis Stevenson's Kidnapped (1886) describes the adventures of David Balfour, whose dastardly uncle swindles him out of his inheritance and packs him off to servitude in the colonies.
The historian A Roger Ekirch has uncovered the true story that inspired the novel and, remarkably, it proves even more dramatic than Stevenson's swashbuckler.
Balfour never reached America, but his factual counterpart, the 18th-century Irishman James Annesley, spent a decade as a servant on a Pennsylvania farm before returning to fight for his rightful estate. Sadly, there was no real-life happy ending: Annesley died before he could reclaim his fortune. But Ekirch has done him justice with this splendidly readable book.