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Thomas Wentworth Higginson
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Critic
    (December 22, 1823-May 9, 1911)
    Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts
    Emily Dickinson's literary 'mentor'
    Unitarian minister, prominent abolitionist
    Served in the American Civil War, as a Colonel (1862–64)
    Founded the New England Woman Suffrage Association (1868) and the American Woman Suffrage Association (1869)
    Founding editor of the suffrage newspaper 'The Woman’s Journal,' founded in 1870
    Founder of the Intercollegiate Socialist Society, with Jack London and Upton Sinclair (1905)
    Wrote 'Army Life in a Black Regiment,' 'Women and Men,' 'Drawn by the Sword,' 'Common Sense About Women,' 'Outdoor Papers,' 'Life of Margaret Fuller Ossoli,' 'Tales of the Enchanted Islands of the Atlantic,' 'Henry Wadsworth Longfellow,' 'John Greenleaf Whittier,' 'Part of a Man's Life,' 'Old Cambridge,' 'Contemporaries,' and 'A Readers History of American Literature'
    Published 'Letter to a Young Contributor' in The Atlantic Monthly (April 1862)
    'Letter' marked the beginning of a decades-long correspondence with Emily Dickinson, who sent him four poems after reading the article
    Published the first known collection of Dickinson's work, 'Poems,' with Mabel Loomis Todd, four years after the poet's death (1890)
    He and his wife never had any children.
    He couldn't decide if he wanted to register as a Republican, a Democrat, or an Independent (or a 'Free Soiler' as they used to say back in the day).
    He was a member of 'The Secret Six' - who financed John Brown's failed Harper's Ferry Raid (which may or may not have pushed the country into the throes of a Civil War).
    His involvement was well-known, but he was the only member not to flee to Canada to avoid being called to testify after Brown's arrest (his influence insured he wouldn't be arrested).
    He had a fifty-plus year career in American letters but will only ever be remembered for his sometimes dubious - at times bizarre - association with Emily Dickinson (at times she signed her letters to him 'your gnome').
    Misinterpretations of his relationship have falsely claimed that he 'refused to publish' Dickinson's work, and directed his 'Young Contributor' letter to her specifically, telling her to 'charge her work with life' (basically 'the man who turned down the Beatles' of poetry).
    What actually happened was that Emily sent him samples of her work, asking 'Are you too deeply occupied to say if my Verse is alive?' he replied favorably, but advised her not to try and publish it because of its 'rawness' (not aware that she had already published under an anonymous pseudonym).
    He published a sanitized 'improved' version of Dickinson's poems, having already helped her to 'refine' the raw verse in his letters so that it would be suitable for public consumption. Readers would have to wait until 1955 to enjoy the full texture of Dickinson's writing.
    He traced his ancestry back to the founders of Massachusetts Bay Colony.
    He was close friends with Margaret Fuller and helped to raise her niece.
    He actively protested the Mexican-American War as a divinity student, even going door-to-door to collect petition signatures against it.
    He was a militant abolitionist who resigned from the Unitarian Ministry over slavery.
    He was one of the few Abolitionists to devote equal energy to the cause of Women's Rights.
    He presided over Lucy Stone's historic wedding to Henry Blackwell, in 1855, even drafting their famous 'Marriage Protest' document and sending it to the press.
    He organized the crowd which stormed the Boston courthouse in protest of the extradition of escaped slave Anthony Burns on grounds of the Fugitive Slave Act (he received a gash to the chin with a saber, which never entirely healed).
    He commanded the first federally authorized black regiment, during the Civil War; the 1st South Carolina Volunteers.
    Emily Dickinson valued his constructive criticism highly, going from addressing him with the formal 'Mr. Higginson' in her letters to 'Dear Friend' (in 1862, she even implied that his words of encouragement had 'saved her life').
    Contrary to popular belief, he did visit/meet Emily on two separate occasions, and even attended her funeral in the Spring of 1886 (at which he read an Emily Bronte poem).

Credit: BoyWiththeGreenHair


    For 2018, as of last week, Out of 1 Votes: 100% Annoying
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