1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Griswold, Rufus Wilmot

21794201911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 12 — Griswold, Rufus Wilmot

GRISWOLD, RUFUS WILMOT (1815–1857), American editor and compiler, was born in Benson, Vermont, on the 15th of February 1815. He travelled extensively, worked in newspaper offices, was a Baptist clergyman for a time, and finally became a journalist in New York City, where he was successively a member of the staffs of The Brother Jonathan, The New World (1839–1840) and The New Yorker (1840). From 1841 to 1843 he edited Graham’s Magazine (Philadelphia), and added to its list of contributors many leading American writers. From 1850 to 1852 he edited the International Magazine (New York), which in 1852 was merged into Harper’s Magazine. He died in New York City on the 27th of August 1857. He is best known as the compiler and editor of various anthologies (with brief biographies and critiques), such as Poets and Poetry of America (1842), his most popular and valuable book; Prose Writers of America (1846); Female Poets of America (1848); and Sacred Poets of England and America (1849). Of his own writings his Republican Court: or American Society in the Days of Washington (1854) is the only one of permanent value. He edited the first American edition of Milton’s prose works (1845), and, as literary executor, edited, with James R. Lowell and N. P. Willis, the works (1850) of Edgar Allan Poe. Griswold’s great contemporary reputation as a critic has not stood the test of time; but he rendered a valuable service in making Americans better acquainted with the poetry and prose of their own countrymen.

See Passages from the Correspondence and Other Papers of Rufus W. Griswold (Cambridge, Mass., 1898), edited by his son William McCrillis Griswold (1853–1899).