Early Collectors and Donors: Alfred Winslow (Fred) Hosmer’s Thoreau Collection

20.  Franklin Benjamin Sanborn, editor.  The Life and Letters of John Brown, Liberator of Kansas, and Martyr of Virginia (Boston: Roberts Brothers, 1885).

John Brown

John Brown

Inscribed: “Alfred W. Hosmer / Oct. 23, 1902.”  From the Thoreau library of Alfred W. Hosmer (part of the CFPL Concord Authors Collection).  Gift of Herbert Buttrick Hosmer, 1949.

Fred Hosmer took pains to collect titles documenting Thoreau’s reform activism as well as his literary work.  His copy of Frank Sanborn’s biography of John Brown includes journal passages by Thoreau.  (At the time of the book’s publication, only selections from the journal had appeared in print.)

Hosmer and his correspondents did not always appreciate the editorial and publishing projects of Sanborn, whose work on Thoreau they sometimes found high-handed, self-promotional, and inaccurate.  Samuel Arthur Jones, in particular, felt some sense of competition with the more publicly recognized Sanborn.


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