OF EMERSON’S ESSAY “CULTURE”—A CONCORD FREE PUBLIC LIBRARY DEDICATION GIFT
62. Ralph Waldo Emerson. “Culture,” holograph manuscript,
. Ink on paper; half bound in red morocco and green cloth boards.
Presented by James T. Fields, 1873.
Boston publisher James T. Fields was among the dignitaries and literati invited to join Concord for the dedication of its new library in 1873. Fields was a partner in the Boston firm of Ticknor and Fields and, along with Emerson and Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar, a member of the Saturday Club.
Ticknor and Fields published a number of major American authors—Emerson, Hawthorne, Thoreau, Holmes, Longfellow, Lowell, Stowe, and Whittier among them—and English authors as well. The firm also issued the Atlantic Monthly. James Russell Lowell was the first editor of the magazine. Fields took over as editor in 1861, on Lowell’s resignation.
Fields was unable to attend the October 1st ceremonies in Concord. He wrote to William Munroe on September 29th: “I have been confined to my room six weeks by a lame knee, and can’t be with you on Wednesday. As I always intended to join the good day’s dedication, I feel greatly disappointed—more than I can express. I send for the Library a gift of five autographs, which please present in my name … ”
The autograph manuscripts which Fields presented were pieces by various authors prepared for publication in the Atlantic Monthly: Emerson’s essay “Culture”; Thoreau’s essay “Walking”; Holmes’s poem “Dorothy Q”; Lowell’s poem “The Cathedral”; and Motley’s address before the Parker Fraternity on October 20, 1868. In 1875, Fields added the manuscript of the first chapter of Hawthorne’s The Dolliver Romance to his dedication gift.
Emerson’s essay “Culture” first appeared in print in the Atlantic Monthly for September, 1860 (Myerson E154). It was subsequently included in the collection The Conduct of Life (1860; Myerson A26).
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