Richard Grant White

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Richard Grant White

Richard Grant White (23 May 1822 – 8 April 1885) was one of the foremost literary and musical critics of his day. He was also a prominent Shakespearean scholar, journalist, social critic, and lawyer who was born and died in New York USA.[1]


White was born 23 May 1822 in New York City to Richard Mansfield White (b: 26 May 1797, Bloomfield, NJ) and Ann Eliza (Tousey or Towsey) White (b: 5 August 1802). He married Alexina Black Maese (b 4 Jul 1830) on 16 Oct 1850, they had 2 children Richard Mansfield White (b 25 Dec 1851) and Stanford White (b 9 Nov 1853 in NY, NY).[2]

White attended Bristol College, Pa., 1835–37; New York University, 1837 graduating with A.B. in 1839 distinguishing himself at a scholar of letters and mathematics and was the orator and Grand Marshal at Commencement, and at a later date receiving a M.A. from New York University. He studied medicine and law being admitted to Bar in 1845.[2]

White was one of the foremost literary and musical critics of his day. He had a distinguished career in journalism and literature as an editorial writer and musical critic for "The Courier and Enquirer," continuing when it merged into "The New York World". He wrote many books and articles for the leading American magazines, and contributed to Appleton's and Johnson's Cyclopsedias. "Words and Their Uses" being one of his most noted books.[2] While writing on a wide range of subject his essay The Public-School Failure established him as a prominent and controversial social critic.

White was a Vice-President of the New Shakespeare Society of London, England and edited a twelve-volume edition of Shakespeare in 1857–65.[2] He was Superintendent Revenue Marine Bureau, New York, 1861–78.[2] White owned and maybe played a violoncello now part of the collection at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts, USA.[3]


As one of the most acute students and critics of Shakespeare, White's scholarship was recognized. He published two editions of Shakespeare's works and other works:

On Shakespeare
  • Life and Genius of Shakespeare (1865)[1]
  • Memoirs of Shakespeare
  • Studies in Shakespeare
  • Shakespeare's Scholar (1854)
  • Essay on the Authorship of the Three Parts of Henry VI (1859)
  • Riverside Shakespeare (1883 and 1901)
Criticism of the public school system
Other topics
  • The New Gospel of Peace by St. Benjamin(pseudonym used by White) (1866). A satire of the civil war written in biblical language.[1]
  • Words and their Uses (1870)
  • Life of Pauline Markham (c. 1871), with Pauline Markham
  • The Fate of Mansfield Humphreys (1884), a novel
  • Recent exemplifications of False Philology by Fitzedward Hall with contributions by Richard Grant White [4]

See also[edit]

  • Zachariah Montgomery – White relies in part on Montgomery's book, The Poison Fountain for some arguments against public education.


External links[edit]