William James Rolfe

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William James Rolfe, Litt.D. (1827–1910) was an American Shakespearean scholar and educator, born in Newburyport, Massachusetts on December 10, 1827.[1]

He attended Amherst from 1845 through 1848, but left without graduating after three years due to financial hardship. Amherst, though, nonetheless later awarded him an honorary degree.

Between 1852 and 1868, he served as headmaster of high schools at Dorchester, Lawrence, Salem, and Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Early in his career, he edited selections from Ovid and Virgil and (in collaboration) the Cambridge Course of Physics (six volumes, 1867–68).

His Shakespearean work began with an edition of George Lillie Craik's English of Shakespeare (1867). This led to the preparation of a complete edition - the Friendly Edition - of Shakespeare (forty volumes, 1870–83; new edition, 1903–07).

He also edited a complete edition of Tennyson (twelve volumes, 1898) and verse by many of the other great English poets. He wrote a very useful Satchel Guide to Europe, revised annually for 35 years; and:

  • Shakespeare the Boy (1896)
  • The Elementary Study of English (1896)
  • Life of Shakespeare (1901)
  • Life of William Shakespeare (1904)
  • Shakesperean Proverbs (1908)

William James Rolfe died on July 7, 1910 at the home of a son in Tisbury, Massachusetts.[2] He was the father of John Carew Rolfe, Charles J. Rolfe and George Rolfe.


  1. ^ New York Times July 8, 1910
  2. ^ New York Times July 8, 1910

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