Richard Grant White

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Richard Grant White

Richard Grant White (May 23, 1822 – April 8, 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 May 23, 1822, in New York City to Richard Mansfield White (born May 26, 1797, Bloomfield, NJ) and Ann Eliza (Tousey or Towsey) White (born August 5, 1802). He married Alexina Black Maese (born July 4, 1830) on October 16, 1850. They had two children, Richard Mansfield White (born December 25, 1851) and Stanford White (born November 9, 1853 in New York, N.Y.).[2]

White was prepared at Dr. Muhlenberg's famous Institute at Flushing, Long Island, then attended Bristol College, Pa., 1835–37, and New York University, 1837, graduating with A.B. in 1839. He distinguished himself as a scholar of letters and mathematics and was the orator and Grand Marshal at Commencement. At a later date he received 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 Cyclopedias. Words and Their Uses was 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 1857–1865.[2] He was superintendent of the Revenue Marine Bureau, New York, 1861–1878.[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 with contributions by Richard Grant White / by Fitzedward Hall. (This was a critique of Words and their uses.)[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]