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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Richard Watson Gilder (1844–1909)
Critical and Biographical Introduction
 
RICHARD WATSON GILDER was the son of a clergyman, the Rev. William H. Gilder, who published two literary reviews in Philadelphia. He was born in Bordentown, New Jersey, February 8th, 1844, and with such ancestry and home influence came easily to journalism and literary work. He got his schooling in the Bellevue Seminary, which was founded by his father. As with so many young Americans of the time, the war came to interrupt his studies; and in 1863 he served in the “Emergency Corps,” in the defense of Carlisle, Pennsylvania. Mr. Gilder was one of the American writers who most successfully combined journalism and literature. He began by doing newspaper work, and then by a natural transition became in 1869 editor of Hours at Home, and shortly thereafter associate editor of Scribner’s Magazine with Dr. J. G. Holland. This representative monthly was changed in name to The Century, and upon the death of Dr. Holland in 1881 Mr. Gilder became its editor-in-chief. His influence in this conspicuous position was truly wholesome and helpful in the encouraging of literature, and in the discussion of current questions of importance through a popular medium which reaches great numbers of the American people. The Century under his direction was ever receptive to young writers and artists of ability, and many since known to fame made their maiden appearance in its pages.  1
  In addition to his influence on the literary movement, Mr. Gilder was very active in philanthropic and political work. He helped secure legislation for the improvement of tenements in cities; he took much interest in the formation of public kindergartens; and gave of his time and strength to further other reforms. His influence in New York City, too, was a strong factor in developing the social aspects of literary and art life there. From Dickinson College he received the degree of LL. D., and from Princeton that of L. H. D.  2
  Mr. Gilder’s reputation as a writer is based upon his verse: Only very occasionally does he publish an essay, though thoughtful, strongly written editorials from his pen in his magazine are frequent. But it was his verse-writing that gave him his place—a distinct and honorable one—in American letters. The fine quality and promise of his work was recognized upon the publication of ‘The New Day’ in 1875, a first volume which was warmly received. It showed the influence of Italian studies, and contained lyric work of much imaginative beauty. The musicalness of it and the delicately ideal treatment of the love passion were noticeable characteristics. In his subsequent books—‘The Celestial Passion,’ 1887; ‘Lyrics,’ 1885 and 1887; ‘Two Worlds, and Other Poems,’ 1891; ‘The Great Remembrance, and Other Poems,’ 1893: the contents of these being gathered finally into the one volume ‘Five Books of Song,’ 1894—he gave further proof of his genuine lyric gift, his work in later years having a wider range of themes, a broadening vision and deepening purpose. He remained nevertheless essentially a lyrist, a maker of songs; a thorough artist who had seriousness, dignity, and charm. His was an earnest nature, sensitive alike to vital contemporaneous problems and to the honey-sweet voice of the Ideal. He died on November 18th, 1909.  3
 
 
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