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Thomas Wentworth Higginson

Higginson, Thomas Wentworth, 1823–1911, American author, b. Cambridge, Mass. A Unitarian minister, he was a leader in the abolitionist movement and was a member of a group that backed John Brown's attack on Harper's Farry. His Army Life in a Black Regiment (1870), which recounts his experiences as colonel of the First South Carolina Volunteers, the first black regiment in the Civil War, was the basis of the film Glory (1989). A versatile author and an able scholar, he wrote essays; popular histories; a novel, Malbone (1869); and biographies and reminiscences of political and literary friends. In 1890–91, with M. L. Todd, he edited the Poems of his friend Emily Dickinson. Higginson was also a supporter of female emancipation and education and a founder (1879) of Radcliffe College. A lifelong radical, in his old age (1906), Higginson joined with Jack London and Upton Sinclair to found the Intercollegiate Socialist Society.

See his Letters and Journals, 1846–1906 (1921); C. Looby, ed., The Complete Civil War Journal and Selected Letters of Thomas Wentworth Higginson (2000); H. N. Meyer, ed., The Magnificent Activist: The Writings of Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1823–1911) (2000); B. Wineapple, White Heat: The Friendship of Emily Dickinson and Thomas Wentworth Higginson (2008); biographies by his wife, M. T. Higginson (1914, repr. 1972), and by H. N. Meyer (1967).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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