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James Thomas Fields


FIELDS, JAMES THOMAS (1817-1881). American pub lisher and author, was born in Portsmouth (N.H.), Dec. 31, 1817. At the age of 17 he went to Boston as clerk in a bookseller's shop, where he began to write for the newspapers. In 1839 he became junior partner in the publishing and bookselling firm known after 1846 as Ticknor & Fields, and after 1868 as Fields, Osgood & Company. He was the publisher of the foremost contemporary American writers, with whom he was on terms of close personal friendship, Whittier, for instance, depicting him in The Tent on the Beach, and he was the American publisher of some of the best-known British writers of his time, some of whom, also, he knew intimately. The first collected edition of De Quincey's works (2o vol., 1850-55) was published by his firm. As a pub lisher he was characterized by a somewhat rare combination of business acumen and discriminating literary taste, and as a man he was known for his geniality and charm of manner. In 1862--7o, as the successor of James Russell Lowell, he edited the Atlantic Monthly. After his retirement Fields devoted himself to lectur ing and to writing. Apart from his poems, his chief books were the collection of sketches and essays entitled Underbrush (1877, enlarged ed. 1881) and the chapters of reminiscence composing Yesterdays with Authors (r872). He died in Boston April 24, 188r.

His second wife,

ANNIE ADAMS FIELDS, whom he married in 1854, was a prominent literary figure. She was the author, among other works, of Under the Olive (188o), a book of verses; James T. Fields: Biographical Notes and Personal Sketches (1881) ; Authors and Friends (1896) ; and Orpheus, a Masque (190o). See "Mr. and Mrs. James T. Fields" by Henry James in the Atlantic Monthly (July, 1915), and Memories of a Hostess, drawn chiefly from the diaries of Mrs. James T. Fields by M. A. De Wolfe Howe (1922).

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