Ticknor, George (1791–1871)

Writer, first Professor of Modern Languages at Harvard, and co-founder of the Boston Public Library. Born in Boston, he was educated at Dartmouth College and later studied for the Massachusetts Bar. Finding the law uncongenial, he decided to pursue his studies and visited Europe from 1815 to 1819, for some of this time accompanied by his friend Edward Everett. The two enrolled at the University of Göttingen; while there Ticknor was offered a newly created chair in French and Spanish at Harvard. He prepared for his new role by spending time in France and Spain, and returned to Boston to assume his duties in 1819. He resigned from Harvard in 1835 and travelled again in Europe from 1835 to 1838. Ticknor and Southey met in Paris in 1817. They had shared interests in Spanish literature, culture and history and in collecting books and manuscripts. Ticknor amassed an extraordinary library, some of which informed his three-volume History of Spanish Literature (1849). Ticknor visited Keswick in 1819, and spent time with Southey. Their correspondence lasted for the rest of the latter’s life. Southey, who described Ticknor as ‘one of the best informed men I ever became acquainted with’, promised him the manuscript of his New England poem ‘Oliver Newman’, a promise carried out after Southey’s death.