William Ticknor
William Davis Ticknor I (August 6, 1810 – April 10, 1864) was an American publisher in Boston, Massachusetts, USA, and a founder of the publishing house Ticknor and Fields
Ticknor and Fields
Ticknor and Fields was an American publishing company based in Boston, Massachusetts.-Early years:In 1832 William Davis Ticknor and John Allen began a small publishing business which operated out of the Old Corner Bookstore located on Washington and School Streets in Boston, Massachusetts...


Life and work

William Davis Ticknor was born on August 6, 1810, on the outskirts of Lebanon, New Hampshire
Lebanon, New Hampshire
As of the census of 2000, there were 12,568 people, 5,500 households, and 3,178 families residing in the city. The population density was 311.4 people per square mile . There were 5,707 housing units at an average density of 141.4 per square mile...

, the oldest boy of nine brothers and sisters. His parents, William and Betsey (Ellis) Ticknor, were prosperous farmers. His cousin was the famous writer and historian George Ticknor
George Ticknor
George Ticknor was an American academician and Hispanist, specializing in the subject areas of languages and literature. He is known for his scholarly work on the history and criticism of Spanish literature....

. As a boy, Ticknor worked on the family farm during the summers and attended the district school during the winters. In 1827 at age seventeen he left home and went to Boston.

He was first employed in the brokerage house of his uncle Benjamin. When his uncle died a few years later he was offered a position at the Columbian Bank, a position he held for a year or two. In 1832 he went into partnership with John Allen forming the publishing house of Allen and Ticknor which operated out of the Old Corner Bookstore
Old Corner Bookstore
The Old Corner Bookstore is a historic building in the center of Boston, Massachusetts. It is located at the corner of Washington and School Streets, along the Freedom Trail of revolutionary and early American historic sites.-History:...

. The following year Allen withdrew and Ticknor carried on the house under the name William D. Ticknor and Company, which would remain the legal name of the firm until his death. In 1837 he published the national monthly American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge
American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge
The American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining Knowledge was a monthly magazine based in Boston, Massachusetts. It was established by a group of engravers to "give to the public a work descriptive, not merely of subjects, scenes, places, and persons existing in distant climes, but also of those...


On December 25, 1832 he married Miss Emeline Staniford Holt. They had seven children together; only five survived into adulthood. Their three sons Howard Malcolm, Benjamin Holt and Thomas Baldwin all graduated from Harvard and entered into their father’s firm. During the Civil War
American Civil War
The American Civil War was a civil war fought in the United States of America. In response to the election of Abraham Lincoln as President of the United States, 11 southern slave states declared their secession from the United States and formed the Confederate States of America ; the other 25...

 his son Benjamin Holt Ticknor enlisted in the Forty-Fifth Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers and was commissioned as second lieutenant of Company G until May 1863. He was then commissioned as second lieutenant in the Second Massachusetts Heavy Artillery. He was later commissioned at captain of Company E and was in command of the recruiting camp at Readville, Massachusetts. He resigned from service shortly after his father’s death.

In 1845 the imprint of the firm was changed to Ticknor, Reed and Fields after John Reed and James Thomas Fields
James Thomas Fields
James Thomas Fields was an American publisher, editor, and poet.-Early life and family:He was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on December 31, 1817 and named James Field; the family later added the "s". His father was a sea captain and died before Fields was three...

 were admitted as partners. It continued under this imprint until 1854 when John Reed withdrew and the name was changed to the well known Ticknor and Fields.

With the widely varying but well matched talents of the two partners Ticknor and Fields grew to become one the leading publishing houses in the 19th century. Ticknor was the first American publisher to pay foreign authors for the rights to their works beginning with a check to Tennyson in 1842. From the Old Corner Book Store Ticknor and Fields published the works of Horatio Alger, Lydia Maria Child, Charles Dickens
Charles Dickens
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English novelist, generally considered the greatest of the Victorian period. Dickens enjoyed a wider popularity and fame than had any previous author during his lifetime, and he remains popular, having been responsible for some of English literature's most iconic...

, Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Ralph Waldo Emerson was an American essayist, lecturer, and poet, who led the Transcendentalist movement of the mid-19th century...

, Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Nathaniel Hawthorne was an American novelist and short story writer.Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in 1804 in the city of Salem, Massachusetts to Nathaniel Hathorne and the former Elizabeth Clarke Manning. His ancestors include John Hathorne, a judge during the Salem Witch Trials...

, Oliver Wendell Holmes
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. was an American physician, professor, lecturer, and author. Regarded by his peers as one of the best writers of the 19th century, he is considered a member of the Fireside Poets. His most famous prose works are the "Breakfast-Table" series, which began with The Autocrat...

, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an American poet and educator whose works include "Paul Revere's Ride", The Song of Hiawatha, and Evangeline...

, James Russell Lowell
James Russell Lowell
James Russell Lowell was an American Romantic poet, critic, editor, and diplomat. He is associated with the Fireside Poets, a group of New England writers who were among the first American poets who rivaled the popularity of British poets...

, Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Harriet Beecher Stowe was an American abolitionist and author. Her novel Uncle Tom's Cabin was a depiction of life for African-Americans under slavery; it reached millions as a novel and play, and became influential in the United States and United Kingdom...

, Alfred Tennyson, Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau
Henry David Thoreau was an American author, poet, philosopher, abolitionist, naturalist, tax resister, development critic, surveyor, historian, and leading transcendentalist...

, Mark Twain
Mark Twain
Samuel Langhorne Clemens , better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist...

, and John Greenleaf Whittier
John Greenleaf Whittier
John Greenleaf Whittier was an influential American Quaker poet and ardent advocate of the abolition of slavery in the United States. He is usually listed as one of the Fireside Poets...

. The firm also published the Atlantic Monthly, Our Young Folks, and the North American Review
North American Review
The North American Review was the first literary magazine in the United States. Founded in Boston in 1815 by journalist Nathan Hale and others, it was published continuously until 1940, when publication was suspended due to J. H. Smyth, who had purchased the magazine, being unmasked as a Japanese...


During his life Ticknor was very involved in the Baptist church, he was a director of the Boston Lyceum
Boston Lyceum
The Boston Lyceum of Boston, Massachusetts, was a civic association dedicated to popular education in the form of "lectures, discussions, ... declamation," and writing contests. It began "in Chauncy Hall on 25 June 1829...

, treasurer of the American Institute of Instruction, a trustee of the Perkins Institute, and a leading member of the School Committee, was a resident member of New England Historic Genealogical Society. Shortly after the firm was contracted for Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter
The Scarlet Letter is an 1850 romantic work of fiction in a historical setting, written by Nathaniel Hawthorne. It is considered to be his magnum opus. Set in 17th-century Puritan Boston during the years 1642 to 1649, it tells the story of Hester Prynne, who conceives a daughter through an...

Ticknor became a close friend and advisor to Hawthorne.


In the spring of 1864 Hawthorne's health was failing. Both Ticknor and Sophia Hawthorne insisted on a restorative health trip. During their trip, Ticknor's health suddenly failed. He caught what he assumed was a cold before leaving Boston and Hawthorne later wrote home that his friend had eaten bad oysters. By the time they reached New York, it was determined to be pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

. Ticknor was more concerned about Hawthorne, writing to Sophia, "You will be glad to hear that your patient continues to improve." In Philadelphia, the duo visited Fairmount Park
Fairmount Park
Fairmount Park is the municipal park system of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It consists of 63 parks, with , all overseen by the Philadelphia Department of Parks and Recreation, successor to the Fairmount Park Commission in 2010.-Fairmount Park proper:...

 and Ticknor offered Hawthorne his jacket for warmth before they returned to the Continental Hotel. Hawthorne wrote to Fields that "our friend Ticknor is suffering under a billious attach... He had previously seemed uncomfortable, but not to an alarming degree." A physician offered various medicines but Ticknor died on the morning of April 10, 1864. George William Childs
George William Childs
George William Childs was an American publisher who co-owned the Philadelphia Public Ledger newspaper with financier Anthony Joseph Drexel.-Early life:...

 arrived shortly after and accompanied the distraught and grieving Hawthorne back to Boston. The sudden loss of Ticknor was devastating to the already failing health of Hawthorne who would die barely more than a month later on May 19. Ticknor was buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery
Mount Auburn Cemetery
Mount Auburn Cemetery was founded in 1831 as "America's first garden cemetery", or the first "rural cemetery", with classical monuments set in a rolling landscaped terrain...

 with the truly distinguished of both the literary and business circles showing up to pay their final tribute.

Further reading

  • Ticknor, Caroline.(1913).Hawthorne and His Publisher, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company
  • The New England Historical and Genealogical Register (1916). Boston: Published by the Society
  • Fiske, John. (1889). Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography, New York: D. Appleton and Company

External links

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.