Leonard, William Ellery 1876 - 1944 | Wisconsin Historical Society

Historical Essay

Leonard, William Ellery 1876 - 1944

Leonard, William Ellery 1876 - 1944 | Wisconsin Historical Society

poet, author, professor, b. Plainfield, N.J. He received an A.B. degree from Boston Univ. (1898), M.A. from Harvard (1899), and Ph.D. from Columbia (1904). After teaching in the East for several years, he served as associate editor (1904-1906) of an English dictionary published by Lippincott. In 1906 he came to Wisconsin as instructor in English at the Univ. of Wisconsin, was assistant professor from 1909 to 1921, associate professor from 1921 to 1926, and professor from 1926 until his death. He was the author of such scholarly works as Byron and Byronism in America (1905), translator of Lucretius' Of the Nature of Things (1916), Beowulf (1923), and Gilgamesh (1934), and was the editor of Parkman's Oregon Trail (1910) and Lucretius, the Latin Text with Notes (with Stanley B. Smith, 1942). He was the author of two plays dealing with Wisconsin Indian history, Glory of the Morning (1912) and Red Bird (1923). Leonard was perhaps best known for his poetry and autobiographical works, among which were The Lynching Bee and Other Poems (1920), and A Man Against Time (1945). His long poem Two Lives (1923), telling of his first marriage which ended with his wife's suicide in 1911, is recognized as one of the outstanding sonnet sequences of the twentieth century. His chief prose work, The Locomotive God (1927), is a graphic account of the confining phobia that chained him to a six-block area of the Univ. of Wisconsin campus from 1911 until his death. Madison Wis. State Journal, May 2, 1944; Who's Who in Amer., 22 (1942); F. B. Millett, Contemporary Amer. Authors (New York, 1940); Natl. Cyclopaedia Amer. Biog., 33 (1947); The Emory Univ. Quarterly, 13 (1957), pp. 11-16.

The Wisconsin Historical Society has manuscripts related to this topic. See the catalog description of the William Ellery Leonard Papers for details.

View newspaper clippings at Wisconsin Local History and Biography Articles.

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[Source: Dictionary of Wisconsin biography]