Evert Augustus Duyckinck
|Evert Augustus Duyckinck|
Life and work
He was born on November 23, 1816, in New York City to Evert Duyckinck, a publisher. Evert the younger graduated from Columbia College in 1835. He then studied law with John Anthon, and was admitted to the bar in 1837. He spent the next year in Europe. Before he went abroad he wrote articles on the poet George Crabbe, the works of George Herbert, and Oliver Goldsmith, to the New York Review. In 1840 he started a monthly magazine with Cornelius Mathews called Arcturus, which ran until 1842. The New York Tribune commented on the important partnership by referring to Duyckinck and Mathews as "the Castor and Pollux of Literature—the Gemini of the literary Zodiac". Duyckinck wrote articles on other authors while at home and in Europe. Between 1844 and 1846, Evert became the literary editor of John L. O'Sullivan's The United States Magazine and Democratic Review, which moved from Washington D.C. to New York in 1840.
In 1845, he assisted Edgar Allan Poe in printing his Tales collection and selected which stories to include. The collection was a critical success, though Poe was somewhat disappointed by Duyckinck's choices. In 1847 he became the editor of The Literary World, a weekly review of books written with his brother George Long Duyckinck until 1853. The two brothers became the unofficial leaders of the New York literary scene in the 1840s into the 1850s.
In 1854 the brothers were again united in the preparation of The Cyclopaedia of American Literature (2 vols., New York, 1855; enlarged eds., 1865 and 1875). He published Wit and Wisdom of Sydney Smith, with a memoir (New York, 1856); an American edition of Willroot's Poets of the Nineteenth Century (1858). Immediately after the death of Washington Irving, Duyckinck gathered together and published in one volume a collection of anecdotes and traits of the author, under the title of Irvingiana (1859); History of the War for the Union (3 vols., 1861'5); Memorials of John Allan (1864); Poems relating to the American Revolution, with Memoirs of the Authors (1865); Poems of Philip Freneau, with notes and a memoir (1865); National Gallery of Eminent Americans (2 vols., 1866); History of the World from the Earliest Period to the Present Time (4 vols., 1870); and an extensive series of Biographies of Eminent Men and Women of Europe and America (2 vols., 1873'4). His last literary work was the preparation, with William Cullen Bryant, of an edition of William Shakespeare. In January 1879, a meeting in his memory was held by the New York historical society, and a biographical sketch of Duyckinck was read by William Allen Butler.
Letter to Lincoln
On 18 February 1865, author Duyckinck sent President Abraham Lincoln a letter, apparently mailed from Quincy. Duyckinck signed the letter “Asmodeus”, with his initials below his pseudonym. His letter enclosed a newspaper clipping about an inappropriate joke allegedly told by Lincoln at the Hampton Roads Peace Conference. The purpose of Duyckinck’s letter was to advise Lincoln of “an important omission” about the history of the conference. He advised that the newspaper clipping be added to the “Archives of the Nation”.
Legacy and criticism
Herman Melville, a close friend of Duyckinck's with whom he corresponded often, refers in his book Mardi (1849) to Duyckinck's highbrow magazine Arcturus by naming a ship in the book Arcturion. Referring to it as "exceedingly dull", the author notes the low literary level of its crew. Duyckinck also garnered a mention in James Russell Lowell's A Fable for Critics (1848) with the lines, "Good-day, Mr. Duyckinck, I am happy to meet / With a scholar so ripe and a critic so neat".Charles Frederick Briggs noted Duyckinck's ability in the "art of puffing", heavy praise for works that did not necessarily merit it.Edwin Percy Whipple chidingly called Duyckinck "the most Bostonian of New-Yorkers". William Allen Butler noted that his taste in literature was too high for most readers: "While Duyckinck was the most genial of companions, and the most impartial of critics, he was too much of a recluse, buried in his books, almost solitary in life, and entirely removed from the circle of worldly and fashionable life".
New York Historical Society biographies
- Duberman, Martin. James Russell Lowell. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1966: 50.
- Nelson, Randy F. The Almanac of American Letters. Los Altos, California: William Kaufmann, Inc., 1981: 48. ISBN 0-86576-008-X
- Delbanco, Andrew: Melville, His World and Work. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005: 93. ISBN 0-375-40314-0
- Widmer, Edward L. Young America: Flowering of Democracy in New York City. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999: 110. ISBN 0-19-514062-1
- Sova, Dawn B. Edgar Allan Poe: A to Z. New York: Checkmark Books, 2001: 75. ISBN 0-8160-4161-X
- Duyckinck, Evert A. "Evert A. Duyckinck to Abraham Lincoln, Saturday, February 18, 1865 (Sends clipping with story Lincoln allegedly told at Hampton Roads conference)." The Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress. http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/malquery.html (accessed February 3, 2013).
- Widmer, Edward L. Young America: Flowering of Democracy in New York City. New York: Oxford University Press, 1999: 109. ISBN 0-19-514062-1
- Delbanco, Andrew: Melville, His World and Work. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2005: 94. ISBN 0-375-40314-0
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