Thomas Sergeant Perry

Thomas Sergeant Perry (1845–1928) was an American editor, academic, literary critic, literary translator, and literary historian. He was a lifelong friend and associate of Henry James and a member of the faculty at Harvard University.

Thomas Sergeant Perry
Lilla Cabot Perry, Thomas Sergeant Perry, 1889.jpg
Portrait by Lilla Cabot Perry, 1889
Born(1845-01-23)January 23, 1845
DiedMay 7, 1928(1928-05-07) (aged 83)
312 Marlborough Street Boston, Massachusetts
Lilla Cabot
(m. 1874; his death 1928)
Parent(s)Christopher Grant Perry
Frances Sergeant

Early lifeEdit

Thomas Sergeant Perry was born on January 23, 1845 in Newport, Rhode Island. His parents were Christopher Grant Perry and Frances Sergeant Perry. His paternal grandparents were Commodore Oliver Hazard Perry, brother of Commodore Matthew C. Perry, and Elizabeth Champlin Mason Perry.[1][2] His maternal grandparents were Thomas Sergeant, a judge of the supreme court of Pennsylvania, and Sarah Bache Sergeant. His father's family line goes back to Edward Perry and Mary Freeman Perry who lived in Plymouth, Massachusetts in 1635. On his mother's side, one of his ancestors is Benjamin Franklin;[1] Perry was his great-great-grandson.[2]

He was a childhood friend of Henry James, with whom he attended Reverend W.C. Leverett's school in Newport, Rhode Island,[3] before the Civil War.[4] Perry met John La Farge, who later married his sister Margaret, through James.[2]

Perry earned his Bachelor's degree from Harvard University in 1866 and his Masters in 1869. He studied in Paris and Berlin between 1866 and 1868.[1]


Between 1868 and 1872, he was a tutor in German at Harvard. He was an English instructor in English for 1877 to 1881 and an English literature lecturer from 1881 to 82. In 1898, he became professor of English literature in the Keio University, in Tokyo, Japan.[1]

He was a prolific essayist, writing on a wide variety of authors, including Alfred de Musset, Arthur Hugh Clough, Berthold Auerbach, Fritz Reuter, George Sand, Ivan Turgenev, Mark Twain, Edward Fitzgerald, Sir Walter Scott, Victor Cherbuliez, Victor Hugo, William Blake, and William Dean Howells, for a variety of American literary publications, including North American Review and The Century.[5]

Edwin Arlington Robinson dedicated his book of poetry, The Three Taverns, to Lilla and Thomas Perry.[6]

Personal lifeEdit

On April 9, 1874, he married Lilla Cabot, an American painter who was an important figure in Impressionism in the United States.[7][8] The couple had three daughters:[7][9]

Thomas Sergeant Perry died on May 7, 1928 after having been sick with pneumonia.[10]


His published works include:[1]

  • North American Review, 1872-74
  • Life and Letters of Francis Lieber, 1882
  • English Literature in the Eighteenth Century, 1873
  • Thomas Sergeant Perry (October 1876). "George Sand". The Atlantic Monthly. 38: 444–451.
  • Francis Lieber; Thomas Sergeant Perry (1882). The Life and Letters of Francis Lieber. The Lawbook Exchange, Ltd. ISBN 978-1-58477-682-6.
  • Thomas Sergeant Perry (1883). English Literature in the Eighteenth Century, by Thomas Sergeant Perry. Harper.
  • Thomas Sergeant Perry (1884). From Optiz to Lessing: a study of pseudo-classicism in literature. J.R. Osgood and company.
  • Thomas Sergeant Perry (1885). Franz Lieber aus den Denkwürdigsieten eines Deutsch-Amerikaners (1800-1872). W. Spemann.
  • Thomas Sergeant Perry (1 January 1999) [1888]. The Evolution of a Snob. Reprint Services Corporation. ISBN 978-0-7812-8742-5.
  • Thomas Sergeant Perry (1890) [1888]. A History of Greek Literature. H. Holt.
  • William Dean Howells, Ed.; Thomas Sergeant Perry, Ed. (1888). Library of Universal Adventure by Land and Sea. New York, Harper and Brothers.
  • Thomas Sergeant Perry (1906). John Fiske. Small, Maynard.

He also made translations from French and German.


  1. ^ a b c d e John Howard Brown (1903). Lamb's Biographical Dictionary of the United States: Newton-Sears. VI. James H. Lamb Company. p. 224.
  2. ^ a b c James L. Yarnall; John La Farge (2012). John La Farge, a Biographical and Critical Study. Ashgate Publishing, Ltd. p. 50. ISBN 978-1-4094-1172-7.
  3. ^ James Henry (2 January 2014). Henry James: A Life in Letters. Penguin Books Limited. p. PT37. ISBN 978-0-14-192213-3.
  4. ^ Henry James; Leon Edel. Letters. Harvard University Press. p. 6. ISBN 978-0-674-38780-5.
  5. ^ "Thomas Sergeant Perry (1845-1928)". American Literature sites, Washington State University. Retrieved October 11, 2014.
  6. ^ Edwin Arlington Robinson (1920). The Three Taverns: A Book of Poems. Macmillan. p. 11.
  7. ^ a b Carol Kort; Liz Sonneborn (January 1, 2002). A to Z of American Women in the Visual Arts. Infobase Publishing. p. 178. ISBN 978-1-4381-0791-2.
  8. ^ American Women Artists 1830-1930. Washington, D.C.: The National Museum of Women in the Arts. 1987. p. 50. ISBN 0-940979-02-0.
  9. ^ Meredith Martindale; Nancy Mowll Mathews; Pamela Moffat (1990). Lilla Cabot Perry: An American Impressionist. Washington, D.C.: National Museum of Women in the Arts. ISBN 978-0940979-14-7.
  10. ^ Eric L. Haralson; Kendall Johnson (2009). Critical Companion to Henry James: A Literary Reference to His Life and Work. Infobase Publishing. p. 429. ISBN 978-1-4381-1727-0.

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit