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Robert Herrick (Robert Welch Herrick) Biography

(1868–1938), (Robert Welch Herrick), Literary Love Letters and Other Stories, The Gospel of Freedom

Literature Reference: American Literature, English Literature, Classics & Modern FictionEncyclopedia of Literature: William Hart-Smith Biography to Sir John [Frederick William] Herschel Biography

American novelist and educator, born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, educated at Harvard. Among several academic posts he was Professor of English at the University of Chicago from 1905 to 1923. He published his first book, Literary Love Letters and Other Stories, in 1897, but it was his third work, The Gospel of Freedom (1898), which revealed Herrick's strengths as a progressive critic of commercial and materialistic society, notably of Chicago, and which established his intellectual kinship with other social realists such as Theodore Dreiser and Frank Norris. In The Web of Life (1900) the protagonist, a doctor, is tempted by the financial advantages offered to him as a society physician, but rejects them and refuses the hand of a capitalist's daughter until she renounces her inheritance. The Memoirs of an American Citizen (1905) follows the career of a Chicago meatpacker who rises to a position of great financial and political power. Of his later novels, Together (1908), One Woman's Life (1913), and The End of Desire (1932) are of interest for their treatment of modern marriage, sexual liberation, and feminism. His 1914 essay ‘The Background of the American Novel’ is an important document in the history of American literary realism. Blake Nevius's Robert Herrick: The Development of a Novelist (1962) is a critical study.

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