William B. Child letter to Ferris Greenslet with Elihu Vedder poems

Biographical and Historical Notes

William B. Child

William B. Child was the librarian for the Union League Club of New York.

On January 14, 1897, in a letter to the membership of the Union League Club of New York, Chairman Horace B. Fry announced that the new librarian of the club would be William B. Child.


Union League Club. The Union League Club of New York, 1906. http://books.google.com/books (accessed October 2011).

Ferris Greenslet

Editor, publisher, and biographer Ferris Greenslet was born June 30, 1875, in Glens Falls, New York.

After graduating from Wesleyan University in 1897, Greenslet earned both an M.S and Ph.D. from Columbia University, finishing in 1900. In 1901, he moved to Boston, where after working at the Boston Public Library and the Boston Advertiser, be became the associate editor of The Atlantic Monthly in 1902.

In 1907, he became the literary editor of Houghton Mifflin Publishing Company, continuing that employment for fifty-two years.

Ferris Greenslet wrote several biographies, including Walter Pater (1903), The Life of James Russell Lowell (1905), The Life of Thomas Bailey Aldrich (1908) and The Lowells and Their Seven Worlds (1946). He also wrote a collection of reminiscences, Under the Bridge published in 1943.

Ferris Greenslet wrote an article for Outlook magazine titled "Elihu Vedder in Rome," which is the subject of the letter in this collection.

Ferris Greenslet died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on November 19, 1959.


"Ferris Greenslet." Dictionary of American Biography. Gale Biography In Context. http://ic.galegroup.com (accessed October 2011).

Elihu Vedder

American artist and occasional poet Elihu Vedder was born February 26, 1836, in New York.

Vedder, who was a figure and mural painter as well as an illustrator, painted murals for the wall of the staircase landing in the Library of Congress, in Washington, D.C.. Painted in 1896 and 1897, the mural includes his large mosaic "Minerva," and five wall paintings which symbolize "Government," "Corrupt Legislation," "Anarchy," "Good Administration," and "Peace and Prosperity." He also illustrated Edward Fitzgerald's translation of The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and designed glassware, mosaics and statuettes for Tiffany and Company.

Vedder published three books: Miscellaneous Moods in Verse (1914), Doubt and Other Things (1922), and The Digressions of V (1910), which was his memoir.


"Elihu Vedder in Rome," Outlook (Volume 96, September-December 1910).

"Elihu Vedder." Dictionary of American Biography. Gale Biography In Context. http://ic.galegroup.com (accessed October 2011).

Scope and Content Note

The letter and three sheets of poetry in this collection, which were originally laid in a copy of Elihu Vedder's book of poetry, Miscellaneous Moods in Verse all appear to bear some connection to Vedder.

In a handwritten letter, dated April 19, 1911, Union League Club Librarian William B. Child wrote to American editor and biographer Ferris Greenslet. Child inquired as to the author of a motto which appeared with an illustration used in Greenslet's article on Elihu Vedder, published in Outlook. A handwritten note on the bottom of the letter indicates that the verse was written by Elihu Vedder, being the first stanza of his poem, "Man's Guess," which was published in Miscellaneous Moods in Verse.

The three sheets of poems and notations are unsigned. However, two sheets are stationery printed with Vedder's home address. The handwriting of these poems resembles that of Vedder's when compared to some of the handwritten notes found throughout the copy of Miscellaneous Moods in Verse in which these sheets originally were found.