James Thomas Fields - Encyclopedia

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JAMES THOMAS FIELDS (1817-1881), American publisher and author, was born in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on the 31st of December 1817. At the age of seventeen he went to Boston as clerk in a bookseller's shop. Afterwards he wrote for the newspapers, and in 1835 he read an anniversary poem entitled "Commerce" before the Boston Mercantile Library Association. In 1839 he became junior partner in the publishing and bookselling firm known after 1846 as Ticknor & Fields, and after 1868 as Fields, Osgood & Company. He was the publisher of the foremost contemporary American writers, with whom he was on terms of close personal friendship, and he was the American publisher of some of the best-known British writers of his time, some of whom, also, he knew intimately. The first collected edition of De Quincey's works (20 vols., 1850-1855) was published by his firm. As a publisher he was characterized by a somewhat rare combination of keen business acumen and sound, discriminating literary taste, and as a man he was known for his geniality and charm of manner. In 1862-1870, as the successor of James Russell Lowell, he edited the Atlantic Monthly. In 1871 Fields retired from business and from his editorial duties, and devoted himself to lecturing and to writing. Of his books the chief were the collection of sketches and essays entitled Underbrush (1877) and the chapters of reminiscence composing Yesterdays with Authors (1871), in which he recorded his personal friendship with Wordsworth, Thackeray, Dickens, Hawthorne and others. He died in Boston on the 24th of April 1881.

His second wife, Annie Adams Fields (b. 1834), whom he married in 1854, published Under the Olive (1880), a book of verses; James T. Fields: Biographical Notes and Personal Sketches (1882); Authors and Friends (1896); The Life and Letters of Harriet Beecher Stowe (1897); and Orpheus (1900).

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