North American Scholar

PECK, Harry Thurston

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  • Date of Birth (YYYY-MM-DD): 1856-11-24
  • Born City: Stamford
  • Born State/Country: CT
  • Parents: Harry & Harriet Elizabeth Thurston P.
  • Date of Death (YYYY-MM-DD): 1914-03-23
  • Death City: New York
  • Death State/Country: NY
  • Married: Elizabeth H. DuBois, 26 Aug. 1909.
  • Education:

    A.B. Columbia, 1881; A.M., 1882; L.H.D., 1884; Ph.D. (hon.) Cumberland (TN) U., 1883; study at Berlin, Paris, Rome; LL.D. Alfred U., 1903; Columbia, 1904.

  • Professional Experience:

    Tutor Lat. Columbia, 1882-6; Lat. & Sem. langs., 1886-8; prof. Lat. lang. & lit., 1884-1904; Anthon prof. Lat., 1904-10; ed. The Bookman, 1895-1907; lit. ed. New York Commercial Advertiser, 1897-1901; ed. Columbia St. Class. Phil.

  • Publications:

    "Onomatopoeia in Some West African Languages," AJP 7 (1886) 489-95; Gai Suetonii Tranquilli De Vita Caesarum Libri Duo (New York, 1889); Latin Pronunciation: A Short Exposition of the Roman Method (New York, 1890); The International Cyclopedia (ed.-in-chief), 15 vols. (New York, 1893); Harper's Dictionary of Classical Literature and Antiquities (ed.) (New York, 1896); The Adventures of Mabel (New York, 1897); The Personal Equation (New York & London, 1898); Trimalchio's Dinner (trans.) (New York, 1898); Masterpieces of the World's Literature, Ancient and Modern (ed.) (New York, 1898-9); Greystone and Porphyry (New York, 1899); What is Good English? and Other Essays (New York, 1899); William Hickling Prescott (New York, 1905); Twenty Years of the Republic 1885-1905 (New York, 1906); Hilda and the Wishes (New York, 1907); Literature (New York, 1908); Studies in Several Literatures (New York, 1909); The New Baedeker (New York, 1910); A History of Classical Philology (New York, 1911); New International Encyclopedia, ed. with D. C. Gilman & Frank Moore Colby (New York, 1911).

  • Notes:

    Harry Thurston Peck was a legend at Columbia University as an outstanding teacher and scholar of encyclopedic learning. He pursued two careers simultaneously, as professor of Latin and as editor, author of poems, essays, biography, literary criticism, political history, even children's books. He eventually suffered a mental collapse, and his reputation was irremediably tarnished because of a sordid affair involving a woman who sued for breach of promise. As a result, he was dismissed from his professorship in 1910. Peck committed suicide in 1914. "Only a great pity and sorrow must abide for the unhappy ending of so brilliant a career," wrote his colleague Nelson Glenn McCrea.

  • Sources:

    George Harvey Genzmer, DAB: 14:376-8; Thomas Beer, The Mauve Decade (New York, 1926) 189-99; Nelson Glenn McCrea, Columbia Quarterly 16 (1914) 354-5; WhAm 1:952.

  • Author: Meyer Reinhold