University of Delaware Library

Special Collections Department

Henry Mills Alden Papers

1862 - 1907
Manuscript Collection Number: 197
Extent: .2 linear feet (59 items).
Contents: Correspondence.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: September 1996 by Julie Witsken.

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Table of Contents

Biographical Note

Henry Mills Alden, American writer and editor for 50 years of Harper's Magazine and descendent of John and Priscilla Alden of the Mayflower fame, was born in Mount Tabor, Vermont, on 3 November 1836. In 1853 he entered Williams College, where his fellow students included James A. Garfield, John J. Ingalls, and Horace E. Scudder.

After attending Williams, Alden spent three years at Andover Theological Seminary. Though he never entered the ministry, he often served as preacher at neighborhood parishes. Alden's literary career began while he was in the seminary with the acceptance of two articles by the Atlantic Monthly. The articles, one of which was on the Eleusinian Mysteries, had been sent, unbeknownst to him, to the Atlantic Monthly by his friend Harriet Beecher Stowe.

In 1861, Alden moved to New York and taught at a young ladies' school. He also made occasional contributions to The Times (New York) and the New York Evening Post. His connection with Harper and Brothers was established the next year, when the publishing house printed a guidebook of the Central Railroad of New Jersey, which Alden had been commisioned to write. Alden then became assistant editor of Harper's Weekly, and in 1869, he was made editor of Harper's Magazine, a position he continued to fill until his death in 1919.

In addition to the monthly essays which he wrote for Harper's Magazine, Alden published three books: God in His World (1890), A Study of Death (1895), and Magazine Writing and New Literature (1908). He also edited several volumes of American literature and short stories with William Dean Howells. A member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, Alden received the honorary degrees of Doctor of Literature and Doctor of Laws in 1890 and 1907, respectively, from his alma mater.


New York Times, 8 October 1919, 19: 3.

Scope and Content Note

The Henry Mills Alden papers, spanning the dates 1862 to 1908, consist of correspondence from various literary figures to American author and editor of Harper's Magazine, Henry Mills Alden, as well as a photograph of William Sharp. Among the correspondents are the following: Edwin Austin Abbey (1851-1911), Lyman Abbott (1835-1922), Thomas Bailey Aldrich (1832-1907), John Bigelow (1817-1911), George William Curtis (1824-1892), Charles Anderson Dana (1819-1897), Richard Watson Gilder (1844-1909), Edmund Gosse (1849-1928), Edward Everett Hale (1822-1909), Whitelaw Reid (1837-1912), Horace Elisha Scudder (1838-1902), William Sharp (1855-1905), Edmund Clarence Stedman (1833-1908), and Henry Van Dyke (1852-1933). The collection is arranged alphabetically by correspondent.

The letters deal with both personal and business matters. Many of them detail publishing and editorial decisions; discuss works in progress; and offer commendations on Alden's various publications, thanks for his help, and sympathy upon the death of Alden's wife. It is clear that Alden's relationships with several of the correspondents -- notably Horace E. Scudder, John Bigelow, William Sharp, and Edmund Clarence Stedman -- extended beyond merely that of publisher and author.

Horace Scudder, a fellow classmate of Alden's at Williams College, served as editor of the Atlantic from 1890 to 1898, prolifically wrote children's books, and published several other books, including biographies of Noah Webster (1882) and George Washington (1890), Stories and Romances (1880), and A History of the United States (1884).

John Bigelow, too, published biographies: one of William Cullen Bryant (1893), with whom he had worked on the New York Evening Post, and another of Samuel J. Tilden (1895), under whom he had served as secretary of state during Tilden's term as governor of New York. Bigelow wrote several other works on American historical figures and about his travels, which included a stint as minister to France.

Edmund Clarence Stedman, an influential American critic, was one of the first to recognize the talents of Walt Whitman. Stedman produced several works of criticism as well as his own volumes of poetry, among them Poems, Lyrical and Idyllic (1860); Alice of Monmouth, An Idyl of the Great War, With Other Poems (1869); and The Blameless Prince and Other Poems (1869).

Stedman, like Alden, was a close friend of Scottish poet, biographer, and editor William Sharp. Sharp's works include biographies of Shelley (1887), D. G. Rossetti (1882), Heine (1888), and Browning (1890); several volumes of poetry under both his name and the name Fiona Macleod; the novels Fellowe and His Wife (1892), Wives in Exile (1896), and Silence Farm (1899); short stories; and two critical works, Progress of Art in the Century (1902) and Literary Geography (1904).

Contents List

Box -- Folder -- Contents

1    F1   Abbey, Edwin Austin, 1852-1911.
               1891  Jun 9         ALS       6p   

     F2   Abbott, Lyman, 1835-1922.
               1908  Nov 5         ALS       4p   

     F3   Aldrich, Thomas Bailey, 1836-1907.
               1895  Feb 7         ALS       3p   
     F4   Bigelow, John, 1817-1911.
          Includes letters written to Harper and Brothers, where Alden served as editor of 
Harper's Magazine. 1888 Sep 26 ALS 2p 1895 Feb 17 ALS 1p Jun 28 ALS 4p 1897 May 3 ALS 4p Nov 26 ALS 3p Note: includes photo of William Sharp, signed on verso "William
Sharp." 1902 Nov 15 TLS 1p (to Harper and Brothers) 1903 Apr 13 ALS 3p (to Harper and Brothers) 1907 Jul 3 TLS 2p (to Harper and Brothers) Aug 25 ALS 2p (to Harper and Brothers) Sep 10 TLS 1p (to Harper and Brothers) Sep 14 TLS 1p (to Harper and Brothers) Oct 7 TLS 1p (to Harper and Brothers) F5 Curtis, George William, 1824-1892. 1866 Oct 5 ALS 3p F6 Dana, Charles Anderson, 1819-1897. 1897 Apr 9 ALS 1p F7 Gilder, Richard Watson, 1844-1909. 1888 Apr 16 ALS 2p 1890 Jun 1 ALS 2p 1908 Nov 12 ALS 2p Dec 5 ACS 2p F8 Gosse, Edmund, 1849-1928. 1908 Nov 20 ACS 2p F9 Hale, Edward Everett, 1822-1909. 1875 Jun 2 ALS 2p 1890 Aug 13 ALS 3p 1903 Dec 21 ALS 2p F10 Reid, Whitelaw, 1837-1912. 1873 Dec 19 ALS 1p F11 Scudder, Horace Elisha, 1838-1902. 1862 Jul 27 ALS 3p 1863 Apr 25 ALS 3p 1864 Feb 3 ALS 6p Sep 21 ALS 2p 1866 Nov 17 ALS 2p 1869 Oct 16 ALS 1p 1880 Jan 24 ALS 1p 1890 Mar 24 ALS 2p 1891 Dec 22 ALS 2p 1895 Jul 30 ALS 4p 1897 Jun 16 ALS 2p 1900 Feb 25 ALS 3p F12 Sharp, William, 1855-1905. Includes correspondence to Alden's wife and daughter, Annie. 1893 Apr 19 ALS 4p 1894 Jul 9 ALS 1p (to Mrs. Alden) 1901 Feb 22 ALS 6p 1902 Jul 21 ALS 4p [n.d.] ALS 4p (to Annie Alden) Note: incomplete. [n.y.]Jul 20 ALS 4p (to Annie Alden) 1 F12 Sharp, William, 1855-1905. (cont'd) [n.d.] ALS 1p (to Annie Alden) [n.d.] ALS 3p Note: incomplete. F13 Stedman, Edmund Clarence, 1833-1908. 1880 May 16 ALS 2p Nov 25 ALS 4p 1881 Sep 19 ALS 4p 1891 Jan 26 ALS 2p May 23 ALS 6p 1893 Nov 21 ALS 3p 1897 Jun 6 ALS 1p [n.y.]Nov 24 ACS 2p F14 Van Dyke, Henry, 1852-1933. [1900]Mar 15 ALS 1p 1900 Mar 31 ALS 2p F15 Miscellaneous 1864 Dec 23 ALS 1p (from Harper and Brothers) 1906 Nov 10 TL 1p (from J. J. Murphy)
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