Prize-Winning Historian Robert D. Richardson, Who Wrote About American Thinkers, Dies At Age 86

Historians in the News
tags: obituaries, intellectual history

Robert D. Richardson, a prize-winning historian known for his elegant and authoritative biographies of such leading American thinkers as William James and Ralph Waldo Emerson, has died.

His friend Arlo Haskell told The Associated Press that Richardson died last Tuesday after sustaining head injuries in a fall. Richardson, husband of the Pulitzer Prize-winning writer Annie Dillard, turned 86 just days before his death.

A native of Milwaukee, Richardson grew up in Massachusetts and had a close affinity with Emerson, Henry David Thoreau and other New England writers. The house in Medford was the former meeting place for the Transcendental Club, whose members included Thoreau and Margaret Fuller. Concord was home in the 19th century to Emerson and Thoreau among others.

Richardson won the Bancroft Prize in 2007 for “William James: In the Maelstrom of American Modernism,” which judges praised as “a virtual intellectual genealogy of American liberalism and, indeed, of American intellectual life in general, through and beyond the twentieth century.” In 1996, his “Emerson: The Mind On Fire" won the Francis Parkman Prize and was a National Book Critics Circle finalist.


Read entire article at USA Today

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