Francis Otto Matthiessen, professor of History and Literature, jumped to his death early this morning from the 12th floor of the Hotel Manger in Boston.
A note left in the hotel room from which Matthiessen jumped indicated that his death had been at least partly the result of concern over political conditions in the world today. The 48-year-old professor was an outspoken advocate of Christian socialism.
According to Boston police, Matthiessen registered at the Manager at 6:50 p.m. yesterday. He then went to dinner at the home of his friend and colleague, Kenneth Murdock, Higginson Professor of English Literature. He left the Murdocks' home at 11:30 p.m. and apparently returned directly to the hotel.
At 12:40 a.m. police received a call from the hotel saying that a man had jumped from room 1219. Upon arrival at the City Hospital, the body was pronounced dead. It was identified later by Professor Murdock.
Born In California
Matthiessen was born in Pasadena, California, in 1902. He graduated from Yale in 1923 and went as a Rhodes Scholar to Oxford, where he received the degree of Bachelor of Literature. In 1925 he returned to Harvard and received the A.M. and Ph.D. degrees in 1926 and 1928. After a brief period as instructor at Yale, Matthiessen returned to Harvard in 1929 and has taught here since.
He was appointed professor in 1942, and for the last several years he has been secretary of the Committee on Degrees in History and Literature. During the present academic year he has been on sabbatical leave, working on a biography of Theodore Dreiser.
Note In Hotel
The note found in Matthiessen's room at the Hotel Manger read in part:
"I am depressed over world conditions. I am a Christian and a Socialist. I am against any order which interferes with that objective. I would like to be buried by the side of my mother in Springfield, Massachusetts."
The note also asked that his sister, Mrs. Harold Neubrandt, of North Tarrytown, New York, and Professor Murdock be notified.
The only other item found in the room, police said, was a pin of the Yale Skull and Bones Society of which Matthiessen was a member.
Matthiessen was the author of a number of books, including "American Renaissance," "The Achievement of T. S. Eliot," "Henry James: The Major Phase," and "From the Heart of Europe." He was considered an outstanding authority on James and Eliot.