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Educator Bliss Perry Dies at 93 in Exeter


Bliss Perry, one of the pioneers in the teaching of American literature, and a distinguished University figure for over 40 years, died late Saturday night at the Exeter (N.H.) Hospital, at the age of 93. He had been ill for a short time.

His associates and students in the English department yesterday mourned his death, noting his ability as an educator and author. Perry was Francis Lee Higginson Professor of English Literature from 1909-1930, and an authority on 19th century writers.

He came to the University after editing the Atlantic Monthly. Previously, he had been professor of English at Williams, his alma, mater, and Princeton.

"At a period when the study of literature was in danger of becoming mere antiquarianism," professor of English Harry T. Levin '33 said last night, "he was one of those who did the most to humanize it. For those who followed his courses, or had the privilege of knowing him, the single word that comes to mind first is 'human' in all its best reverberations--humane, humanistic, humanitarian."

Perry was the last survivor of the University's famed literature-teaching triumvirate; the others were C. T. Copeland '82, former Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory, and George L. Kittredge '86, Gurney Professor of English. The three were linked in the famous poem "Kitty and Copey and Bliss" by Lawrence McKinney. .

As a professor here, Perry gave several popular courses in both American and English literature. One of his associates remembers an annual filed trip for American literature students to Emerson's home in Concord. His history of English literature for non-concentrators was also an undergraduates favorite.

Edited Emerson's Journals

Perry edited the works of both American and English writers, including "The Heart of Emerson's Journals," and an 18-volume "Little Masterpiece" series.

One of his best known non-academic works was "and Gladly Teach," an autobiographical work.

In addition, he took a great interest in education itself His essay "Teaching as a Career" is still distributed to graduate students interested in teaching.

Professor of English J. Douglas Bush, Perry's neighbor for ten years, yesterday described him as far more than a teacher. "He has always seemed the kind of man one would choose as a representative of New England character and culture at its best a richly rounded and winning personality who combined literature and flashing, humor and mellow wisdom, urbanity and integrity."

Perry was born in Williamstown and attended the Universities of Strasburg and Berlin after graduating from Williams. He was trustee-emeritus of Williams, and from 1930, when he retired from his teaching post, until 1914 served as a member of the Harvard Board of Overseers.

He leaves a son, Arthur Perry '06, headmaster of Milton Academy, and a daughter, Miss Margaret S. Perry

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