Paul Elmer More Biography


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Paul Elmer More was the seventh child in a large family. His father was a teacher, businessman, and bookseller. His mother was chiefly responsible for developing the literary tastes of the children; two of More’s older brothers became writers, and a younger brother became dean of the graduate school at the University of Cincinnati.

More attended Washington University, where he received his B.A. and M.A. His schooling was occasionally interrupted because of financial difficulties at home when he was forced to teach for a living. In 1892 he went to Harvard University and studied Sanskrit. There he formed what was to be a lifelong friendship with Irving Babbitt. More received a second M.A. in 1893 and worked as an assistant in Sanskrit until he was offered a position teaching Sanskrit and classical literature at Bryn Mawr College. He said he never understood why this position was offered to him, and after teaching there for two years he found the routine so deadening that he resigned, went to Shelburne, New Hampshire, and stayed there in comparative isolation for two years. During that time he read and wrote steadily. He had already published a volume of poems, Helena and Occasional Poems, in 1890 and The Great Refusal in 1894, in which he rejected Christianity in favor of Hindu mysticism.

In 1900 he left his retreat and married Henrietta Beck of St. Louis. They had two daughters. He then became a journalist for a period of...

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Paul Elmer More Bibliography

(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Dakin, Arthur H. Paul Elmer More. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1960. A biography of More. Includes a bibliography.

Davies, Robert M. The Humanism of Paul Elmer More. New York: Bookman Associates, 1958. A full-length study of More.

Duggan, Francis X. “Paul Elmer More and the New England Tradition.” American Literature 34 (January, 1963). By a noted More biographer.

Hoeveler, J. David. The New Humanism: A Critique of Modern America, 1900-1940. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 1977. Includes discussions of both Irving Babbitt and More.

Tanner, Stephen L. Paul Elmer More: Literary Criticism as the History of Ideas. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1987. A 267-page study devoted to More.