Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
William Clark Russell, though of English parentage, was born in New York City on February 24, 1844. His father, Henry Russell, a well-known singer and composer of popular songs, was playing in the United States at the time. Russell’s mother, Isabella Lloyd Russell, was a distant relative of William Wordsworth and herself an amateur poet.
Russell spent adolescence and early adulthood, until 1865, under the hardship and privation of the British merchant marine, which undermined his health in later life but gave him an immense quantity of material about which to write. Prior to his sea service, he was educated at Winchester School, in England, and abroad. Upon retiring from the sea at twenty-two, he worked for several British newspapers, including the Newcastle Daily Chronicle and the London Daily Telegraph, contributing to the latter until 1889 under the pseudonym Seafarer.
When Russell began writing in 1874, he intended to pursue a career as a popular novelist, and during the remainder of his life he produced the remarkable total of fifty-seven volumes. His output included novels of life at sea, biographies, several collections of short stories, and a volume of light, entertaining poetry. Also intriguing is his dictionary, Sailors’ Language. A younger contemporary, admirer, and sometime correspondent of Herman Melville, Russell also claimed company with a small but earnest group of marines who whiled away long...
(The entire section is 380 words.)
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