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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