Perry, Bliss (1860-1954)

Bliss Perry, son of Arthur Latham and Mary Brown (Smedley) Perry, was born November 25, 1860 in Williamstown.  He was educated in Williamstown, first at the Greylock Institute and then at Williams College.  He graduated from Williams in 1881 with a B.A. and in 1883 received an M.A.  He received an L.H.D. from Williams College in 1902, and served as a Williams trustee 1906-1934.

Bliss began his teaching career at Williams, serving as Professor of English and Elocution from 1886 to 1893.  Later he moved to Princeton, where he served as the Holmes Professor of English Literature 1893-1900.  From 1906 to 1930, he taught and served as the chair of the English Literature department at Harvard.  He taught a wide range of courses–18th-century English literature, comparative literature, political satire, lyric poetry–but stated that his favorite course was the one he taught on Emerson.

In 1899, he became editor of The Atlantic Monthly, one of the most prestigious literary publications at the time.  His contributors included Henry James. Booker T. Washington, Charles Eliot Norton, Edith Wharton, Sarah Orne Jewett, William James, Woodrow Wilson, Havelock Ellis, Jack London, and others.  He served as editor until 1909.

He married Annie L. Bliss August 7,1888 and had two daughters, Mrs. Thomas Woodward and Margaret S. Perry, and one son, Arthur B. Perry.  He lived the later years of his life at The Exeter Inn in Exeter, New Hampshire, and died there on February 13, 1954.

By Patrick J. McCurdy (Class of 2002)