Friday, June 14, 2013

June 14 - John Bartlett

Publisher John Bartlett was born June 14, 1820, in Plymouth, Massachusetts. He was a descendant of key members of the Plymouth Colony. A precocious child, he completed school at age 16 and began working at the University Bookstore in Cambridge that served Harvard, where he became so well known for his knowledge of books and quotations that the advice “Ask John Bartlett” was commonly offered to those seeking information. At age 29 he owned the store and, in 1855, he published the first edition of his Familiar Quotations, derived from the commonplace book he kept to answer queries. A third of the book comprised quotations from the Bible and Shakespeare’s works; the remainder came largely from the major English poets. Bartlett sold the bookstore during the Civil War and joined Boston publishers Little, Brown and Company, which printed nine editions of his compendium of quotations. He also compiled a huge concordance of Shakespeare’s works (1894), which took him an estimated 16,000 hours to complete.

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