Cross, Wilbur

Cross, Wilbur (Lucius)

(1862–1948) academic, governor; born in Gurleyville, Conn. Educated in a one-room schoolhouse, he studied English literature at Yale, receiving his Ph.D. in 1889. He taught English at a private school in Pittsburgh, Pa., returning to teach at Yale (1894–1930). Becoming editor of the Yale Review in 1911, he transformed it into a national quarterly of literature and public affairs. As dean of the Yale Graduate School (1916–30), he attracted scholars and built a graduate school quadrangle. He published several important works including The Development of the English Novel (1889), The Life and Times of Laurence Sterne (1909), and The History of Henry Fielding (1918). After retiring, he was elected Democratic governor of Connecticut (1931–39), much to the amazement of professional politicians. He sponsored public works and relief programs, reduced utility rates, reorganized state government, and established a highway system. Scandals connected with construction of the Merritt Parkway led to his defeat, although he was not the person charged with wrongdoing. While governor, he also headed the American Academy of Arts and Letters (1931–41).
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.
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