Curtis, George William

Curtis, George William

(1824–92) social reformer, author, editor; born in Providence, R.I. Influenced by Ralph Waldo Emerson at Brook Farm (early 1840s), he traveled in Europe and the Middle East (1846–50) and published two travel books (1851, 1852) and several popular novels. Back in New York City, he wrote literary essays for several magazines and became known for his "Easy Chair" pieces in Harper's Weekly. He spoke out increasingly on public affairs, both as a lecturer and (from 1863) as an editor for Harper's, advocating abolitionism (and later, black equality), women's rights, civil service reform, and restraint of corporate power. He turned down an ambassadorship to England (1877) to continue at Harper's where he remained influential as an editor and independent voice in national affairs.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.