Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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O'CONNOR, William Douglas, author, born in Boston, Massachusetts, 2 January, 1833. He spent his early years in Boston studios engaged in the study of painting. Forced to abandon his purpose, he turned to humble employments for a livelihood, and before the age of twenty became associate editor of the Boston "Commonwealth," a famous Free-soil daily. In 1854-'60 he was an editor of the Philadelphia "Saturday Evening Post," in 1861 became corresponding clerk of the light-house board in Washington, in 1873 chief clerk, in 1874 librarian of the treasury department, and in 1878 assistant general superintendent of the life-saving service, of the annual reports of which he is the author. He has published " Harrington," a powerful romance (Boston, 1860); " The Good Gray Poet," an impassioned pamphlet in vindication of Walt Whitman, marked as much by its familiarity with the world's highest literature as by its courage of opinion (New York, 1866) ; " The Ghost," a story (1867); and tales and poems in periodicals. In 1882 he attracted public attention by a series of articles in the New York" Tribune," exposing and denouncing in the interests of literary freedom, an attempt of certain legal authorities in Boston to suppress Whitman's "Leaves of Grass." A year later, on the occasion of the republication of his "Good Gray Poet" in Dr. R. M. Bucke's monograph entitled "Walt Whitman" (Philadelphia, 1883), he contributed a long letter of preface. He has been a defender and expounder of Delia Bacon's general theory of the authorship of the Shakespeare drama, and has published " Hamlet's Note-Book " (Boston, 1886), a discussion of the main points at issue, involving a striking contrast between Shakespeare and Bacon personally, and taking the extreme Baconian ground. His publications have been mainly impromptu and occasional. Among his most notable poems are "To Athos" and "To Fanny"" of his short tales, "What Cheer ?" and " The Carpenter."
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