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Albert Stanburrough Cook

Albert Stanburrough Cook Professor of English

Professor of English
Albert Stanburrough Cook
The basics

Quick Facts

Intro Professor of English
Was Professor
From United Kingdom
Type Academia
Gender male
Birth 6 March 1853, Montville, New Jersey
Death 1 September 1927, New Haven (aged 74 years)
The details


Albert Stanburrough Cook (March 6, 1853 – September 1, 1927) was an American philologist, literary critic, and scholar of Old English. He has been called "the single most powerful American Anglo-Saxonist of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries."


Cook was born in Montville, New Jersey. He began working as a mathematics tutor at sixteen and was offered chemistry professorship in Fukui, Japan before entering college, which he declined. He graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Rutgers College in 1872, writing a thesis on "The Inclined Planes of the Morris Canal," and taught there and at Freehold Academy while completing a Master of Science degree.

Having already learned German, he went on to study in Göttingen and Leipzig from 1877 to 1878, where he began learning languages including Latin, Greek, Italian, and Old English. He returned to the United States for two years as an associate in English at Johns Hopkins University, then in 1881 he spent time in London with phoneticist Henry Sweet studying manuscripts of Cynewulf and the Old Northumbrian Gospels at the British Museum. This work allowed him to complete a PhD in 1882 at the University of Jena, where he studied under Eduard Sievers. Cook became a professor of English in the University of California in 1882, where he re-organized the teaching of English in the state of California, introduced English requirements for university admission, and edited many texts for reading in secondary schools. He became chair of English language and literature at Yale University in 1889, where he remained for thirty-two years until his death and became a prolific editor of major English works and literary criticism.

Cook's best-known scholarly work is in Old English and in poetics, fields in which he produced over three hundred publications. He translated, edited, and revised Sievers' Old English Grammar (1885), edited Judith (1888), The Christ of Cynewulf (1900), Asser's Life of King Alfred (1905), and The Dream of the Rood (1905), and prepared A First Book in Old English Grammar (1894). He also edited, with annotations, Sidney's Defense of Poesie (1890); Shelley's Defense of Poetry (1891); Newman's Poetry (1891); Addison's Criticisms on Paradise Lost (1892); The Art of Poetry (1892), being the essays of Horace, Vida and Boileau; and Leigh Hunt's What is Poetry (1893); and published Higher Study of English (1906).

Cook married twice: first to Emily Chamberlain (1886), then to Elizabeth Merrill (1911). He died on September 1, 1927, in New Haven, Connecticut.

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