Frederic Harrison

© National Portrait Gallery, London

Frederic Harrison

(1831 - 1923)

Born in London, the historian and lawyer Frederic Harrison served as the president of the English Positivist Committee and wrote extensively, covering everything from radical politics and the U.S. Civil War to biographical sketches of fellow Victorians. “Far be it from me to gainsay the inestimable value of good books,” he wrote in The Choice of Books, “or to discourage any man from reading the best; but I often think that we forget that other side to this glorious view of literature—the misuse of books, the debilitating waste of brain in aimless promiscuous, vapid reading, or even, it may be, in the poisonous inhalation of mere literary garbage and bad men’s worst thoughts.”

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