|Birth: ||Feb. 12, 1893|
|Death: ||Dec. 25, 1971|
Rhode Island, USA
Samuel Foster Damon (1893-1971) was a distinguished writer, teacher, and scholar at Brown for more than 40 years.
He was born in Newton, Massachusetts, on February 12, 1893. In 1914 he graduated from Harvard, where he majored in music and in his last two years was captain of the fencing team. Damon worked in an airplane factory during the first World War, and gave bayonet instruction to student soldiers at Harvard. After the war he was an instructor in the English Department at Harvard, where he wrote and published his book, William Blake, His Philosophy and Symbols in 1924; and where he earned a Master of Arts degree in 1926. In his review of Damon's book, Richard Le Gallienne noted that Damon, with his interest in alchemy and spiritualism, was especially qualified to expound "the esoteric side of Blake's genius," and placed Blake "in his historical earthly setting with true biographical art." Damon became one of the world's leading authorities on Blake, and in 1955 he traveled to London be the guest of honor at the annual William Blake dinner.
Damon came to Brown in 1927 where his cousin, Lindsay Todd Damon, already was teaching. Both of them held positions in the English Department, Foster Damon at first as an assistant professor. In 1930 he was promoted to associate professor and professor in 1936. In addition to his teaching Damon was curator of the Harris Collection of American Poetry and Plays in the John Hay Library. He was particularly interested in building up its extensive collection of sheet music, and during his more than 40 years as a curator the collection grew from 57,000 books to more than 140,000 volumes, from 8,000 pieces of sheet music to 101,000, and from 400 manuscripts to 27,000. He shared his knowledge in a television presentation, "Styles in Santa Claus," on the "Evening on College Hill" series. Moreover he was interested in the history of square dancing and actively participated in a square dancing group consisting of library employees and others interested persons.
Foster's talents and interests ranged far and wide. He wrote an annual Punch and Judy show for the Sea Fair at Annisquam, Massachusetts, where he spent his summers. His play, "The Witch of Dogtown," which won the Russel Crouse award, was produced in Gloucester, Massachusetts, in 1955. He also was a founder of the Harvard Musical Review . Damon's verse was published in Eight Harvard Poets , and under the pseudonym "Samuel Nomad" in 1964 he published a book of 66 sonnets entitled Nightmare Cemetery . In the last year of his life he finally published The Moulton Tragedy, a heroic poem with lyrics , on which he had been working since 1928.
In 1968 Brown University published William Blake: Essays for S. Foster Damon , and celebrated his seventy-fifth birthday with a two-day festival. The same year Damon read from his poems, a music professor played his compositions, students performed parts of Damon's play, "Witch of Dogtown," and a seminar on Blake was held.
Damon also received an honorary Litt.D. degree from Brown in 1968, and was awarded with a citation that began: "No citation can summarize adequately the variety of your accomplishments. Your pioneering book, published in 1924, is the foundation for all serious critical study of William Blake conducted since. Your work on Amy Lowell, Thomas Holley Chivers, James Joyce, and many other authors is distinguished. Poet, playwright, composer, pianist, choreographer, gourmet, etc. Few men, even of the Renaissance, have shown your omnipresence in the creative arts, and your sensitivity to all of them." Damon died on December 25, 1971 in Smithfield, Rhode Island.This portrait was painted by Damon's wife Louise Wheelwright Damon in 1924. During their active lives in Providence Louise and Foster Damon were known for entertaining their colleagues and friends, and for their Halloween parties for neighborhood children. In 2005 this painting was treated at the New London, Connecticut, conservation laboratory of Lance Myers & Gay Myers. There a tear in the canvas was mended and losses to the paint were filled.
Created by: Linda Mac
Record added: May 29, 2011
Find A Grave Memorial# 70561891
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