Fletcher, Harris Francis (1892-1979) | University of Illinois Archives

Name: Fletcher, Harris Francis (1892-1979)

Historical Note:

Harris Francis Fletcher (1892-1979) joined the faculty of the English Department at the University of Illinois (UI) in 1926 and retired in 1963. During his long career, he was associate dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences (1931-38), professor of English (1938-63), and professor emeritus (1963-79). Fletcher was a renowned scholar of the English poet John Milton (1608-74) and is known at UI for his spearheading the creation of the John Milton Collection at the Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Fletcher was born in Ypsilanti, Michigan, in 1892, to parents Elizabeth Larubie Fletcher and Azro Fletcher. He earned a bachelor's degree from Michigan State Normal College (1912) and a PhD from the University of Michigan in 1925. Over the course of his career, he specialized in the works of Milton, and he published extensively, including three monographs on Milton's Semitic studies and Biblical references, a bibliography of Milton's works, a textbook on Milton's poetry, a four-volume critical facsimile of Milton's poetry, and a two-volume work The Intellectual Development of John Milton (1956). Fletcher also wrote around twenty-five journal articles on Milton in addition to creating an unpublished index of the author's prose. At the UI, he contributed as educator, administrator, and editor-in-chief of Illinois Studies in Language and Literature. Fletcher initiated and led the UI library's acquisition of first-edition Milton publications as well as extensive seventeenth-century contextual materials (e.g., works of literature, history, theology, science, and geography contemporary to Milton). His efforts ultimately led to the creation of the library's Rare Book Room in 1943.

Fletcher was recognized by the Milton Society of America in 1960 for his publication Milton's Complete Poetical Works (1943-48) and in 1961 as Scholar of the Year. He received an honorary doctorate from UI in 1962.

Fletcher married Dorothy Bacon in 1921, and they had three daughters. He retired in 1963 and died in 1979.


"Harris Fletcher," News Gazette, July 18, 1979.

Marvin T. Herrick, "Harris Francis Fletcher," The Journal of English and Germanic Philology 60, no. 4 (October 1961): pp. 609â??613. https://www.jstor.org/stable/27713918.

"Milton and the Book Arts," Rare Book and Manuscript Library UIUC, accessed June 3, 2020, https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/2c7f/6cccdc222b454e0aaca4b5aac67424476a2d.pdf.

Wikipedia, s.v. "Harris Fletcher," accessed June 3, 2020, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harris_Fletcher

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