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The Cambridge History of English and American Literature in 18 Volumes (1907–21).
VOLUME XVIII. Later National Literature, Part III.

XXV. Scholars

§ 34. Joseph Emerson Worcester

Joseph Emerson Worcester (1784–1865), a graduate of Yale in 1811 and Hawthorne’s schoolmaster at Salem in 1813, afterward removed to Cambridge, where he came to be numbered among the eccentric characters of the place, and produced school books and books of reference in history and geography. His series of dictionaries (1828, 1830, 1846, 1855) brought on the “War of the Dictionaries” with Webster and his adherents. Apart from irrelevant personalities, the controversy is reducible to one between a retiring and conservative scholar, willing to record the actualities of usage, and a brisk business man and linguistic reformer. Worcester’s large Dictionary of the English Language (1860) for a few years rivalled the Pictorial Webster of 1859, especially in England and in New England; but after the Unabridged of 1864 it lost popularity and authority.