Bayard Taylor


Bayard Taylor

Bayard Taylor, the celebrated American traveler and author, was born in Kennett Square, Pennsylvania on January, 1825. He was the son of a farmer, descended from a Quaker family, who were among the first emigrants to that State, and associated with William Penn. He received a common school education, and at the age of seventeen became an apprentice in a printing office in Westchester.

He used his leisure hours for studying and writing verses, in which he was encouraged by such friends and as N. P. Willis, Parke Godwin, and Horace Greeley. In 1844 he collected his poems into a volume entitled "Ximena." In 1844 he went on a tour of Europe. After about two years of travel and study he returned to America and published an account of his experiences in " Views Afoot." In 1848 Taylor published his "Rhymes of Travel." In the same year he became permanently associated with the "New York Tribune." The following year he visited California, returning by way of Mexico in 1850. "Eldorado; or Adventures in the Path of Empire," describes this visit. His book "Book of Romances, Lyrics, and Songs" appeared in 1851 and narrated his tour of the Old World, including a journey of four thousand miles in the interior of Africa.

Taylor traveled in both Europe and Asia. While in China he was attached to the American Legation for two months. He accompanied the Perry Expedition to Japan from May - September, 1853. After detaching from the Perry Expedition, he reached New York near the close of the year 1853 completing more than fifty thousand miles of travel over a 2 1/3 year period. His descriptive letters are said to have contributed to the columns of the "New York Tribune" during his journey and furnished materials for several of the books of travel he subsequently published. Thus far I have not seen the newspaper articles to support the proposition that he wrote for the Tribune during the expedition. Taylor would have labored under a serious handicap in writing about the expedition as it was in progress as that type of activity was specifically forbidden by direct military order and Taylor was technically serving in the Navy. In accordance with Commodore Perry's directive, he turned over his records for use in writing the official (government) narrative of the expedition. As late of July 1856, Taylor was trying to regain possession of them.

In 1858 Taylor's narrative of a journey performed in the winter of 1856-7, entitled, "Northern Travel, Summer and Winter Pictures of Sweden, Denmark, and Lapland" was published. He also published "Travels in Greece and Russia, with an Excursion to Crete." In 1862 Mr. Taylor was appointed Secretary of the American Legation at St. Petersburg and acted as Charge d'Affaires. He retired from the office in 1863 and in the following year published "Hannah Thurston: A Story of American Life." This was followed in 1865 by "John Godfrey's Fortunes, related by Himself." About the same time his "Poems of the Orient" - "Poems of Home and Travel" - "The Poet's Journal" and a general collection of his "Poetical Works" were published. Other important works are "The Picture of St. John" a poem of artist life; "The Ballad of Abraham Lincoln" - "The Masque of the Gods" - "Lars: A Pastoral of Norway" - " Colorado, a Summer Trip" - "Frithiof's Saga" - "Byways of Europe" and a translation of "Faust."

In 1872 Taylor assumed the editorship of the "Illustrated Library of Travel, Exploration, and Adventure" a series of volumes containing a compilation of what is known of various lands and races. He also contributed to many magazines, periodicals, and journals, and delivered numerous lectures.

In April of 1878, Taylor was appointed Minister Plenipotentiary near the Court of the German Empire. He died in Berlin on the December 19, 1878 and was buried near his home in Pennsylvania.


Bayard Taylor


Bayard Taylor in Uniform about 1853
Probably from his Travels with Perry

As a Masters-Mate in the US Navy
he received the pay of $25 a month.

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