Reference Entry

Thayer, Alexander Wheelock

Benjamin Franklin

in American National Biography Online

Published in print January 1999 |
Published online February 2000 | e-ISBN: 9780198606697 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/anb/9780198606697.article.1601620

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Thayer, Alexander Wheelock (22 October 1817–15 July 1897), diplomat and biographer, was born in South Natick, Massachusetts, the son of Alexander Thayer, a physician, and Susanna Bigelow. As a Harvard undergraduate, Thayer wrote a prize-winning essay on modern philosophy. Following his graduation in 1843, he pursued a law degree at his alma mater while serving as an assistant librarian, a position in which he developed research skills that would ultimately permit him to succeed in his life’s work: writing a factually accurate biography of Beethoven. He received his law degree in 1848 and worked for a summer for the United States Geological Survey before leaving the next year for Europe, where he mastered the German language and conducted research on Beethoven in Bonn, Berlin, and Vienna. Lack of funds and ill health caused him to return to the United States in 1851; the following year he assumed an editorial position with the ...

Reference Entry.  918 words. 

Subjects: Diplomatic History ; International Relations ; Biographical Studies

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