Biography and History

Thomas Herbert Johnson was born in Bradford, Vermont, on 27 April 1902. He was the son of Herbert Thomas and Myra (Burbeck) Johnson.

Johnson studied English at both Williams College (A.B. 1926) and Harvard University (A.M. 1929, Ph.D. 1934) before beginning his own career as an educator. His first teaching position was at Rutgers University (1928-1929), but he returned to his undergraduate alma mater the following year (1929-1931). Next he taught at the Hackley School (Tarrytown, N.Y.) from 1931 to 1937, before moving to the Lawrenceville School (Lawrenceville, N.J.) where Johnson would teach until 1972, as well as serve as English department chair (1944-1967).

During his long tenure at Lawrenceville, Johnson also served as a guest lecturer at many institutions, including Chautauqua (1937), New School for Social Research (1943-1944), Columbia University (1948), Harvard University (1950), University of Copenhagen (1951-1952), University of Pennsylvania (1958-1959), and New York University (1959-1960).

Johnson was a renowned scholar of Emily Dickinson. He wrote Emily Dickinson: An Interpretative Biography (1955), as well as edited several volumes of her poems and letters: The Poems of Emily Dickinson, Including Variant Readings Critically Compared With all Known Manuscripts (1955), The Letters of Emily Dickinson (1958), The Poems of Emily Dickinson (1963), The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson (1970), Emily Dickinson: Selected Letters (1971), and Final Harvest: Emily Dickinson's Poems (1984).

Johnson's other published writings include editing three books relating to teaching and youth, two works relating to Jonathan Edwards, and The Poetical Works of Edward Taylor (1939).

On 11 September 1934, Johnson married Catherine Schyler Rice. Together they had a daughter and son, Laura Bradley and Thomas. Johnson died on 3 January 1985; he was 82 years old.

Source: From the finding aid for C0468