Thomas Wentworth Higginson, (1823-1911), is an interesting character, identified as an American Unitarian minister, author, abolitionist and soldier, (and the commander of the first federally authorized black regiment during the Civil War). He actively opposed the Fugitive Slave Act, openly supported John Brown, and was a vocal supporter of Woman's Rights and suffrage. After the Civil War he turned his attention to literature. In addition to publishing more than 25 books, Higginson emerged as an early champion of, mentor to, and editor of Emily Dickinson. As I say, interesting character.
This book was published in 1898. It is an odd, idiosyncratic collection of "tales" loosely relating to "...the wondrous tales that gathered for more than a thousand years about the islands of the Atlantic deep." He starts with islands visible to the European shore and then moves on to real and imaginary islands situate in the Atlantic, before arriving in America. This is a charming approach, and ends up also organizing the tales from oldest to newest.
As to the tales, we range from Atlantis to the Fountain of Youth, with a heavy dose of the Celtic early on. But here's the thing. Often these tales, with which one is mostly familiar in one form or another, are not well presented. Not so here. While this book came out in 1898, it feels fresh and is not at all weighed down by the dry, formal or overly sentimental style one would expect. If anything, the stories are rather lively, brisk and related in a very good-humored style. I did not expect this.
The upshot is that this turned out to be much more entertaining and refreshing than I had any right to expect. A brief browse will still be rewarded, but patient reading will be rewarded manyfold.
As to production, the book is reasonably well formatted, and certainly readable, for such an old freebie. It does not have an active Table of Contents, or at least not one that worked for me on my Kindle Touch.
All in all, an interesting and worthwhile find.
This book was converted from its physical edition to the digital format by a community of volunteers. You may find it for free on the web. Purchase of the Kindle edition includes wireless delivery.
About the Author
Thomas Wentworth Higginson (1823 - 1911) was an American Unitarian minister, author, abolitionist and soldier. He was active in the American Abolitionism movement during the 1840s and 1850s, identifying himself with disunion and militant abolitionism. He was a member of the Secret Six who supported John Brown. During the Civil War, he served as colonel of the 1st South Carolina Volunteers, the first federally authorized black regiment, from 1862-1864. Following the war, Higginson devoted much of the rest of his life to fighting for the rights of freed slaves, women and other disfranchised peoples.