The author of this balanced, witty and unobtrusively erudite biography of a 19th- century Bostonian and his friends is Professor of English at Douglass College, Rutgers University and is also a writer of whodunits; in this book, which also contains an excellent study of Emily Dickinson, she has successfully abandoned fiction for fact. Born in 1823 of a large and formidable Boston family, Thomas Wentworth Higginson never quite achieved the fame for which he was supposedly destined, becoming instead the friend and mentor of the famous. A graduate of Harvard Divinity School, a man of charm and brilliance tied to a complaining invalid wife, he left the ministry to lecture, teach and write, and to crusade for Abolition, Women's Rights and Temperance. He was one of the first to proclaim Thoreau's gifts as a writer; as one of Emily Dickinson's rare friends he edited her poems after her death, for which he was bitterly criticized. In the Civil War he served briefly as Colonel of a regiment of Freed Slaves, an experience which led to his detailed and authentic study of Negro folk-music. He died in 1911, his crusades forgotten, his friends long dead. Written with cool and humorous detachment, this book will appeal to students of the Boston literary scene and to those literate readers who delight in good biography; it will form an excellent outside reader for courses in 19th-century American literature.