William Allan Neilson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

William Allan Neilson
Born(1869-03-28)28 March 1869
Died13 February 1946(1946-02-13) (aged 76)
Occupation(s)Educator, writer, and lexicographer
Board member ofG.C. Merriam and Co., NAACP, National Refugee Service
SpouseElisabeth Muser
Academic background
Alma materUniversity of Edinburgh, Harvard University
Academic work
InstitutionsBryn Mawr College, Harvard University, Columbia University, Smith College
Notable worksThe Facts about Shakespeare

William Allan Neilson (28 March 1869 – 13 February 1946) was a Scottish-American educator, writer and lexicographer, graduated in the University of Edinburgh in 1891 and became a PhD in Harvard University in 1898. He was president of Smith College between 1917 and 1939.


Neilson was born in Doune, Scotland on 28 March 1869.[2] He emigrated to the United States in 1895, being naturalised 3 August 1905. He taught at Bryn Mawr College from 1898 to 1900, Harvard from 1900 to 1904, Columbia from 1904 to 1906, and Harvard again from 1906 to 1917. Neilson was author of a number of critical works on William Shakespeare, Robert Burns and the Elizabethan theatre, editor of the Cambridge and Tudor editions of Shakespeare (1906, 1911) and editor of Webster's New International Dictionary, Second Edition (1934).[3] Less known is his translation of the famous late 14th century Middle English alliterative chivalric romance Sir Gawain and the Green Knight.

Neilson was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1914 and the American Philosophical Society in 1944.[4][5]

He died at the Smith College infirmary in Northampton, Massachusetts on 13 February 1946.[2]



  1. ^ "William Allan Neilson Personal Papers, 1952–1946, Biographical Note". Five College Archives & Manuscript Collections. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  2. ^ a b "Smith's Beloved Dr. Neilson Dies". Holyoke Transcript-Telegram. 14 February 1946. pp. 1, 4. Retrieved 30 April 2023 – via Newspapers.com.
  3. ^ "President William Allan Neilson". Smithipedia. Retrieved 26 April 2017.
  4. ^ "William Allan Neilson". American Academy of Arts & Sciences. 9 February 2023. Retrieved 3 April 2023.
  5. ^ "APS Member History". search.amphilsoc.org. Retrieved 3 April 2023.

Further reading[edit]

  • Margaret Farrand Thorp, Neilson of Smith (1956)

External links[edit]