World Library  
Flag as Inappropriate
Email this Article

Robert Underwood Johnson

Robert Underwood Johnson (January 12, 1853 – October 14, 1937) was a U.S. writer and diplomat. His wife was Katharine Johnson.


  • Biography 1
  • Writings 2
  • References 3
  • External links 4


A native of Washington, D.C., Johnson joined the staff of The Century Magazine in 1873. He became the magazine's associate editor in 1881, and in 1909, on the death of Richard Watson Gilder, succeeded to the editorial chair, which he occupied until May 1913. Johnson was also a longtime writer and editor for Scribner's Monthly.

Using the influence of The Century Magazine, Underwood, in conjunction with famed naturalist John Muir, was one of the driving forces behind the creation of Yosemite National Park in the California in 1890. In 1889, Johnson also encouraged Muir to "start an association" to help protect the Sierra Nevada, inspiring the formation of the Sierra Club in 1892.[1]

He married Katharine McMahon. They had a son, Owen McMahon Johnson (1878 - 1952), who became an American writer in his own right. In the 1890s, Robert Underwood and his wife Katharine became very close friends with the inventor Nikola Tesla.

Underwood became noted early for his work on international copyright. As secretary of the American Copyright League, he helped get the Law of 1891 passed, for which he was decorated by the French and Italian governments. He had a hand in many important publishing undertakings, and it was on his persuasion that Ulysses S. Grant wrote his Memoirs. He became permanent secretary of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He was a driving force for the effort to acquire and preserve as a museum the rooms in Rome where the poet John Keats and his friend Joseph Severn spent Keats's final months in 1821. You can visit this Keats Shelley Memorial in Rome today, where its windows look out over the Spanish Steps.

In 1916 he acted as pallbearer for the funeral of U.S. Ambassador to Italy from April 1920 to July 1921, and represented the United States as observer at the San Remo conference of the Supreme Council of the League. He was decorated by the Italian government in recognition of his work in behalf of good relations between Italy and the United States.


  • with Clarence Clough Buel, Battles and Leaders of the Civil War (1887–88)
  • The Winter Hour and Other Poems (New York: The Century, 1892).
  • Songs of Liberty and Other Poems (New York: The Century, 1897).
  • Poems (New York: The Century, 1902).
  • Saint Gaudens: An Ode (third edition, 1910)
  • Saint Gaudens: An Ode (fourth edition, 1914)
  • Poems of War and Peace (1916)
  • Italian Rhapsody and Other Poems of Italy (1917)
  • Collected Poems, 1881–1919 (New Haven: Yale University, 1920).
  • Remembered Yesterdays (Boston: Little, Brown, 1923).
  • Your Hall of Fame: Being an Account of the Origin, Establishment, and History of This Division of New York University, from 1900 to 1935 inclusive (New York: New York University, 1935).


  1. ^ Cohen, Michael P. (1988). The History of the Sierra Club: 1892–1970. San Francisco: Sierra Club Books. pp. pages 8–9.  

External links

  • Wikisource logo Works written by or about Robert Underwood Johnson at Wikisource
  • Guide to the Robert Underwood Johnson papers at The Bancroft Library
  • Guide to the Robert Underwood Johnson papers at New York Public Library
  • March 19, 1916, New York Times, Says “Vers Libre” Is Prose, Not Poetry; Robert Underwood Johnson Deplores Excesses of Ultra-Modern Writers in Rebellion Against What They Call Tyranny of Form
This article was sourced from Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License; additional terms may apply. World Heritage Encyclopedia content is assembled from numerous content providers, Open Access Publishing, and in compliance with The Fair Access to Science and Technology Research Act (FASTR), Wikimedia Foundation, Inc., Public Library of Science, The Encyclopedia of Life, Open Book Publishers (OBP), PubMed, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Center for Biotechnology Information, U.S. National Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, and, which sources content from all federal, state, local, tribal, and territorial government publication portals (.gov, .mil, .edu). Funding for and content contributors is made possible from the U.S. Congress, E-Government Act of 2002.
Crowd sourced content that is contributed to World Heritage Encyclopedia is peer reviewed and edited by our editorial staff to ensure quality scholarly research articles.
By using this site, you agree to the Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. World Heritage Encyclopedia™ is a registered trademark of the World Public Library Association, a non-profit organization.

Copyright © World Library Foundation. All rights reserved. eBooks from Project Gutenberg are sponsored by the World Library Foundation,
a 501c(4) Member's Support Non-Profit Organization, and is NOT affiliated with any governmental agency or department.