Morse, Edward (1838 - 1925)

Genre: Non-Fiction - Scholarly

Edward Sylvester Morse was born and raised in Portland, ME. He was expelled from every school he attended until he began attending Gould Academy in Bethel, ME.

At 16, he worked as a draftsman for the Portland Company, a company which made steam engines for trains and ships, which developed his talent for making detailed drawings, useful later for his books on zoology.

At 17, he joined the Portland Society of Natural History. In 1856, he discovered a snail in Bethel which the Boston Society of Natural History proclaimed Tympanis morsei.

In 1859, he began studying marine biology, specializing in conchology, under the direction of Louis Agassiz, chair of zoology and geology at the Lawrence Scientific School of Harvard.

In 1866 he settled in Salem, MA where he helped establish the American Naturalist magazine where he worked as editor and provided many drawings.

In 1877, he sailed to Japan where he worked as a professor at Tokyo Imperial University. He was decorated with several prestigious awards by the Japanese. Part of his collections of Japanese pottery were later bought by the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and the rest became the Morse Collection at Peabody Essex Museum in Salem where he became director in 1880.

He died in Salem at the age of 87.

Selected Bibliography

  • First Book of Zoology (1875)
  • Japanese Homes and Their Surroundings (1886)
  • Glimpses of China and Chinese Homes (1902)
  • Japan Day by Day, 1877, 1878-79, 1882-83 (1917)
  • Observations on Living Gasteropods of New England (1921)