David Mather Masson (1822-1907)

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David Mather Masson (1822-1907) was Regius Professor of Rhetoric and Belles Lettres (English Literature) at Edinburgh University from 1865 to 1895.


Masson was born in Aberdeen in 1822. He was educated at Aberdeen Grammar School, then studied at Marischal College, Aberdeen, where he graduated with degree of MA in 1839. He went to Edinburgh University to study Divinity with the intention of entering the Church, but gave up his studies. Masson embarked upon a literary career, first in Aberdeen, later in Edinburgh and London. He became Professor of English Literature at University College, London, in 1853, a post which he held for twelve years.

In 1865, he was elected to the Regius Chair of Rhetoric and English Literature at Edinburgh University, holding the chair until his resignation in 1895. While at Edinburgh University, Masson took a prominent part in the fight for the university education of women and he was the first professor to lecture to classes organised by the Edinburgh Ladies' Educational Association (later the Edinburgh Association for the University Education of Women). Masson Hall of Residence, the first residential accommodation for female students, was named in his honour.

Masson's publications include British Novelists and their Styles (1859), the multi-volume The Life of John Milton (1859-1894), and a biography of William Drummond of Hawthornden (1873). In 1893, he was appointed Historiographer Royal for Scotland.