William Oliver Stevens, author and illustrator of many books including the popular Nantucket book, “Nantucket, the Far-away Island,” was the first sales director for the fledgling Kenneth Taylor Galleries, in 1945-46. Stevens was, in addition to being an author and an educator, an equally skilled traveler, artist, and antiquarian. Dr. Stevens was born in Rangoon, Burma, on October 7, 1878, the son of Edward Oliver and Harriet Calista (Mason) Stevens. He received the Bachelor of Arts degree from Colby College in 1899, a Ph. D. degree from Yale University in 1903. He was an instructor of English from 1903 to 1905 and professor of English from 1905 to 1924 at the United States. Naval Academy in Annapolis, MD. He received a doctorate in literature from Colby in 1923, and he became headmaster of the Roger Ascham School, White Plains, NY, in 1924, then the first headmaster for the Cranbrook School, Bloomfield Hills, MI, in 1927. In 1936, he became the Dean of the School of Literature and Journalism at Oglethorpe University in Georgia, where he remained for two years before he retired. His best known work, in Nantucket, is, of course, “Nantucket, the Far-Away Island.” This was published in 1936, when Dr. Stevens and his family were summer residents of Nantucket. Their home was at 6 Pleasant street and, following his retirement from teaching, he spent several winters here. In addition to the above-named book, Dr. Stevens’ story of “Real Ghosts, Unbidden Guests”, which was published in 1945, also contains references to Nantucket.
His lone painting in the AAN Permanent Collection depicts the doorway of the Woodbox.