A Passionate Life

W. H. H. Murray, from Preacher to Progressive

By Randall S. Beach

Subjects: Biography, New York/regional, Environmental Philosophy, General Interest, Nineteenth-century Studies
Series: Excelsior Editions
Imprint: Excelsior Editions
Hardcover : 9781438489353, 189 pages, September 2022
Paperback : 9781438489346, 189 pages, March 2023

Alternative formats available from:

Table of contents


Part One: Beginnings

1. Guilford

2. Yale

3. Seminary

Part Two: Reverend

4. Pastor

5. Park Street: 1869

6. Adventures in the Wilderness

7. The Rush

8. Park Street: Muscular Christian

9. The Perfect Horse

10. Park Street: Separation

11. Boston Music Hall

Part Three: Miscellaneous Man

12. Texas

13. Montreal

14. Burlington

15. Lake Champlain

Part Four: Home

16. Home and Family

17. How I am Educating My Daughters

Books by W. H. H. Murray

The first full biography of W. H. H. Murray (1849-1904), a Boston preacher often described as the father of the American outdoor movement and the modern vacation.


Finalist for the 2022 Foreword INDIES Book of the Year Award in the Biography Category

One hundred fifty years ago, the Adirondack Mountains were overrun. Thousands of middle-class urbanites from Boston and New York City abandoned the comfort of their homes and rushed into the unknown, northern wilderness, believing they would find great restorative and even curative powers. These would-be adventurers were informed by one man, William Henry Harrison Murray, a preacher from Boston. A Passionate Life is the first comprehensive biography of Murray, a man who has been described as the father of the American outdoor movement and the modern vacation. While he is best known for his promotion of the Adirondacks in the late nineteenth century, Murray was a complex character who was driven to promote his many passions. From the 1860s until his early twentieth-century death, Murray was a famous preacher, popular writer and lecturer, an equine enthusiast, patent owner, publisher, businessman, lumberman, temperance advocate, free lover, women's rights advocate and advocate for educational reform. In many ways, Murray's passions followed the progressive movements within nineteenth-century America and attempted to address questions still relevant to today's society.

Randall S. Beach, the great-great-grandson of Murray, is an attorney with the law firm of Whiteman Osterman and Hanna LLP, in Albany, New York.


"This well-written and interesting biography of Murray, who was both a pillar and a character, will appeal to anyone interested in the Adirondacks and their history." — Anastasia Pratt, Clinton County Historian