Basil Lanneau Gildersleeve, American classical scholar and Professor of Greek and Latin, was born in 1831 in Charleston, S.C., the son of a Presbyterian evangelist. Gildersleeve began his academic career at the College of Charleston in 1845. He later was sent to Jefferson College at Canonsburg, Pa. (now Washington and Jefferson), where he was a sophomore at the age of 15. In 1847 he transferred to Princeton receiving his A.B. in 1849 and his A.M. in 1852. It was while at Princeton that he began the study of German and became passionately interseted in Germany. From 1859-1853, he studied and travelled throughout Germany with excursions to Austria and Italy. In 1853, he received his Ph.D at Gottingen. From 1856- 1876 he was professor of Greek at the University of Virginia and professor of Latin from 1861-1867. During the Civil War, he fought in the Confederate Army and was wounded in the leg in the Shenandoah Valley campaign. From 1876-1915 Gidersleeve was Professor of Greek at the Johns Hopkins University. He founded (in 1880) and edited (1880-1920) the American Journal of Philology. At Johns Hopkins University he was Francis White Professor from 1904-1915 and Emeritus from 1915-1924. He received the following honorary degrees: LLD William and Mary 1869; Harvard 1886: Universoty of Chicago 1901; Yale 1901; University of Pennsylvania 1911; DCL University of the South 1884; LHD Princeton 1899; Litt. D. Cambridge 1905; Oxford 1905.
He considered the main work of his life to be "The Historical Syntax of Classical Greek." This was begun and finished while at The Johns Hopkins University. The first part was brought out in 1900 and a second part in 1911. In 1909 "Hellas and Hesperia" was published and followed in 1915 by "The Creed of the Old South." Gildersleeve had a wide knowledge not only of Greek syntax and composition, but of Roman, English, French, German, Italian and Spanish literature. After teaching for more than 60 years, he retired from active work at The Johns Hopkins University in 1915. During his last years his hearing grew steadily worse and his eyesight failed. He died on January 9, 1924, aged 92 years.