The visit to Cambridge is to learn the plan of treatment of text which Dr. Farlow contemplated as shown by what he himself prepared and memoranda and instruction which he may have left and to learn whether such a text is now satisfactory to you and Mrs. Farlow and whoever else may have a hand in the matter of publication. I shall endeavor to write such a text as desired, but not subject to approval to be used or not as may seem fit after it is prepared. You should have confidence in my ability to such degree that if I write the text, it will be published as written without material change, the responsibility of authorship being given to me.
- Letter from Edward Angus Burt to Roland Thaxter February 16, 1926
Edward Angus Burt was born in Athens, Pennsylvania on April 8, 1859. His family moved to a dairy farm in Saratoga County, New York when he was a small boy and it was there that his curiosity about plants developed. He attended State Normal School in Albany where he learned to identify plants. His first job was as a teacher of natural sciences at Albany Academy. He saved his salary, determined to enter Yale Scientific School, but instead of attending college he accepted a teaching post at the State Normal School. He married Clara May Briggs and they raised four sons. In 1883 he was appointed to the Board of Regents' Examiners in New York State but left this position in 1885. In 1891 he entered the junior class at Harvard without examination.
At Harvard Burt came under the influence of Professors William G. Farlow and Roland Thaxter and decided to devote his life to mycology. He received his A.M. in 1894 and his Ph.D. in 1895. He was appointed Burr Professor of Natural History at Middlebury College where he taught from 1895-1913. He collected fungi extensively in the Middlebury vicinity and became very interested in Basidiomycetes. Much of his time was spent collecting and identifying specimens from correspondents.
In 1913 Dr. Burt moved to St. Louis, Missouri to become the librarian and mycologist at Washington University. He devoted most of his time to his monograph on Thelephoraceae. Much of his work was published in the Annals of the Missouri Botanical Garden. In 1926 Burt began work on the text for Icones Farlowianae, Farlow's unfinished tome. He worked on this project for three years.
Burt retired in 1938 and died in 1939. His personal herbarium was left to Harvard University.