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< Henry Wadsworth Longfellow >

  (1807 - 1882)

Short Biography

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine, the son of a prosperous lawyer. 

He was educated at the Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, graduating in 1825 (18). In 1826 (19) the college invited him to accept the new Chair of Modern Languages, with the understanding that he would be allowed time to travel in Europe before taking up his appointment. 

He visited Spain, Italy, France, Germany and England, mainly walking through the countryside and staying at small inns. 

He returned to America in 1829 (22), and in 1831 (24) married Mary Potter, a friend since his schooldays. 

Professorship : death of wife
In 1834 (27) he was appointed professor at Harvard, and once again made a visit to Europe, this time accompanied by his wife, who had a miscarriage and died in Rotterdam in 1835 (28). He returned home alone, settling in lodgings at Craigie House in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

First publication
He published Hyperion, a prose romance, then Voices of the Night (1839, 32), his first book of poetry, followed by Ballads and Other Poems (1841, 34). 

Second marriage
In 1843 (36) he married Frances Appleton, and his father-in-law gave the newly married couple Craigie House as a wedding present. His second marriage produced six children. 

Further publications
He published Evangeline in 1847 (40), which achieved broad critical acclaim, and The Seaside and the Fireside in 1849 (42). By this time he had begun to feel that his teaching career was hindering his writing, and he resigned from Harvard in 1854 (47). In 1855 (48) he published The Song of Hiawatha, followed by the The Courtship of Miles Standish (1858, 51). 

Second wife dies
His second wife died of burns in 1861 (54) in a freak accident at their home. 

Further publications and travel
In 1863 (56) he published Tales of a Wayside Inn, then turned to the translation of Danteís Divine Comedy, which he completed in 1867 (60). During his final tour of Europe in 1868/9 (61/2), he was awarded honorary degrees at both Oxford and Cambridge Universities. His trilogy, Christus, a Mystery, dealing with Christianity from its beginnings, and which he thought his best work, was published in 1872 (65), followed by Ultima Thule in 1880 (73). 

He continued writing verse right up to his death in 1882 (75), when his popularity was at its height.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Biography : Links to poetry

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