Henry Wadsworth Longfellow – Poet

Poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

BIRTHDAY: February 27, 1807
DEATH DATE: Mar 24, 1882 (age 75)

American Fireside Poet known for such lyrical works as The Song of Hiawatha and Evangeline. Also an educator, he taught at both Bowdoin College and Harvard College. He was also the first American to translate Dante Alighieri’s The Divine Comedy, and was one of the five Fireside Poets.

He was born in Portland, Maine, which was then a part of Massachusetts. He studied at Bowdoin College. After spending time in Europe he became a professor at Bowdoin and, later, at Harvard College. His first major poetry collections were Voices of the Night (1839) and Ballads and Other Poems (1841). Longfellow retired from teaching in 1854, to focus on his writing, living the remainder of his life in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a former headquarters of George Washington.

Longfellow wrote many lyric poems known for their musicality and often presenting stories of mythology and legend. He became the most popular American poet of his day and also had success overseas. He has been criticized, however, for imitating European styles and writing specifically for the masses. He published his first poem, “The Battle of Lovell’s Pond,” at age thirteen.

He was twice married — to Mary Potter and Frances Appleton — and was widowed by both of his wives. His first wife Mary Potter died in 1835, after a miscarriage. His second wife Frances Appleton died in 1861, after sustaining burns when her dress caught fire. After her death, Longfellow had difficulty writing poetry for a time and focused on his translation. He died in 1882.

He was famous for his 1860 historical poem, “Paul Revere’s Ride.”

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