Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, 1807–82, American poet, b. Portland, Maine, grad. Bowdoin College, 1825. He wrote some of the most popular poems in American literature, in which he created a new body of romantic American legends. Descended from an established New England family, after college he spent the next three years in Europe, preparing himself for a professorship of modern languages at Bowdoin, where he taught from 1829 to 1835. After the death of his young wife in 1835, Longfellow traveled again to Europe, where he met Frances Appleton, who was to become his second wife after a long courtship. She was the model for the heroine of his prose romance, Hyperion (1839). From 1836 to 1854, Longfellow was professor of modern languages at Harvard, and during these years he became one of an intellectual triumvirate that included Oliver Wendell Holmes and James Russell Lowell. Although a sympathetic and ethical person, Longfellow was uninvolved in the compelling religious and social issues of his time; he did, however, display interest in the abolitionist cause. He achieved great fame with long narrative poems such as Evangeline (1847), The Song of Hiawatha (1855), The Courtship of Miles Standish (1858), and Tales of a Wayside Inn (1863), which included "Paul Revere's Ride." In all of these works he used unusual, "antique" rhythms to weave myths of the American past. His best-known shorter poems include "The Village Blacksmith," "Excelsior," "The Wreck of the Hesperus," "A Psalm of Life," and "A Cross of Snow." Although he was highly praised and successful in his lifetime, Longfellow's literary reputation has declined in the 20th cent. His unorthodox meters, while contributing to the unique effects of his poems, have been much parodied, and many critics have viewed harshly his simple, sentimental, often moralizing verse. Longfellow made a poetic translation of Dante's Divine Comedy (1867), for which he wrote a sequence of six outstanding sonnets. After his death, he was the first American whose bust was placed in the Poet's Corner in Westminster Abbey.

See his letters (ed. by A. Hilen, 4 vol., 1967–72); biographies by his brother, Samuel (3 vol., 1891; repr. 1969), T. W. Higginson (1902, repr. 1973), and N. Arvin (1963); studies by C. B. Williams (1964) and E. C. Wagenknecht (1986).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2018, The Columbia University Press.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Selected full-text books and articles

A Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Companion By Robert L. Gale Greenwood Press, 2003
FREE! The Complete Poetical Works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Houghton, Mifflin, 1883
Librarian's tip: includes "Evangeline, A Tale of Acadie" on p. 95 and "The Song of Hiawaths" on p. 141
PRIMARY SOURCE
A primary source is a work that is being studied, or that provides first-hand or direct evidence on a topic. Common types of primary sources include works of literature, historical documents, original philosophical writings, and religious texts.
FREE! Tales of a Wayside Inn By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Ticknor and Fields, 1863
PRIMARY SOURCE
A primary source is a work that is being studied, or that provides first-hand or direct evidence on a topic. Common types of primary sources include works of literature, historical documents, original philosophical writings, and religious texts.
FREE! Divine Tragedy By Henry Wadsworth Longfellow J. R. Osgood and Company, 1871
PRIMARY SOURCE
A primary source is a work that is being studied, or that provides first-hand or direct evidence on a topic. Common types of primary sources include works of literature, historical documents, original philosophical writings, and religious texts.
Longfellow: His Life and Work By Newton Arvin Little, Brown and Company, 1963
Inward Sky: The Mind and Heart of Nathaniel Hawthorne By Hubert H. Hoeltje Duke University Press, 1962
The Story of America: Essays on Origins By Jill Lepore Princeton University Press, 2012
Longfellow's Evangeline and the Cult of Acadia By Evans, James Allan Contemporary Review, Vol. 280, No. 1633, February 2002
Why Read the Song of Hiawatha? By Timko, Mike The World and I, Vol. 29, No. 12, December 2014
A Poem of Pure Enjoyment By Jarman, Mark The Hudson Review, Vol. 57, No. 4, Winter 2005
H.W. Longfellow: A Poetical-Dwelling Poet of Ecological Wisdom from the Perspective of Eco-Criticism By Xu, Jingcheng; Nangong, Meifang English Language Teaching, Vol. 5, No. 5, May 2012
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
From National to Supranational Conception of Literature: The Case of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow By Salska, Agnieszka ATQ (The American Transcendental Quarterly), Vol. 20, No. 4, December 2006
When Readers Become Fans: Nineteenth-Century American Poetry as a Fan Activity By Blake, David Haven American Studies, Vol. 52, No. 1, January 1, 2012
PEER-REVIEWED PERIODICAL
Peer-reviewed publications on Questia are publications containing articles which were subject to evaluation for accuracy and substance by professional peers of the article's author(s).
Professor Longfellow of Harvard By Carl L. Johnson University of Oregon, 1944
PRIMARY SOURCE
A primary source is a work that is being studied, or that provides first-hand or direct evidence on a topic. Common types of primary sources include works of literature, historical documents, original philosophical writings, and religious texts.
Young Longfellow (1807-1843) By Lawrance Thompson The Macmillan Company, 1938
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