reading public and literary luminaries such as James Fields and William Dean Howells. Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote to Larcom that "I have been reading your poems at all the spare moments I could find" ( Addison197). In a letter to Larcom, Longfellow enthusiastically wrote: "I always liked your poetry; and now like it more than ever" ( Addison198). By publishing the collected volume of Larcom's poetry as a household edition, Houghton Mifflin asserts Lucy Larcom's rightful place in a dominant middle-class American culture. Like the major poets of her age, Larcom was marketed to a growing and literate population.
Only one of Lucy Larcom's two books focusing on industrial labor in Lowell received a positive critical reception. The long narrative poem An Idyl of Work ( 1875), which is rooted in American idealism and romanticism, was harshly criticized at publication. For this poetic subject, Larcom's choice of genre and her use of blank verse are anachronistic. In the preface, the poet admits that "[t]he routine of such a life is essentially prosaic" (vii). The evocation of Lowell in the 1840s as well as the details of industrial labor and of white working- class women's lives are among the poem's greatest strengths. When she took up similar themes and subjects in the autobiographical A New England Girlhood ( 1889), Larcom was far more successful. The prose of autobiography is better suited to the purposes of representing life experiences in the industrial age. The text is only one of a few that recount women's lives in antebellum industrial America.
In the twentieth century, Lucy Larcom's poetry and prose have enjoyed some critical attention, particularly from feminist scholars seeking to uncover a women's poetic tradition. Notably, Cheryl Walker locates Larcom within this concept of an American women's poetic tradition. Shirley Marchalonis's extensive biography of Lucy Larcom ( Worlds 1989) considers not only the poet in a literary tradition but the significance of her life within the context of nineteenth- century American culture and history. Although Lucy Larcom's writing and literary career provide a nexus for the critical analysis of gender, class, and race, few scholars offer sustained consideration of Larcom's literary production.
Addison, Daniel Dulany. Lucy Larcom: Life, Letters, and Diary. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1894.
Larcom, Lucy. An Idyl of Work. Boston: Osgood, 1875.
The following is only a partial listing. For a more complete bibliography of Lucy Larcom, including the location of archival collections, see Shirley Marchalonis The Worlds of Lucy Larcom, 1824-1893 ( 1989).