Born on February 27, 1807, in Portland, Maine, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was raised in a Puritan family with three brothers and four sisters. While growing up he kept a good relationship with his family members. Longfellow spent many years in foreign countries to further his horizons. Longfellow’s solitary life style would not be expected from his extreme success in poetry (Williams, p.26).
Longfellow’s boyhood home was built by his grandfather, Peleg Wadsworth, in 1784-86, and was the first brick house in Portland. As a memorial to the poet, the house is still standing today. Then the house was by the seaside, where Longfellow could hear the rhythmic roar of the ocean. Probably much of his writing for his rhythms in his writing came through his listening to the wind and waves. Longfellow always visited there, especially up to the time of his father’s death in 1849 (Williams, 29).
The life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882) was a mixture of triumph and tragedy, fulfillment and disappointment. His youthful ambitions were all literary, but to please his father he became a teacher. During the eight years he taught language at Bowdoin College and eighteen years at Harvard, he never quit writing. Thirteen of his books were published, including Evangeline (1847), the Poems on Slavery (1842), and The Golden Legend (1851). Longfellow also wrote poems about is family (Evangeline, preface). Longfellow’s six children were born in Craigie House, and he shared his love for them in The Children’s Hour (1860). When his wife, Mary, died, he commemorated her in the sonnet The Cross of Snow (1879) (“Longfellow”, p.730).
In 1855, the year after Longfellow gave up teaching for writing, his friend Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote him, “No other poet has anything like your vogue”(Evangeline, preface). Longfellow was married twice: in 1836, his wife of five years died in childbirth. Seven years later he married Elizabeth Appleton and settled in historic Craigie House, Cambridge.
In a tragic accident she was burned to death in 1861, leaving him with six children to raise. Longfellow overcame his sorrow and continued his work, which was enjoyed throughout America and Europe.
In 1881, the year before his death, his birthday was celebrated in schools all over America. Three years later a bust of Longfellow was unveiled in the Poet’s Corner, Westminster Abbey (Evangeline, preface).
The records of his early education show that Longfellow was a cautious student, but not much more than the other children in New England Puritan families. He is said to have started school when he was three years old, with his brother Stephen, two years older. By...