A life of Longfellow
has been from the beginning included in the plan of the ‘American Men of Letters’ series, but it has been delayed through a variety of causes.
Like all memoirs of this poet, it must rest partly on the material amply furnished by the ‘Life’ so admirably prepared by his brother sixteen years ago, yet it may be well to explain that the present volume will be found marked by three especial characteristics of its own. First, much additional material is here drawn from the manuscript correspondence of the first Mrs. Longfellow
, received from her family and bearing upon the poet's early married years and first visit to Europe, during what was undoubtedly the formative period of his life.
Secondly, there is a good deal of material obtained from the manuscript volumes known as the ‘Harvard College Papers’ and preserved at the University
Library, elucidating the academical side of Longfellow
Thirdly, there is a series of extracts from his earlier writings, dating from college days and not hitherto brought together, but showing the origin and growth of his lifelong desire to employ American material and to help the creation of a native literature; the desire which had its final fulfilment in ‘Evangeline’ and ‘Hiawatha.’
These three sources will be found, if the author is not mistaken, to have afforded distinct contributions to our previous knowledge as to Longfellow
's character and work.
T. W. H.