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Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth 1807-1882

Poet; born in Portland, Me., Feb. 27, 1807; was a descendant of William Longfellow, of Newbury, Mass., and on his mother's side of John Alden, a passenger on the Mayflower; and graduated at Bowdoin College in 1825. He studied law a short time, when he received the appointment of Professor of Modern Languages in his alma mater. To better fit himself for the duties, he spent three years and a half in Europe, and assumed his office in 1829. In 1835 he was chosen Professor of Belles-Lettres in Harvard, and again he made a pilgrimage to Europe to make himself familiar with Continental literature. For nearly twenty years he was a professor in Harvard College, retiring from that post in 1854, and pursued the task of literary composition in his fine old mansion at Cambridge, which Washington had used for his headquarters in 1775-76. He first wrote timidly for literary periodicals, and the first seven articles in a collection published in 1857 were written before he was nineteen years of age. Among these is his exquisite Hymn of the Moravian nuns. He also wrote prose essays for the North American review and other periodicals. An analytical list of Mr. Longfellow's works may be found in Allibone's Critical dictionary of English Literature, etc. Some of Mr. Longfellow's later poems are translations from the modern languages of Europe, and these are models. “As a translator,” says a critic, “he has succeeded admirably in preserving the spirit of the originals, and as a [470]

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

poet he appeals to the universal affections of humanity by the thoughts and images derived from original perceptions of nature and life.” As an indication of the popularity of Mr. Longfellow, the sales of his poetical compositions had amounted in 1857 (when he was fifty years of age) to 293,000 copies, and his prose productions to 32,550 copies. Since that time the number has probably been increased to 500,000. The sales in England, where he is as popular as in America have been very large. His translation of Dante, in 3 volumes (1867-70) is regarded by good judges as the best in the English language. He died in Cambridge, March 24, 1882.

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