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Passions in PoetryHenry Wadsworth Longfellow
1807 - 1882

Longfellow as educated at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, where he was a classmate of Hawthorne. Soon after graduation he was offered a professorship of modern languages there, and spent 1826-9 studying in Europe in preparation for this post.

After a successful stint as lecturer during which he wrote his first prose work, Outre-Mer he travelled again to Europe in 1835, this time to prepare for the post of Professor at Harvard which he took up in 1839. Longfellow's first wife died on this trip but he married again in 1843 and shortly afterwards wrote his only drama, The Spanish Student. The following years were extremely productive. Many of his works were based on American folk-themes; Hiawatha, for example, traces the story of an American Indian from birth to immortality. Others of his works centre on fairly conventional and even sentimental themes, such as Paul Revere's midnight ride or the village smithy and the influence of German romanticism, of which Longfellow was a great admirer, can be seen in his poetry. A few of his works have semi-autobiographical themes, notably Hyperion and Kavanagh. Longfellow resigned his post at Harvard in 1854 and led a peaceful life which was bitterly shattered by the death of his second wife in a domestic fire in 1861. This seems to have affected his creativity and he wrote little for some years (Tales of a Wayside Inn was largely completed by 1861). Longfellow became revered by the general public in the remaining years of his
life, and continued to write up until his death, receiving many honours.

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