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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Biography | Poet

Photo of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was one of the greatest poets in American history. He was alive during the 19th century and his work inspired a generation of people in America and abroad. Wadsworth was born in Portland, Maine on February 7, 1807. His father was named Stephen Longfellow and his mother was named Zilpah Longfellow. He died on March 24, 1882 at the age of 75.

During his lifetime he translated Dante Alighieri's the Divine Comedy and he wrote some highly influential poetry books such as Paul Revere's Ride and the Song of Hiawatha. Longfellow's poems were mostly inspired by mythology and legend. These two theme dominated his works. His poems were also well received because they had a musical quality. His poetry was an American staple that appealed to the masses.

Longfellow's poetic works were so popular and compelling during his day that they influenced American and European culture. People did not have TVs or radios in 19th century. One way that they kept each other entertained was by reciting poetry around campfires. Longfellow's poems were often used by the average American and Englishman in this way. Since it was, this helped him to earn the reputation of being a fireside poet.

Major Achievements

Longfellow wrote his first poetry book in 1939 and it was called Voices of the Night. He wrote Ballads and Other Poems in 1841. His first two books were commercial successes because he managed to connect with the American people. Both of these books showed how the average person overcame adversity. His books were important to American people in those days because the nation was still being formed.

His next great work was presented in 1847 and it was titled Evangeline. This particular book of poetry was a love story about two people who were separated for many years due to a war before finding each other again. Many people in England and in the States enjoyed this book as well.

In 1854 Longfellow stopped teaching and dedicated himself to writing poetry. After making this decision he published Hiawatha and the Courtship of Miles Standish and Other Poems. These two books were also best sellers with the public. Longfellow was now a certified poetry star and author. Around this time the Civil War was looming over the nation. This coming event had influenced Longfellow to release Paul Revere's Ride. This poetry book encouraged people to be strong so that they would be able to endure what was about to happen.

After the death of wife in 1863, Longfellow translated Dante's Divine Comedy and he produced Tales of a Wayside Inn in the same year. He was the first person to translate Dante's Divine Comedy for American audiences and it was one of his most important work. By this time, Longfellow was a huge commercial success. Longfellow was so popular during his day that by the time he reached his 75th birthday in 1882, the whole entire country had a huge birthday celebration for him.

Education and Work History

Longfellow spent a great deal of his life teaching inside of educational institutions. He attended a school called Portland Academy at a very young age. He later went to Bowdoin College in Maine and even taught oversees in England. After he completed his assignments in England he went back to America and taught at Harvard. Longfellow had also translated many works during his time as a professor and most of his life was centered on teaching, learning, translating books and writing poetry.

The Significance of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The poetry of Longfellow was so outstanding that great figures such as Abraham Lincoln and Charles Dickens were admires of his work. If Longfellow's works were released today he would literally be considered a highly rated book seller or a top entertainer. The fact is that his poems had connected with the average person and captured the spirit and essence of his era. Millions of people all over America and in Europe found his work to be idea inspiration, dramatic and even fun. In a time when books, stories and the spoken word were all that people had to entertain themselves; Longfellow's poetry was influential because it spoke directly to the life that people experienced in 19th century America. 

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