The Life of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Henry's Birthhome
1807- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born to Stephen and Zilpah Longfellow. His parents were living at the home of Stephen's sister at the time. Two months after Henry's birth the family moved to his maternal grandfather's house on Congress Street. Henry was the second of eight children.

1812 -Henry attended Portland Academy with his older brother Stephen. As did many children of the time, Henry studies focused on literature and languages.
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First published poem

1820- At the age of thirteen, Henry's first poem was published in the "Portland Gazette." Only his sister Anne knew
that it was Henry's works.
1821-At only fourteen years old, Henry passed the exam to Maine's first college Bowdoin College in Brunswick. Because he was so young he and Stephen completed their studies at home in Portland.
1822-Henry and Stephen move to Brunswick, Maine and were already considered sophomores.
1825-Henry and Stephen graduated. Henry was still passionate about literature and language. There is rumor that it was his father, a trustee of the college, that secured a professorship at the Bowdoin College for Henry. Henry would need to travel abroad to gain additional knowledge.
1826-Henry began his European adventure. He mastered seven languages, learned classical literature and met with the authors of many countries.
1829- Longfellow began teaching French, Spanish, and Italian at Bowdoin College. He reconnected with a childhood friend, Mary Storer
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Mary Storer Potter
Potter, at a church service. While at Bowdoin Henry wrote critical essays and six foreign language textbooks.
1831-Henry and Mary Storer Potter were married.
1834-Henry was offered a professorship at Harvard. Mary, Henry, and two friends left for Europe so that Henry could hone his skills.
1835- Mary Storer Potter died of complications of a miscarriage in Rotterdam, Netherlands. She was only 22 years old. Her death would later inspire the poems "Footsteps of Angels" and "Mezzo Cammin." Longfellow was distraught over the death and suffering from depression when he met Frances Appleton, daughter of Nathan Appleton, eight months after Mary's death. It would take seven years of persistance before "Fanny" would agree to marry Henry.
1836-Henry returned to Cambridge and began teaching at Harvard. While teaching, he continued to write poems. He taught at Harvard for fifteen years.
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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
1843-Henry and Fanny were married. They spent most of their time in the Craigie House in Cambridge. Fanny's father purchased the home for the Longfellows as a wedding gift. There were six children, adored by Henry; Charles, Ernest, Fanny, Alice, Edith, and Anne Allegra. Baby Fanny died when she was sixteen months old. Longfellow's poems about children and family became symbolic of an ideal family. A comfortable home filled with the love and innocence of children.
1854- Henry was able to resign from Harvard. It was rare, but he was able to provide for his family with the income he made as an author.
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Henry, Fanny, and sons
1861-While using wax to seal an envelope, Fanny's clothes caught on fire. As Henry tried to put out the flames, his hands and face were burned. Fanny died the next day.
1863- Son Charles, runs away to join in the fighting of the Civil War. Henry had to rush to his son's side twice during the war-once for an illness and once for an injury.
1867-Longfellow's translation of "Dante's Divine Comedy" was published. His fame continued to grow. He was considered to be one of America's first celebrities. He received honors from Europe and America. The Queen of England was an admirer of his work. He became friends with the likes of Tennyson, Ruskin, Gladstone, Whitman, and Oscar Wilde.
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"Fanny" Appleton
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Longfellow's Daughters

1877- Longfellow turned seventy and his birthday was a national celebration.


1882-at the age of seventy-seven, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow died surrounded by the family that he loved so dearly.

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Grave of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Note: Timeline created using the Maine Historical Society Website on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow-Link: http://www.hwlongfellow.org/life_overview.shtml