Inspiring Purpose

Henry Longfellow

Born in Portland, Maine, he graduated at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine, where one of his classmates was Nathaniel Hawthorne. He spent three years in Europe (1826-29) before becoming Professor of Foreign Languages at Bowdoin (1829-35). After another visit to Europe, when he met Thomas Carlyle, he became Professor of Modern Languages and Literature at Harvard (1836-54).

He visited Europe again in 1842 and 1868. Voices of the Night (1839), his first book of verse, made a favourable impression, as did Ballads (1841), which included 'The Wreck of the Hesperus' and 'The Village Blacksmith'. His most popular works are Evangeline (1847), a tale (in hexameters) of the French exiles of Acadia, and The Song of Hiawatha (1855), which is based on the legends of Native Americans, using a metre borrowed from the Finnish epic, the Kalevala. His gift of simple, romantic story-telling in verse brought him enduring popularity as a poet.

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