Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

1807-1882. American poet. Born in Portland, Maine, and educated at Bowdoin College, he became the most popular American poet of his day. After study and travel abroad, he was appointed Smith professor of literature at Harvard University in 1836. His most popular longer works are Evangeline (1847), which aroused national interest for its narrative power; The Song of Hiawatha (1855), based on Indian legends and sometimes regarded as the American epic; and The Courtship of Miles Standish (1858), which popularized the legend of Plymouth Colony. Longfellow also wrote energetic ballads, beautifully reflective lyrics, and many sonnets, some of them among the best written by an American. The tragic death of his second wife Fanny in a fire in 1861 encouraged him to undertake as a source of solace one of his greatest works, a translation of the Divine Comedy. Longfellow's poetry reflects the optimistic sentiment and humanitarianism of the day. He was the first American poet to receive wide recognition abroad. There is a bust of him in Westminster Abbey's Poet's Corner.