One of America's greatest poets was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He was born to a prominent, well-educated family in Portland, Maine (then a part of Massachusetts) in 1807. At the age of 15, he began studying at Bowdoin College (which had been founded by his grandfather). He graduated in two-and-a-half years, after which he toured Europe for three years—learning French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese and German in the process. While in Madrid, Longfellow befriended fellow writer Washington Irving who encouraged the young poet to continue his pursuit of writing. After returning to the United States, Longfellow began teaching at Bowdoin and, later, at Harvard.
Longfellow's first wife, Mary Storer Potter, was a childhood friend from Portland. While on a trip together to Europe, she suffered a miscarriage at six months of pregnancy, and died some weeks later. The devastated poet sent her body back for burial at the Mount Auburn Cemetery just outside of Boston.
The poet's second wife, Frances Appleton, was independent-minded and held-out for seven years before finally consenting to marry him. They had six children together. One afternoon, while organizing the locks of her children's hair in an envelope, her dress caught fire. Her napping husband woke-up and attempted to put-out the fire with a small rug. When this method proved unsuccessful, he laid himself over her flaming body, attempting to smother the flames. The tactic worked but left Longfellow with severe burns over his body and face. Frances died the next morning. Longfellow was so badly injured, he could not attend his wife's funeral. And his face was so badly scarred that he grew his "trademark" beard to cover his injuries.
Longfellow's most famous works include Paul Revere's Ride, The Song of Hiawatha, and Evangeline. He is also the first American to have translated Dante Alighieri's Divine Comedy. He died in 1882 and is buried at Mount Auburn Cemetery with his two wives and all six of his children (four in the family plot and two daughters with their husbands' families).
These bronze bookends are beautifully sculpted in bas relief. Please click on the photo above to learn more about them.
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