Cover image for Longfellow : a rediscovered life
Longfellow : a rediscovered life
Calhoun, Charles C., 1946-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Beacon Press, [2004]

Physical Description:
xvi, 317 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
PS2281 .C25 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



A study of one of America's greatest poets. The Longfellow of Calhoun's biography emerges as one of America's first powerful culture makers: a poet and teacher who helped define Victorian culture; a major conduit for European culture into America; a catalyst for the Colonial Revival movement in architecture and interior design; and a critic of both puritanism and the American obsession with material success. The volume includes portraits by many of Longfellow's friends and contemporaries, such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Charles Dickens, Nathaniel Hawthorne and Oscar Wilde.

Author Notes

Born in Louisiana, Charles C. Calhoun studied history at the University of Virginia and law at Christ Church, Oxford. He divides his time between Boston and Portland, where he is on the staff of the Maine Humanities Council.

Reviews 2

Booklist Review

In his lifetime, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-82) was the most popular English-language poet. Well into the twentieth century, his lyrics were popular recitation pieces, and his long narratives The Courtship of Miles Standish and Evangeline remained junior-high staples beyond mid-century. But now he needs the recent revival of interest of which Calhoun's wonderfully readable, sympathetic biography is one expression. As Calhoun grants, rehabilitating Longfellow's former literary reputation is almost certainly a lost cause. Yet much else about him merits greater attention. Having repaired to Europe in 1826 to prepare to teach modern languages at fitfully innovative Bowdoin College, his alma mater, Longfellow pioneered comparative literary studies there and later at Harvard. He favored female protagonists of great intelligence and strength of character in his narrative poems, and his biggest success, The Song of Hiawatha, was a milestone in developing interest in Native American culture. Unitarian, antislavery, genuinely interested in and friendly toward other cultures, he lacked bad habits and was a good family man--in short, the very best kind of Victorian liberal. --Ray Olson Copyright 2004 Booklist

Choice Review

Fully acknowledging Longfellow as the icon of Victorian culture in 19th-century America, this book elevates the poet's status as both a multiculturalist and a distinctively American poet. The first Longfellow biography in decades (Newton Arvin wrote Longfellow: His Life and Work in 1963), it is richly sourced in unpublished family letters and Longfellow's journal. Calhoun (Maine Humanities Council) gives new explanations of key biographical facts and surprisingly contemporary readings of old favorites, the latter showing Longfellow to be more environmentally friendly and prefeminist in his values than previously thought. Calhoun also delivers such obiter dicta as "the best first line yet written by an American poet" ("I heard the trailing garments of the night" in "Hymn to Night"), "the worst poem he ever published" ("The Rainy Day"), and "one of the greatest American poems of the century" ("The Jewish Cemetery at Newport"). Longfellow occasionally drifts into the background of this study, in favor of architecture or another family member; still, it is a very enjoyable read. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels. R. E. Gibbons Our Lady of the Lake University

Table of Contents

Introductionp. ix
The Craigie House, January 30, 1882
Chapter 1 The City by the Seap. 5
Chapter 2 A Small College in Mainep. 26
Chapter 3 The Passionate Pilgrimp. 39
Chapter 4 Bungonuck Daysp. 67
Chapter 5 The Journey Northp. 95
An Alpine Interlude
Chapter 6 Castle Craigiep. 124
Chapter 7 The Water Curep. 150
A Wedding in Beacon Street
Chapter 8 A Seaside Idyllp. 167
Chapter 9 Evangelinep. 179
Chapter 10 "Sail On, O Union"p. 194
Chapter 11 Hiawathap. 202
A Lock of Hair
Chapter 12 Charley Goes to Warp. 221
Chapter 13 Morituri Salutamusp. 240
Chapter 14 Aftermathp. 250
Notesp. 263
Selected Bibliographyp. 281
Acknowledgmentsp. 302
Indexp. 306