Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, daguerreotype by Southworth & Hawes (around 1850)Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Signature.svg
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in later years
Longfellow Memorial in Portland

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (born February 27, 1807 in Portland , Massachusetts , now Maine ; died March 24, 1882 in Cambridge , Massachusetts) was an American writer , poet , translator, and playwright .

Life and effect

Longfellow's mother came from an old New England Puritan family , his grandfather Peleg Wadsworth was a general in the Revolutionary War and later became a member of the US House of Representatives, as did his father Stephen Longfellow . Born in what is now Maine , Longfellow grew up well protected and studied at Bowdoin College in Brunswick , where he became friends with Nathaniel Hawthorne . Between 1825 and 1829 and from 1831 to 1835 he toured Europe, learned among other things German, Dutch, Swedish and Finnish, read a lot and was so deeply influenced by German Romanticism and Goethe . On his return he taught at Harvard University . After his first wife Mary Storer Potter died in 1835 after only four years of marriage, Longfellow married Frances Elizabeth "Fanny" Appleton, a daughter of Nathan Appleton , with whom he had six children: Charles Appleton (1844-1893), Ernest , in 1843 Wadsworth (1845–1921), Fanny (1847–1848), Alice Mary (1850–1928), Edith (1853–1915) and Anne Allegra (1855–1934). In 1844 Longfellow was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences .

Longfellow was a folk poet. His rhymes were catchy. He was one of the first to deal with typical American topics: patriotism, love of the landscape, nature and the traditions of his homeland. He wrote numerous dramas and a few novels, all of which have more or less been forgotten. The epic poems Evangeline (1847) and The Song of Hiawatha (1855), which he modeled on the Finnish national epic Kalevala , are of lasting importance . It describes the life of the Ojibwa chief Hiawatha and ends with his recommendation to his people to bow to the 'white man'. The work inspired Antonín Dvořák for the 2nd movement of his 9th symphony "From the New World" .

Because his work appeared too conventional - and thus too European - it was deleted from the canon of American literature after 1900, particularly due to the judgment of George Santayana and Vernon Louis Parrington . However, until not so long ago, many American students memorized his poem Paul Revere's Ride , which glorifies an episode from the American Revolutionary War . The song I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day , based on Longfellow's poem Christmas Bells , is still a popular Christmas carol today.

A 2007 United States Postal Service stamp shows the portrait of Longfellow and in the background on the right a depiction of the horseman Paul Revere.


Longfellow's bust stands in Poet's Corner at Westminster Abbey in London , a memorial was inaugurated in his hometown of Portland in 1888. In 1959 a mountain range in the state of Maine was named after him: the Longfellow Mountains . In addition, the Longfellow Bridge in his hometown of Cambridge was named after him. Longfellow lived from 1837 until his death in a traditional house that served George Washington as the headquarters of the Continental Army during the American Revolutionary War. The house in which Longfellow created most of his work remained in family ownership and was designated in 1966 as Longfellow House - Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site . It became the property of the federal government in 1972 and is today a national memorial for the life and work of Longfellow and the siege of Boston in the Revolutionary War of 1775/76. It contains, among other things, Longfellow's library, which has been preserved in full, but his documents are in the archives of Harvard University.

The title of the song Longfellow Serenade (1974) by singer Neil Diamond is a reference to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.


  • The Song of Hiawatha
  • Evangeline: A Tale of Acadie
    • Übers. Eduard Nickles: Evangeline: A story from Acadien . Property of the translator (= self-published), Karlsruhe 1862
    • Übers. Johannes Friedemann: Evangeline: A love song from Acadia . Gudrun-Verlag, Berlin 1920
    • Translated by August Vezin : Evangeline . Meister Verlag, Heidelberg 1947
  • Kavanagh
    • Übers. Jörg Hildebrandt : A parish like Fairmeadow: small town details about all kinds of big people and a carrier pigeon . Evangelical Publishing House, Berlin 1972
  • The Early Poems . University Press of the Pacific 2003 ISBN 978-1-4102-0848-4
  • A Selection of Poems . Rhombus Edition, London 1920
    • German: Selected poems . Reclam, Leipzig 1925
  • Tales of a Wayside Inn
  • The Sonnets of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • Poems by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
  • To be a brother to everyone . Amadeus-Verlag, Vienna 1959
  • Nuremberg: A Poem . Schrag, Nuremberg 1887
    • German: Nuremberg: A seal . E. Frommann, Nuremberg 1928
  • The golden legend . Leipzig 1916
    • Translator P. Kaegler: The golden legend . Hendel, Halle 1887
  • The Masque of Pandora and other poems . Leipzig 1875
  • Flower-de-Luce and Three books of song . Tauchnitz, Leipzig 1873
  • The Divine Tragedy . Tauchnitz, Leipzig 1872
  • The New England Tragedies . Tauchnitz, Leipzig 1868

Secondary literature

  • Daniel Aaron : The Legacy of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow . In: Maine Historical Society Quarterly 27: 4, 1988, pp. 42-66.
  • Newton Arvin : Longfellow: His Life and Work . Little, Brown, Boston 1963.
  • Charles C. Calhoun: Longfellow: A Rediscovered Life . Beacon Press, Boston 2005.
  • Helga Essmann: "Literary 'Universality": Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and American National Literature . In: Armin Paul Frank and Helga Essmann (eds.): The Internationality of National Literatures in Either America: Transfer and Transformation . Volume I / 1. Wallstein, Göttingen 1999, pp. 85-106.
  • Robert L. Gale: A Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Companion . Greenwood Press, Westport CT 2003.
  • Matthew Gartner: Becoming Longfellow: Work, Manhood, and Poetry . In: American Literature 72: 1, 2000, pp. 59-86.
  • Dana Gioia: Longfellow in the Aftermath of Modernism . In: Jay Parini (Ed.): The Columbia History of American Poetry . Columbia University Press, New York 1993, pp. 64-96.
  • Eric L. Haralson: Mars in Petticoats: Longfellow and Sentimental Masculinity . In: Nineteenth-Century Literature 51: 3, 1996, pp. 327-355.
  • Thomas Wentworth Higginson : Henry Wadsworth Longfellow . Houghton Mifflin, Boston 1902.
  • Andrew Hilen: Longfellow and Scandinavia: A Study of the Poet's Relationship with the Northern Languages ​​and Literature . Yale University Press, New Haven 1947.
  • Edward L. Hirsh: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow . University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis 1964 (= University of Minnesota Pamphlets on American Writers 35).
  • Christoph Irmscher: Longfellow Redux . University of Illinois Press, Urbana 2006.
  • Christoph Irmscher: Public Poet, Private Man: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow at 200 . University of Massachusetts Press, Amherst 2009.
  • Christoph Irmscher and Robert Arbor (eds.): Reconsidering Longfellow . Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, Lanham MD 2014.
  • Edward Wagenknecht: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: His Poetry and Prose . Ungar, New York 1986.

Web links

Commons : Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  - Collection of Images, Videos and Audio Files
Wikisource: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow  - Sources and full texts

Individual evidence

  1. So it is z. B. included on the compilation 50 Most Loved Christmas Carols from 2005, cf. 50 Most Loved Christmas Carols. On allmusic.com .
  2. Lemma in the en: wp