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Celebrity's Picture: Using Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Portraits to Observe Historic Changes

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Print of 1839 portrait of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Item 15910  info
Print of 1839 portrait of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow / NPS, Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site

Longfellow settled into an eighteen-year career as Smith Professor of Modern Languages and Belles Lettres at Harvard in the fall of 1836, with a widely read book of prose, <span class="book_title">Outre-Mer</span> (1831), to his credit and all his books of poetry before him.

<span class="book_title">Voices of the Night</span> (1839) presented his first major collection of poems, half of them written in rooms rented from an eccentric widow, Elizabeth Craigie, at 105 Brattle Street, Cambridge.

He sat that year for a Wilhelm Franquinet drawing and wrote to his father on November 10, 1839, "Franquinet has great skill. He took my face for friendship's sake, in crayon: exceedingly like. He has since used it as a duck-decoy in Boston, and has his hands full so striking do they find my likeness."

The sketch generated numerous reproductions and linked a face to the poetry that cultivated new celebrity, undoubtedly to the surprise of both artist and writer.

(Quote is from archive record 4432, Longfellow National Historic Site/Craigie House)


Item 7 of 35