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The family of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's ancestry is recorded in his name. The Wadsworth and Longfellow families were representative of New England's modest, old-stock, cultural elite. In the early Republic they became part of the rising middle class. His grandfathers and father were patriots and public servants whose participation in the founding of a new nation imbued the entire family with a conscious sense of history. In religious matters, Henry's parents (his mother in particular) avoided stern sectarianism in favor of more liberal and progressive spiritual ideals. The family read avidly, drew, painted, played music, and wrote voluminously, often with flair and humor. It was in this family that Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was nurtured and educated.

The following three pages explore the lives of some of Longfellow's many family members, starting with his maternal grandparents, Peleg and Elizabeth Wadsworth. Peleg Wadsworth was a Revolutionary War general who settled in Portland, Maine, shortly after the end of the war. Other pages are devoted to Longfellow's parents, Stephen and Zilpah, and to his sister, Anne Longfellow Pierce.

The information on the following pages was drawn largely from Joyce Butler's essay, "Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and His Family" in Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and His Portland Home. For more information on this and other sources, please see the bibliography.

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