From Portland to Cambridge

Portland, Maine, was where Longfellow became a poet, long before he had ever written a line-a tangle of sights and sounds, a misty backdrop to feelings he would be able to articulate fully only much later. His father discouraged him from leading a "literary" life, and Longfellow met him at least half-way when he became a professor of modern languages, first at Bowdoin College and then-until his resignation in 1854-at Harvard University.

Although he returned to Portland for visits, the center of his life became Craigie House, the Georgian mansion in Cambridge where he had first taken lodgings in 1837. He would experience much sadness there (notably the deaths of one of his daughters and his wife). But he loved the large rooms, the lilac bushes, the buttercups in the grass outside, the omnipresent associations with the colonial past, specifically George Washington, who had resided there from 1775 to 1776, as well as the closeness to the cosmopolitan city of Boston, where he would go to the harbor to hear the sailors speak in their native tongues and inhale the scent of exotic teas.

In this section

Photograph Stephen Longfellow. Letter to HWL, 23 January 1814. HWL. Report card from Portland Academy, 1817. Photograph
Photograph HWL. "Manuscript Gleanings," 1846. J.W. Black, photographer. Fanny Appleton Longfellow. Carte-de-visite, undated. Photograph
Photograph HWL. Craigie House. Watercolor and pencil, early 1850s. Locks of hair of Fanny Longfellow and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Photograph
Photograph HWL. Journal entry for July 1861. HWL. "Wine in Cellar," a page from an agenda book kept by Longfellow, 1870. Photograph
Photograph King & Pearson, photographer. The Longfellow Residence. Photograph, 1869. A.E. Alden, photographer. H.W. and Edith Longfellow in front of Craigie House. Stereoscopic photograph, [1878] Photograph

Items Not Pictured In This Exhibit