Longfellow's Readers

Longfellow's popularity-and therefore also his correspondence-exceeded that of any serious American poet before or after him. Countless visitors-poets from Vermont and Germany, Cuban abolitionists, a Polish Count, Italian beggars, a lady in black who thought he had already died but wanted to see his residence-came to Craigie House to get a glimpse of the "poet of the Heart."

A few of them were celebrity-seekers who were only dimly aware of Longfellow's specific reputation; others wanted money. But even harder to cope with were the people who sent letters to Longfellow, asking questions about his works, requesting autographs, telling them about their own lives, and sending him their own poems for critique and approval. It is estimated that, between 1821 and 1882, Longfellow received around 20,000 letters. The very last entry in his journal, written on 31 January 1882, concerned a request he had received that very morning, via postal card, from a "gentleman in Falls City, Nebraska." He wasn't pleased with Milton's Paradise Regained and wanted Longfellow to write a new, more up-to-date ending.

In this section

Photograph Envelope addressed "To the right honourable Mr. Henry Wadsworth Longfellow celebrated Poet. in America near Boston, on Washington's former country-seat via Bremen," from a scrapbook, 1842. Frances Kemble. Letter to HWL, 16 June 1851. Photograph
Photograph Laura Bridgman.  Letter to HWL, 8 February 1852. Laura Bridgman. Carte-de-visite, undated. Photograph
Photograph Syud Hossein. Letter to HWL, 10 April 1862. Hans Christian Andersen. Letter to HWL, 24 March 1868. Photograph
Photograph Berta E. Shaffer. Letter to HWL, 21 June 1880. The Longfellow Birth-day Book (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1881). Photograph
Photograph Miniature moccasins made by a Dakota woman named "White Dog."