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Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Born into a prominent family on February 27 1807 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow grew up in the bustling town of Portland Maine His parents Stephen and Zilpah Longfellow provided a strong but refined Puritan background while encouraging Henry to excel in academics Wagenknecht 2 Longfellows education began early when he was enrolled in an old-fashioned dame school at the age of three Wagenknecht 4 His schooling continued in 1815 with his entrance into the Portland Academy At the age of fourteen Longfellow entered Bowdoin College where his academic brilliance earned him a position of fourth in a graduating class of thirty-eight Williams Preface Stephen Longfellow encouraged his son to pursue a stable career in law but Longfellows love of words led him to accept the newly established professorship of modern languages at Bowdoin College Wagenknecht 3 He traveled extensively in France Spain Italy and Germany to refine his language skills in preparation for his six-year long professorship Harvard University offered Longfellow the Smith Professorship of French and Spanish in 1834 and he again traveled to Europe His wife of four years Mary Storer Potter accompanied him on the trip While they were in the Netherlands Mary suffered a miscarriage and died weeks later from the extreme trauma Longfellow spent the winter grieving but met his second wife Fanny Appleton in Switzerland the next spring They were married in the summer of 1843 and Fanny bore nine children before her tragic death on July 9 1861 He grieved tremendously for his wife of eighteen years but took comfort in their children and his memories of their life together Longfellow continued to write poetry and in 1868 he received honorary degrees at Oxford and Cambridge from Queen Victoria His health began to fail in 1881 and he died of peritonitis on March 24 1882 A bust of Longfellow was mounted in the Poets Corner of Westminster Abbey in 1884 as a tribute to the
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