Nicholas Basbanes's biography of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807–82) significantly advances our understanding of America's most popular poet and offers readers a much-needed updating of the life of his second wife, Frances (Fanny) Elizabeth Appleton Longfellow (1817–61). The product of more than twelve years of archival research at the Longfellow House, Houghton Library, and other archives, this is the first major biography of Longfellow published since Charles Calhoun's 2004 Longfellow: A Rediscovered Life. Prior to that biography, the most recent biographies on Longfellow were published in the 1960s, when Newton Arvin's Longfellow: His Life and Work (1963), Cecil B Williams's Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1964), and Edward Wagenknecht's Henry Wadsworth Longfellow: Portrait of an American Humanist (1966) appeared. While Calhoun's biography addressed a range of issues of concern to contemporary scholars, including sex and sexuality, Longfellow's attitude toward race, and his cosmopolitanism—issues that had largely been overlooked in previous scholarship—it mostly...

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