James Russell Lowell

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Biographical note

Lowell, James Russell (1819–1891). — Poet and essayist, born at Cambridge, Massachusetts, son of a Unitarian minister, was ed. at Harvard. He began active life as a lawyer, but soon abandoned business, and devoted himself mainly to literature. In 1841 he published a vol. of poems, A Year’s Life, and in 1843 a second book of verses appeared. He also wrote at this time political articles in the Atlantic and North American Review. In 1848 he published a third vol. of Poems, A Fable for Critics, The Biglow Papers, and The Vision of Sir Launfal; and he was in 1855 appointed Professor of Modern Languages at Harvard in succession to Longfellow. Among my Books appeared in 2 series, in 1870 and 1876. His later poems included various Odes in celebration of national events, some of which were collected in Under the Willows, The Cathedral, and Heartsease and Rue. In 1877 he was appointed United States minister to Spain, and he held a similar appointment in England 1880–85. He died at Elmwood, the house in which he was born L. was a man of singularly varied gifts, wit, humour, scholarship, and considerable poetic power, and he is the greatest critic America has yet produced. He was a strong advocate of the abolition of slavery.

[From A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature by John W. Cousin, 1910]

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