Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was one of the best known 19th century American poets, a New Englander who traveled widely in Europe and knew a dozen languages, a Harvard professor, and the country's first professional poet. His fame grew until it took on a life of its own, and he was revered and beloved to a degree few poets have been before or since.
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Ranger Kate discusses Henry Longfellow's rise as America's preeminent 19th century poet, as well as his family life and literary circle.
Henry Longfellow Collections HighlightAmong the multiple inkwells on Henry W. Longfellow’s study desk is the one pictured here. Made of green and white porcelain with floral and gilt decoration, the inkwell features an ingenious adjustable ceramic block that when lowered into the ink reservoir via the brass screw-top mechanism, raises the level of ink in the dipping portion. It also has three small receptacles meant to act as pen or quill holders.
According to Longfellow’s brother and biographer Samuel Longfellow, this inkwell was the poet’s favorite, and the only one on his desk that he actually used, the others being gifts from a friend. Samuel Longfellow wrote of Henry’s inkwell “His own was of French china, with a screw-top for raising or lowering the ink.” The inkwell is visible in several photographs taken of the study table in the 1870s, during Henry’s lifetime. Learn more about it on our Object of the Month page.
Last updated: November 2, 2021