Campus News

Treasures from the Longfellow Collection Exhibited in Celebration of Poet's Bicentennial

Story posted February 14, 2007

Of Time, Place, and Circumstance, an exhibition celebrating the bicentennial of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's birth, will be on display on the second floor of Hawthorne-Longfellow Library through June.

Through images, manuscripts, books, and artifacts from the College's Henry Wadsworth Longfellow Collection, the exhibit documents Longfellow's own experiences in the places that he inhabited and visited, and relates how those experiences both infused Longfellow's imagination and informed his writing and scholarship.

Sheet music (detail) for "The Village Blacksmith," music by Charles Coote (London: Weekes & Co., n.d.). Longfellow's poems have been published in over 3,000 musical settings and used as the basis for operas, cantatas, and oratorios.

The exhibition features letters written during his student days at Bowdoin (Class of 1825), text books that he wrote as professor of Romance languages, samples of his handwritten lectures and orations, first editions of many of his books, and selections of his poetry translated into other languages.

Among the items on view:

"The Battle of Lovell's Pond," Portland Gazette, Nov. 21, 1820. Longfellow was 13 years old when his first poem, memorializing colonists killed in a well-known 1725 battle with Native Americans near Hiram, Maine, was published. The poem was signed simply "Henry."

Silhouette Book, Class of 1825: Longfellow's "yearbook" picture.

Letter to Elizabeth Longfellow, Oct. 12, 1823. In this letter to his sister, 16-year-old Longfellow describes his dorm room at Bowdoin, and his hectic but contented junior year at the College.

Vignette Authors, ca. 1874. Longfellow, along with Hawthorne, is immortalized in a 19th-century card game.

Letter to Nathaniel Hawthorne, Nov. 29, 1847. Bowdoin classmate, fellow writer, and close friend Hawthorne sent Longfellow enthusiastic praise for the poem Evangeline: "It cannot fail, I think to prove the most triumphant of all your successes." Longfellow thanks Hawthorne for his kind words in this reply.

"Morituri Salutamus," Bowdoin Orient, Vol 5, no. 6, July 14, 1875. For the 50th reunion of the Bowdoin Class of 1825, Longfellow composed this poem in honor of his classmates. Though the first publication of the poem had been initially planned for Harper's, with Longfellow's assistance, the Orient editor secured advance sheets from the publisher, allowing the Orient the honor of the poem's printing.

Among the Longfellow letters on display is this 1882 note to College President Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain.

Longfellow Translations. Translations of Longfellow's works into various languages, including a 1910 Yiddish translation of The Song of Hiawatha.

Of Time, Place, and Circumstance is open from 8:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Monday through Saturday, and from 10 a.m. to 1 a.m. Sunday. The exhibit will remain on view through June 4, 2007.

Related stories:
Longfellow Celebrated Locally, Nationwide
Q&A with Charles Calhoun, author of Longfellow: A Rediscovered Life
Longfellow Plaque Launches Brunswick Literary Arts Walk
Bicentennial Commemorative Broadside by Siri Beckman
USPS Longfellow Commemorative Stamp
National Longfellow Bicentennial
Podcast: "Song of Hiawatha" recited in six languages, including Yiddish and Swedish.

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