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Biography of Oliver Wendell Holmes

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Oliver Wendell Holmes (1809 - 1894)

Oliver Wendell Holmes the elder, (August 29, 1809 – October 8, 1894) was a physician by profession but achieved fame as a writer; he was one of the best regarded American poets of the 19th century.

He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of a minister. He was educated at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and at Harvard University. He first attained national prominence with his poem "Old Ironsides" about the 18th century battleship USS Constitution, which was to be broken up for scrap; the poem generated public sentiment that resulted in the historic ship being preserved as a monument.

He went to Paris for three years to study medicine, then returned to get his doctorate at Harvard in 1836, the same year the first book of his verse was published. He then became a professor of anatomy and physiology at Dartmouth College.

He was a contributor of essays and poems to the Atlantic Monthly from its inception, and also published novels. His son was Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

In 1846, in a letter to William T. G. Morton, the dentist who was the first practicioner to publicly demonstrate the use of ether during surgery, Holmes coined the word anæsthesia.

Holmes died in Boston, Massachusetts in 1894, and is buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery, Cambridge, Massachusetts.


Biography by: This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License and uses material adapted in whole or in part from the Wikipedia article on Oliver Wendell Holmes.


36 Poems written by Oliver Wendell Holmes

The poems are by default sorted according to volume, but you can also choose to sort them alphabetically or by page views.

Volume | Alphabetically | [Page Views] | Comments | First Lines


Page ViewsPoemComments
7835 The Deacon's Masterpiece Or, The Wonderful "One-Hoss Shay": A Logical Story Comments and analysis of The Deacon's Masterpiece Or, The Wonderful 89 Comments
7565 Contentment Comments and analysis of Contentment by Oliver Wendell Holmes 21 Comments
7557 The Old Man Dreams Comments and analysis of The Old Man Dreams by Oliver Wendell Holmes 3 Comments
7171 The Boys Comments and analysis of The Boys by Oliver Wendell Holmes 2 Comments
5793 The Chambered Nautilus Comments and analysis of The Chambered Nautilus by Oliver Wendell Holmes 2 Comments
5386 The Last Leaf Comments and analysis of The Last Leaf by Oliver Wendell Holmes 1 Comment
5051 Brother Jonathan's Lament Comments and analysis of Brother Jonathan's Lament by Oliver Wendell Holmes 2 Comments
4275 The Two Streams Comments and analysis of The Two Streams by Oliver Wendell Holmes 1 Comment
4133 Under the Violets
4033 The Voiceless Comments and analysis of The Voiceless by Oliver Wendell Holmes 1 Comment
3614 A Familiar Letter
3166 Cacoethes Scribendi Comments and analysis of Cacoethes Scribendi by Oliver Wendell Holmes 50 Comments
3055 The Deacon's Masterpiece Or, The Wonderful "One-Hoss Shay": A Logical Story Comments and analysis of The Deacon's Masterpiece Or, The Wonderful 1 Comment
2748 Martha Comments and analysis of Martha by Oliver Wendell Holmes 1 Comment
2559 The Silent Melody
2419 Union and Liberty
2399 My Aviary
2347 Dorothy Q.
2133 For the Moore Centennial Celebration Comments and analysis of For the Moore Centennial Celebration by Oliver Wendell Holmes 3 Comments
2123 The Flaâneur
2059 The Organ-Blower
1796 Poem (Halleck monument dedication)
1175 A Parody on “A Psalm of Life” Comments and analysis of A Parody on “A Psalm of Life” by Oliver Wendell Holmes 59 Comments
1172 The Height of the Ridiculous Comments and analysis of The Height of the Ridiculous by Oliver Wendell Holmes 1 Comment
560 The Living Temple
504 The September Gale Comments and analysis of The September Gale by Oliver Wendell Holmes 1 Comment
454 Daily Trials by a Sensitive Man
423 Æstivation
414 Old Ironsides Comments and analysis of Old Ironsides by Oliver Wendell Holmes 6 Comments
345 A Farewell to Agassiz
314 The Opening of the Piano
101 Sun and Shadow Comments and analysis of Sun and Shadow by Oliver Wendell Holmes 1 Comment
80 Bill and Joe
71 The Iron Gate
26 The Dorchester Giant
19 The Flower of Liberty


Books by Oliver Wendell Holmes
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