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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
6969 The Deacon's Masterpiece Or, The Wonderful "One-Hoss Shay": A Logical Story Comments and analysis of The Deacon's Masterpiece Or, The Wonderful 76 Comments
6895 The Old Man Dreams Comments and analysis of The Old Man Dreams by Oliver Wendell Holmes 3 Comments
6611 Contentment Comments and analysis of Contentment by Oliver Wendell Holmes 5 Comments
6269 The Boys Comments and analysis of The Boys by Oliver Wendell Holmes 2 Comments
5149 The Chambered Nautilus Comments and analysis of The Chambered Nautilus by Oliver Wendell Holmes 2 Comments
4829 The Last Leaf Comments and analysis of The Last Leaf by Oliver Wendell Holmes 1 Comment
4610 Brother Jonathan's Lament Comments and analysis of Brother Jonathan's Lament by Oliver Wendell Holmes 2 Comments
3687 Under the Violets
3619 The Two Streams Comments and analysis of The Two Streams by Oliver Wendell Holmes 1 Comment
3248 The Voiceless Comments and analysis of The Voiceless by Oliver Wendell Holmes 1 Comment
3147 Sun and Shadow
3062 A Familiar Letter
3060 The Flower of Liberty
2591 The Iron Gate
2568 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
2420 Cacoethes Scribendi Comments and analysis of Cacoethes Scribendi by Oliver Wendell Holmes 39 Comments
2404 Daily Trials by a Sensitive Man
2255 Martha Comments and analysis of Martha by Oliver Wendell Holmes 1 Comment
2205 A Farewell to Agassiz
2169 The Silent Melody
2058 Union and Liberty
1850 The Opening of the Piano
1838 My Aviary
1819 Dorothy Q.
1698 The Flaâneur
1694 For the Moore Centennial Celebration Comments and analysis of For the Moore Centennial Celebration by Oliver Wendell Holmes 2 Comments
1598 The Dorchester Giant
1566 The Organ-Blower
1353 Poem (Halleck monument dedication)
266 The Height of the Ridiculous Comments and analysis of The Height of the Ridiculous by Oliver Wendell Holmes 1 Comment
227 A Parody on “A Psalm of Life” Comments and analysis of A Parody on “A Psalm of Life” by Oliver Wendell Holmes 51 Comments
90 Old Ironsides Comments and analysis of Old Ironsides by Oliver Wendell Holmes 6 Comments
87 Bill and Joe
61 The Living Temple
59 Æstivation
48 The September Gale Comments and analysis of The September Gale by Oliver Wendell Holmes 1 Comment


Books by Oliver Wendell Holmes
Holmes Info


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