Volumes I and II of this projected multi-volume edition bring together for the first time all the extant letters of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow for the period 1814-1843. Most of the letters, which are of prime importance in America's cultural history, have never before been published. The remainder that have appeared in print frequently did so in emasculated form and in a wide variety of books and journals. In addition to restoring the complete texts of this correspondence, the editor has provided a distinguished general introduction in Volume I and prefatory comments at the head of Parts I-IV of the two volumes. Scrupulous annotations supply relevant identifications of individuals, explain allusions, and present information regarding the addresses of letters, endorsements, postmarks, and the location of manuscripts.
Readers of the letters of this period will follow Longfellow through his career at Bowdoin College, both as an undergraduate and as a professor, on his lengthy sojourns in Europe, and through his first years as Smith Professor of Modern Languages at Harvard. They offer a wealth of material that is available nowhere else on many of the leading issues of his day, on its literary and scholarly scene, and most important, on the development of the poet himself. Longfellow emerges from these pages as far more than the mild and studied figure that tradition has made of him.
Andrew Hilen, editor of this series, has previously published Longfellow and Scandinavia and The Diary of Clara Crowninshield. He is Professor of English at the University of Washington.