James Russell Lowell (American 1819-1891)

Lowell was a Romantic poet, critic, editor, and diplomat associated with the “fireside poets,” a group of popular New England writers who wrote conventional poems suitable for families and public recitation. He earned a degree from Harvard Law School and accepted a professorship of languages at Harvard in 1854. Lowell published his first collection of poetry in 1841, believing in poetry’s ability to act as social protest in the movement to abolish slavery. He also attempted to emulate a Yankee accent in the dialogue of his characters, and employed satire that would inspire writers H. L. Mencken and Mark Twain. Lowell believed that the poet was a prophet that linked religion, nature, and social reform, calling for a natural or universal literature instead of a specific style of literature for the new nation of America. He would also later become an ambassador for European nations.