Join us just a short distance up the street at Friends of Mount Auburn Cemetery's Story Chapel (580 Mt Auburn Street) at 10:00 a.m. for our traditional celebration of Henry Longfellow's birthday! This year we are excited to welcome Professor Jeffrey Hotz as our featured speaker. Following the talk, there will be birthday cake and refreshments followed, weather permitting, by a trip to Henry's gravesite for a wreath laying!
Jeffrey Hotz is an Associate Professor in the English Department at East Stroudsburg University of Pennsylvania where he has taught since 2007. His main area of specialization is early American literature. He is the author of Divergent Visions, Contested Spaces: The Early United States through the Lens of Travel (Routledge, 2006), a study of real and imagined travels in the Early Republic and the antebellum period. He is currently finishing a book on Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s late career, the period from 1861 until the poet’s death in 1882. In 2015, he was awarded the Diana Korzenik Research Fellowship from the Friends of the Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site to research the letters and journals of Frances Elizabeth Appleton Longfellow, the wife of the poet.
He will present "Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's Spiritual Vision: Faith in a Place of Doubt".
For the celebration of Longfellow's 210th birth, it is worth considering the inner self of an artist who felt and thought deeply. Longfellow experienced profound suffering in his life with the untimely tragic deaths of two wives, Mary Potter Storer in 1835 and Frances (Fanny) Appleton Longfellow in 1861. His infant daughter, Fanny, named after his second wife, died in 1847, before reaching her second birthday. Longfellow nearly lost his oldest son, Charley, during the Civil War. As a poet, intellectual, and private activist, he also knew very well the nation's problems and injustices.
Longfellow's poetry, especially in his late career after Fanny's death in 1861 until his own death in 1882, responds to loss and reversal. His poems posit human frailty and limitation as the foundation for an individual's artistic, spiritual, and social dimensions. Herein, one finds faith in the place of doubt. This lecture will consider Longfellow's writings from his late career and will discuss his relationship with Fanny, whose 200th birthday will be celebrated by the Longfellow House-Washington's Headquarters National Historic Site and the Friends of the Longfellow House in 2017 .