Curiosity and the Hobby Memoir
How many times have you used a local statue as a meeting place or as a reference point when giving directions?
Statues are identifying landmarks and part of the fabric of our cities, towns, and villages. But what do they stand for?
I was curious.
Though I was familiar with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow as a poet, and knew there was a USPS stamp issued in his honor, I admit to not knowing much beyond that.
My curiosity rendered a new hobby researching and recording what I found ... and with each statue, I created a poster and wrote a short essay.
The Longfellow statue sits at the intersection of State and Congress Streets and is positioned facing Longfellow’s boyhood home, mere blocks away.
Here's what I discovered:
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was a linguist, professor, and poet. He corresponded with the likes of Nathaniel Hawthorne, Mark Twain, Harriet Beecher Stow, Oscar Wilde, and Charles Dickens.
Born February 27, 1807, in Portland, Maine, and a graduate of Bowdoin College, Longfellow yearned for a life in literature. Forging an agreement with his alma mater, he set out across the Atlantic to study European language and literature. And though he would return to teach at Bowdoin and then at Harvard College, writing would prove to be his vocation.
Longfellow’s well-known works include Evangeline, "The Wreck of the Hesperus," and "Paul Revere's Ride." He was a best-selling author and enjoyed considerable success with is work.
But he suffered tremendous loss in his personal life.
His first wife and childhood friend, Mary Storer Potter, died following a miscarriage. And his second wife, Fanny Appleton, with whom he had six children, died after setting her dressing gown afire with candle wax. Forever saddened, Longfellow did little writing after Fanny's death.
Sculptor Franklin Simmons's bearded Longfellow sits at the intersection of State and Congress. Like Longfellow, Simmons was born in Maine and became a well-known artist in his day. A second sculpture by Simmons, Our Lady of Victories, stands just a blocks in Monument Square.
Monday is World Tourism Day. If you're curious, or looking for a new adventure, why not start close to home and see what you discover.