Fireside Poets
The Fireside Poets were a group of 19th-century American poets from New England
New England
New England is a region in the northeastern corner of the United States consisting of the six states of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut...



The group is typically thought to comprise Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was an American poet and educator whose works include "Paul Revere's Ride", The Song of Hiawatha, and Evangeline...

, William Cullen Bryant
William Cullen Bryant
William Cullen Bryant was an American romantic poet, journalist, and long-time editor of the New York Evening Post.-Youth and education:...

, John Greenleaf Whittier
John Greenleaf Whittier
John Greenleaf Whittier was an influential American Quaker poet and ardent advocate of the abolition of slavery in the United States. He is usually listed as one of the Fireside Poets...

, James Russell Lowell
James Russell Lowell
James Russell Lowell was an American Romantic poet, critic, editor, and diplomat. He is associated with the Fireside Poets, a group of New England writers who were among the first American poets who rivaled the popularity of British poets...

, and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. was an American physician, professor, lecturer, and author. Regarded by his peers as one of the best writers of the 19th century, he is considered a member of the Fireside Poets. His most famous prose works are the "Breakfast-Table" series, which began with The Autocrat...

, who were the first American poets whose popularity rivaled that of British poets
British poetry
British poetry is a term rarely used, as almost all poets of the British world are clearly identified with one of the various nations within those areas....

, both at home and abroad, nearly surpassing that of Alfred Lord Tennyson
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson
Alfred Tennyson, 1st Baron Tennyson, FRS was Poet Laureate of the United Kingdom during much of Queen Victoria's reign and remains one of the most popular poets in the English language....

. The name "Fireside Poets" is derived from that popularity: The Fireside Poets' general adherence to poetic convention—standard forms, regular meter
Meter (poetry)
In poetry, metre is the basic rhythmic structure of a verse or lines in verse. Many traditional verse forms prescribe a specific verse metre, or a certain set of metres alternating in a particular order. The study of metres and forms of versification is known as prosody...

, and rhyme
A rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds in two or more words and is most often used in poetry and songs. The word "rhyme" may also refer to a short poem, such as a rhyming couplet or other brief rhyming poem such as nursery rhymes.-Etymology:...

d stanza
In poetry, a stanza is a unit within a larger poem. In modern poetry, the term is often equivalent with strophe; in popular vocal music, a stanza is typically referred to as a "verse"...

s—made their body of work particularly suitable for memorization
Memorization is the process of committing something to memory. The act of memorization is often a deliberate mental process undertaken in order to store in memory for later recall items such as experiences, names, appointments, addresses, telephone numbers, lists, stories, poems, pictures, maps,...

 and recitation
A recitation is a presentation made by a student to demonstrate knowledge of a subject or to provide instruction to others. In some academic institutions the term is used for a presentation by a teaching assistant or instructor, under the guidance of a senior faculty member, that supplements...

 in school and also at home, where it was a source of entertainment for families gathered around the fire. The poets' primary subjects were the domestic life, mythology, and politics of America, in which several of the poets were directly involved. The Fireside Poets did not write for the sake of other poets; they wrote for the common people. They meant to have their stories told for families.

Most of the Fireside Poets lived long lives. A culminating event was the 70th birthday party of Whittier in 1877. Organized by publisher Henry Oscar Houghton
Henry Oscar Houghton
Henry Oscar Houghton was an American publisher, co-founder of Houghton Mifflin, and a mayor of Cambridge, Massachusetts.-Biography:...

, then editor of the Atlantic Monthly, the event meant to serve as a symbol for the magazine's association with the poets, most of whom were present for the celebration. Lowell had recently moved to Spain. Mark Twain
Mark Twain
Samuel Langhorne Clemens , better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist...

 gave a now infamous after-dinner speech in which he satirized
Satire is primarily a literary genre or form, although in practice it can also be found in the graphic and performing arts. In satire, vices, follies, abuses, and shortcomings are held up to ridicule, ideally with the intent of shaming individuals, and society itself, into improvement...

 the poets as uncouth drunkards.

Longfellow, Lowell, and Holmes are featured in the bestselling novel The Dante Club
The Dante Club
The Dante Club is a mystery novel by Matthew Pearl and his debut work. Set amidst a series of murders in the American Civil War era, it also concerns a club of poets, including such historical figures as Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., and James Russell Lowell, who are...

by Matthew Pearl
Matthew Pearl
Matthew Pearl is an American novelist and educator. His novels include The Dante Club, The Poe Shadow and The Last Dickens and have been published in more than 40 countries.-Biography:...

, published 2003.

External links

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