English Midterm – Author Backgrounds

Anne Bradstreet
(1612-1672)
The first American and the first woman to publish her poems. Wrote “The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America”. Married when she was 16 and had 8 kids. Her poems emphasized the importance of family and Puritan belief to not love material goods. Used inversion and iambic couplets in her poems

William Bradford
(1590-1657)
Grew up in Yorkshire, England. When he was 12 he took part in the Nonconformist meetings. Sept 1620 – went aboard the Mayflower to travel to America. Dec 1620 – arrives at America. His wife goes overboard. Half of the people die because of malnutrition, disease, and the cold. He was elected governor 30 times. His book, “Of Plymouth Plantation” was intended to inspire others to follow Puritan ideals. This was published in 1856 (was lost during Revolutionary War but was found 100 years later). Plain style of writing.

Jonathon Edwards
(1703-1758)
Puritan minister that went to Yale at the age of 13. Experienced grace. Believed God was vengeful and believed in transformation. Used terror and fear in his speeches. Married Sarah Pierrpont because of her devotion to God. He also became president of Princeton University. “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” was his most famous speech.

Nathaniel Hawthorne
(1804-1864)
Born in Salem, Massachusetts. Evil is passed on generation after generation. “12 Dark Years” – learn the craft of writing. His major theme was human isolation. Related to Judge Hathorne. Wrote “The Scarlet Letter”. He was the American Consul to England. Other main subjects in his writing include mysteries of the heart and human evil

William Cullent Bryant
(1794-1878)
Editor of NY Evening Post, spokesperson for the abolition of slavery, unionization, repeal laws that imprisoned debtors. Father of American poetry. Wrote about the connection the imagination makes between natural world and inner emotion. Early Romantic writer. Age 17 – wrote full version of “Thanatopsis”

Washington Irving
(1783-1859)
He mixed realistic detail with elements of the supernatural. Wrote first drafts of stories based on German folktales. He saved the family business and refused to put more energy into it. “Rip van Winkle” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”

James Fenimore Cooper
(1781-1851)
Last of the Mohicans! Wrote about the American frontier and Natty Bumpo (“The Leatherstocking Tales”). Never actually met Indians or the frontier though. Not fully appreciated until after 1920s. Wrote more than 30 novels. Frontier could bring out the worst and/or the opportunity to return to natural, moral law, and to recover natural virtues corrupted by society

Emily Dickinson
(1830-1886)
She was a sad child among the children. Only a handful of her poems were published. 24 – goes with her father to Washington DC and Philadelphia, turning point of her life, a mystery of why this happened. Fell in love with Charles Wadsworth, a married man who was a pastor. She dressed only in white after he leaves her. 1955 – volume of her poetry published w/o the editing

Walt Whitman
(1819-1892)
“Leaves of Grass”. Formal education at 11 years old. 1873 – had stroke and became semi-invalid. His poetry is about being alive and uniting all forms of life. Wrote in free verse. Lincoln was his hero. Also worked as a nurse

Ralph Waldo Emerson
(1803-1882)
Born in Boston to poor family, father died when he was 8. Intellectual accomplishments include: nature is a machine and God is the master mechanic, oversoul, self-basis of morality. Went to Harvard at 14. Was a Unitarian minister at age 25 but resigned after his wife died. Part of the Lyceum Movement. Two famous speeches “The American Scholar” (intellectual indepence) and “The Divinity School Address” (give up religious traditions). Became a guru.

Henry David Thoreau
(1817-1862)
“The end of life is education”. Tested Transcendentalist ideas in experience. Went to Harvard as well. Wanted to know the truth. Huckleberrying – constant questioning. “Walden” is symbolized into four seasons: Summer- live w/ nature, Fall- reflection, Winter- self-discipline and meditation and transforming experience into wisdom, Spring- rebirth. Proved that it was possible to transcend our circumstances and to feel our individual being and spirit.