James Russell Lowell was an American poet, critic, editor, and diplomat. Lowell had been U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James since 1880 but Grover Cleveland appointed someone else after he became president in March of 1885. Lowell’s term as ambassador officially ended just 6 days after this letter and he...
James Russell Lowell was an American poet, critic, editor, and diplomat. Lowell had been U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James since 1880 but Grover Cleveland appointed someone else after he became president in March of 1885. Lowell’s term as ambassador officially ended just 6 days after this letter and he returned to the U.S. almost immediately. A lawyer by profession, he had gained notoriety in 1848 with the publication of A Fable for Critics, a book-length poem satirizing contemporary critics and poets. The same year, he published The Biglow Papers, which increased his fame. He went on to publish several other poetry collections and essay collections throughout his literary career. Lowell believed that the poet played an important role as a prophet and critic of society. He used poetry for reform, particularly in abolitionism. His poem “The Present Crisis” addressed the national crisis over slavery leading up to the Civil War and has had an impact in the modern civil rights movement.
Autograph Letter Signed, London, May 13, 1885 to British author and editor Henry B. Wheatley. “Many thanks for your kind note & for your patience with me. I have done the best I could after so long an interval & have brought it nearer to what I meant to say, at any rate. I was suffocated by the Rector to tell the truth.” On black bordered stationery as his wife had died several months earlier, with the original envelope addressed in his hand. What the letter concerns and who the “Rector” was and what he did is unknown.
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