Longfellow was born in Portland, Maine, then part of Massachusetts, and studied at Bowdoin College. After spending time in Europe he became a professor at Bowdoin and, later, at Harvard College. His first major poetry collections were Voices of the Night (1839) and Ballads and Other Poems (1841). Longfellow retired from teaching in 1854 to focus on his writing, living the remainder of his life in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in a former headquarters of George Washington. His first wife, Mary Potter, died in 1835 after a miscarriage. His second wife, Frances Appleton, died in 1861 after sustaining burns from her dress catching fire. After her death, Longfellow had difficulty writing poetry for a time and focused on his translation. He died in 1882.
Longfellow predominantly wrote lyric poems which are known for their musicality and which often presented stories of mythology and legend. He became the most popular American poet of his day and also had success overseas. He has been criticized, however, for imitating European styles and writing specifically for the masses.
One evening in January 1842, Virginia Clemm Poe showed the first signs of consumption, now known as tuberculosis, while singing and playing the piano. Poe described it as breaking a blood vessel in her throat. She only partially recovered.
Poe began to drink more heavily under the stress of Virginia's illness. He left Graham's and attempted to find a new position, for a time angling for a government post. He returned to New York, where he worked briefly at the Evening Mirror before becoming editor of the Broadway Journal and, later, sole owner. There he alienated himself from other writers by publicly accusing Henry Wadsworth Longfellow of plagiarism, though Longfellow never responded.
Rufus Wilmot Griswold, a known rival of Poe's, claimed that Poe had plagiarized "The Haunted Palace" from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Beleaguered City." Poe denied that charge and suggested that Longfellow had, in fact, plagiarized from him. Nevertheless, "The Haunted Palace" was one of the poems highlighted in Griswold's Poets and Poetry of America, one of the first anthologies of American poetry in 1842. When the poem was reprinted by the New World in 1845, Charles Eames introduced it as exquisite. "We can hardly call to mind in the whole compass of American Poetry, a picture of more intense and glowing Ideality."
On January 29, 1845, Poe's poem "The Raven" appeared in the Evening Mirror and became a popular sensation. Though it made Poe a household name almost instantly, he was paid only $9 for its publication. It was concurrently published in the American Review: A Whig Journal under the pseudonym "Quarles."