HOWELLS, WILLIAM DEAN. Born in Martin's Ferry, Ohio, March 1, 1837;
[died in New York City, May 11, 1920]. Mr. Howells has long been
acknowledged as a master of American fiction and the creator
in America of what may be termed the naturalistic movement in
this art. His early life followed the line of development of
many an ambitious boy. His father was an editor at Hamilton,
Ohio, and it was as a typesetter on his father's paper that Howells
did his first work. After serving a general journalistic apprenticeship,
at the age of twenty-one he became one of the editors of the
Columbus, Ohio, "State Journal." Two years later, with
the Ohio poet John Piatt, he made his first incursion into verse
with "Poems of Two Friends." The diplomatic service
next called him and from 1861 to 1865 he served as United States
Consul to Venice. These delightful years, whose record is preserved
in "Venetian Days" and "Italian Journeys,"
were sources of enrichment for Mr. Howells' future work. After
returning to America he became editor of the "Atlantic Monthly,"
a position which he filled for ten years. In poetry Mr. Howells
has published little, but in fiction he has been a voluminous
writer and several of his novels, such as "The Rise of Silas
Lapham," "Annie Kilburn," and "A Hazard of
New Fortunes," have become classics.
This biographical note is reprinted
from The Little Book of American Poets: 1787-1900. Ed.
Jessie B. Rittenhouse. Cambridge: Riverside Press, 1915.