From Portland to Cambridge

J.W. Black, photographer. Fanny Appleton Longfellow. Carte-de-visite, undated.


*2001M-8, box 2. Purchased with the Bayard Livingston and Kate Gray Kilgour fund, 2001. Houghton Library.

The book Fanny Longfellow holds in her hand in this widely circulated image is not a prop. As well read as her husband, Fanny was his intellectual equal. Her letters and journals show that she was a gifted writer, with a penchant for pithy metaphors and humorous descriptions. She remains somewhat inscrutable even today, a quality that she admits she cultivated. On 28 December 1855, she wrote in her journal that, growing older, she was coming to enjoy "more and more my shell," and she compared herself to one of the turtles she had found in Louis Agassiz's "wonderful" new book, Contributions to the Natural History of the United States of America, where their "physiognomies are so accurately painted."