From Portland to Cambridge

Locks of hair of Fanny Longfellow and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.


Longfellow Papers MS Am 1340 (51). Houghton Library.

On 9 July 1861, Fanny Longfellow's dress caught on fire, and she died the next day. Overwhelmed with grief, Longfellow, who was himself injured in an effort to save her, feared he was losing his mind. The day she died, a lock of Fanny's hair was cut off and preserved; Longfellow later saved the sad memento in an envelope and, in understandable distress, wrote the wrong year on the envelope (1862). The actual wrapping, however, dates the curl as having been obtained on 10 July 1861.