Ernest Wadsworth Longfellow. Longfellow reading a book. Drawing, pencil on paper, December 1852.


Courtesy National Park Service, Longfellow National Historic Site LONG 19944

Well over 14,000 volumes were collected by Longfellow and members of his family; 4,388 of those are currently exhibited in the rooms of the Longfellow National Historic Site, while many were transferred to Houghton Library.  Longfellow regularly received books from friends or admirers, but the majority of his library reflects his own collecting interests and, above all, his conviction that the American language and American culture can only be grasped in an international, global context.

The approximately 50 languages represented in Longfellow's library include, apart from the usual suspects (French, German, Italian, and Spanish), Armenian, Danish, Celtic, Chinese, Cornish, Dutch, Flemish, Finnish, Greek, Greenlandic Eskimo, Hawaiian, Hindi, Japanese, Latin, Persian, Provençal, Romansch, Russian, and Welsh. The topics and genres of books range from foreign language dictionaries and grammar to poetry anthologies and children's books. Longfellow's Scandinavian collection-unique for its time-boasts over 380 books in Swedish, Danish, and Icelandic.