William Dean Howells

(1837-1920 / United States)

William Dean Howells
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Born in Martins Ferry, Ohio, originally Martinsville, to William Cooper and Mary Dean Howells, Howells was the second of eight children. His father was a newspaper editor and printer, and moved frequently around Ohio. Howells began to help his father with typesetting and printing work at an early age. During 1852, his father arranged to have one of Howells' poems published in the Ohio State Journal without telling him.

During 1856, Howells was elected as a Clerk in the State House of Representatives. During 1858, he began to work at the Ohio State Journal where he wrote poetry, short stories, and also translated pieces from French, Spanish, and German. He avidly studied German and... more »

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Quotations

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  • ''The mortality of all inanimate things is terrible to me, but that of books most of all.''
    William Dean Howells (1837-1920), U.S. novelist, critic. Letter, April 6, 1903, to editor Charles Eliot Norton.
  • ''Some people can stay longer in an hour than others can in a week.''
    William Dean Howells (1837-1920), U.S. novelist, critic. Attributed.
  • ''In Europe life is histrionic and dramatized, and ... in America, except when it is trying to be European, it is direct and sincere.''
    William Dean Howells (1837-1920), U.S. novelist, critic. "Their Silver Wedding Journey," Harper's (New York, September 1899).
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Famous Poets
Best Poem of William Dean Howells

The Bewildered Guest

I WAS not asked if I should like to come.
I have not seen my host here since I came,
Or had a word of welcome in his name.
Some say that we shall never see him, and some
That we shall see him elsewhere, and then know
Why we were bid. How long I am to stay
I have not the least notion. None, they say,
Was ever told when he should come or go.
But every now and then there bursts upon
The song and mirth a lamentable noise,
A sound of shrieks and sobs, that strikes our joys
Dumb in our breasts; and then, some one is gone.
They say we meet him. None ...

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