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Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography/Stoddard, Richard Henry

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STODDARD, Richard Henry, poet, b. in Hingham, Mass., 2 July, 1825. His father, a sea-captain, was wrecked and lost on one of his voyages while Richard was a child, and the lad went in 1835 to New York with his mother, who had married again. He attended the public schools of that city, but worked for several years in an iron-foundry, at the same time reading the best authors, particularly poetry. His talents brought him into relations with young men interested in literature, notably with Bayard Taylor, who had just published his “Views Afoot.” Stoddard had written verses from his early years, and in 1840 printed privately a collection in a small volume called “Footprints,” the edition of which he afterward destroyed. In 1852 he published a riper volume of poems, became a contributor to the “Knickerbocker,” and entered upon literary work. Writing as a means of subsistence became such a burden that, through Nathaniel Hawthorne, he obtained a place in the custom-house, and retained it from 1853 till 1870. He was confidential clerk to Gen. George B. McClellan in the dock department in 1870-'3, and city librarian in New York for about a year. He was literary reviewer on the New York “World” from 1860 till 1870, and has held the same office on the “Mail” and “Mail and Express” since 1880. He also edited for some time “The Aldine,” an illustrated periodical, which was discontinued. His mind and tastes are poetical, but he has done a good deal of booksellers' work from the urgency of circumstances. In 1853 he published “Adventures in Fairy Land” for young folks, and in 1857 “Songs of Summer.” abounding in luxuriant imagination and tropical feeling. Among his other works are “Town and Country,” for children (New York, 1857); “Life, Travels, and Books of Alexander von Humboldt,” with an introduction by Bayard Taylor (Boston, 1860; London, 1862); “The King's Bell,” a poem (Boston, 1862; London, 1864; New York, 1865); “The Story of Little Red Riding Hood,” in verse (New York, 1804); “The Children in the Wood,” in verse (1865); “Abraham Lincoln, a Horatian Ode” (1865); “Putnam, the Brave” (1869); and “The Book of the East,” containing his later poems (1867). He has edited “The Last Political Writings of Gen. Nathaniel Lyon” (1861); “The Loves and Heroines of the Poets” (1861); John Guy Vassar's “Twenty-one Years Round the World” (1862); “Melodies and Madrigals, mostly from the Old English Poets” (1865); “The Late English Poets” (1865); enlarged editions of Rufus W. Griswold's “Poets and Poetry of America” (1872); “Female Poets of America” (1874); and the “Bric-à-Brac Series” (1874). He has also edited several annuals, made translations, and written numerous monographs and prefaces, including monographs on Edgar Allan Poe and William Cullen Bryant. — His wife, Elizabeth Barstow, poet, b. in Mattapoisett, Mass., 6 May, 1823, was educated at various boarding-schools. At twenty-eight years of age she married Mr. Stoddard, and soon afterward she began to contribute poems to the magazines. These are more than of the merely agreeable, popular order; they invariably contain a central idea, not always apparent at first, but always poetical, though not understood by the average reader. No collection of her poems, distributed for twenty-five or thirty years through many periodicals, has been made. Years ago she published three remarkable novels. “The Morgesons” (New York, 1862); “Two Men” (1865); and “Temple House” (1867). Owing to various causes, they never sold to any extent, and had long been out of print when a new edition was published in 1888. They illustrate New England character and scenery, and are better adapted to the taste and culture of the present than to the time when they were written. She has also published a story for young folks, “Lolly Dinks's Doings” (New York, 1874).