William Dean Howells was born the second of eight children on March 1, 1837, in Martins Ferry, Ohio. His father was a newspaper editor and printer, and gave young William the job of typesetting and printing. Even though his family wasn’t wealthy, William was encouraged by his parents to follow his literary interests, and when William was just 15 years old, his father had one of his poems published in the Ohio State Journal without telling him. By 1858 W.D. Howells began working at the same newspaper writing poetry, short stories, and also translating pieces from French, Spanish, and German.
In 1860 he visited Boston and met with other American writers James Thomas Fields, James Russell Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. He then visited France, where in 1862 he married Elinor Mead. They returned to America in 1865, settling in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where in lived until his death on May 11, 1920.
Throughout his long life, William Dean Howells wrote for various magazines, including the Atlantic Monthly and Harper’s Magazine. He published many novels, most portraying his own social views, as well as collections of his poems. In time he developed and became well known for his literary style called Realism.
Realism is literature which attempts to represent life as it really is by paying close attention to what might otherwise be considered insignificant details. Howells considered it “nothing more and nothing less than the truthful treatment of material.”
The following poem, “In August,” is a prime example of Howells’ realism style.
All the long August afternoon,
The little drowsy stream
Whispers a melancholy tune,
As if it dreamed of June
And whispered in its dream.
The thistles show beyond the brook
Dust on their down and bloom,
And out of many a weed-grown nook
The aster-flowers look
With eyes of tender gloom.
The silent orchard aisles are sweet
With smell of ripening fruit.
Through the sere grass, in shy retreat,
Flutter, at coming feet,
The robins strange and mute.
There is no wind to stir the leaves,
The harsh leaves overhead;
Only the querulous cricket grieves,
And shrilling locust weaves
A song of Summer dead.
Many of Howells’ works found free HERE.
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A unit study from Homeschool Share’s Summer Connections page
For a tea time treat make:
Your favorite fruity tea, to treasure the last of summer’s flavors, along with some orchard muffins. I use this basic recipe to utilize my summer bounty. It is versatile; just choose your favorite add-in, found at the end of the recipe.
Basic Muffin Recipe
¾ cup milk
½ cup oil (I use olive oil, coconut oil, safflower oil, or butter)
2 cups flour
1/3 cup sugar (I use ¼ t Stevia instead of sugar)
3 t baking powder
1 t salt
Bake at 375 for 15-20 minutes. If you use butter, they tend to brown quicker, so keep an eye on them. Makes about 36 mini muffins or 1 dozen regular muffins
Choose one to add to basic muffin mix:
– 1 apple, peeled and chopped, cinnamon and nutmeg to taste
– ½ cup applesauce and spices
– Decrease milk to 1/3 cup and add 1 cup mashed banana (we add mini chocolate chips too)
– 1 cup fresh or frozen blueberries
– ½ cup pumpkin and spices to taste (I use cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves)
– 1 peeled, diced fresh peach
– ½ cup shredded zucchini, most water squeezed out