John Greenleaf Whittier, noted American “Fireside Poet” and Quaker abolitionist, was born on December 17, 1807 near Haverhill, Massachusetts. His first poem was printed in 1826. In 1827 he entered Haverhill Academy. During winter 1827-1828 he taught school. While teaching he had his first prose article published and began editing the American Manufacturer, a pro-Clay paper.
In 1829 Whittier returned to his parents’ farm and edited The Haverhill Gazette. From June to July, 1832 he edited The New England Weekly Review in Hartford, Connecticut. In 1831 he published prose and his first book, Moll Pitcher. Whittier became known as a newspaper contributor.
He was elected to the Massachusetts Legislature in 1835. His abolitionist articles began to be published in 1833 with Justice and Expediency. Whittier was active as an abolitionist politician and lobbyist in New York, 1837, and Philadelphia and Massachusetts, 1838. Amesbury, Massachusetts, became his headquarters.
Meanwhile, Whittier continued to write and publish books, poems, prose, and newspaper articles all his life. He worked as a newspaper editor of The Haverhill Gazette, 1836, The Amesbury’s Village Transcript (later The Essex Transcript), and as contributing editor of The National Era, 1845-1860. His poem “Snow-bound” in 1866 helped him live a fairly comfortable life. Nearly every one of his volumes published thereafter was a best seller. For a complete list see his biographical materials folder.
During his life, Whittier was recognized as one of America’s foremost poets. Both his 70th and 80th birthday celebrations were widely celebrated. Whittier lost his father (died 1832), mother (died 1857), sisters Mary (died 1860) and Elizabeth (died 1864). The poet died on September 7, 1890. (This information is from an encyclopedia entry on Whittier.)