Oliver Wendell HOLMES, SR

Family tree of Oliver Wendell HOLMES, SR

Author, Poet

AmericanBorn Oliver Wendell HOLMES, SR

American physician, poet, professor, lecturer, and author

Born on August 29, 1809 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA , United States

Died on October 07, 1894 in Boston, Massachusetts, USA

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Holmes was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts. His birthplace, a house just north of Harvard Yard, was said to have been the place where the Battle of Bunker Hill was planned. He was the first son of Abiel Holmes (1763–1837), minister of the First Congregational Church and avid historian, and Sarah Wendell, Abiel's second wife. Sarah was the daughter of a wealthy family, and Holmes was named for his maternal grandfather, a judge. The first Wendell, Evert Jansen, left Holland in 1640 and settled in Albany, New York. Also through his mother, Holmes was descended from Massachusetts Governor Simon Bradstreet and his wife, Anne Bradstreet (daughter of Thomas Dudley), the first published American poet.

From a young age, Holmes was small and suffered from asthma, but he was known for his precociousness. When he was eight, he took his five-year-old brother, John, to witness the last hanging in Cambridge's Gallows Lot and was subsequently scolded by his parents. He also enjoyed exploring his father's library, writing later in life that "it was very largely theological, so that I was walled in by solemn folios making the shelves bend under the load of sacred learning." After being exposed to poets such as John Dryden, Alexander Pope and Oliver Goldsmith, the young Holmes began to compose and recite his own verse. His first recorded poem, which was copied down by his father, was written when he was 13.


Although a talented student, the young Holmes was often admonished by his teachers for his talkative nature and habit of reading stories during school hours. He studied under Dame Prentiss and William Bigelow before enrolling in what was called the "Port School", a select private academy in the Cambridgeport settlement. One of his schoolmates was future critic and author Margaret Fuller, whose intellect Holmes admired.

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Geographical origins

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