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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
Josiah Gilbert Holland (1819–1881)
Critical and Biographical Introduction
 
WHEN Josiah Gilbert Holland, returning to Springfield, Massachusetts, at the age of thirty, there met Mr. Samuel Bowles and became his co-worker on the Springfield Republican, he found at last a fitting opportunity for his talent. Up to that time he had drearily struggled with poverty, and bravely tried in many ways to earn his living. His father, the original of the well-known poem ‘Daniel Gray,’ had inventive power but no practical ability, and drifted with his family from town to town in search of work. Josiah, born at Belchertown, Massachusetts, in 1819, early learned the necessity of self-support. He was eagerly ambitious of education and a professional career; and in spite of many obstacles he entered the Northampton High School, although ill health prevented him from finishing the course. When twenty-one he began the study of medicine, and in 1844 was graduated with honor from the Berkshire Medical College.  1
  The years that followed were discouraging, for patients did not come to the young doctor. With true Yankee versatility he turned his hand to anything,—taught district school, was a traveling writing-master, and a daguerreotypist. Of his boyish mortification at being a mill hand he has told us in ‘Arthur Bonnicastle.’ For a year he was superintendent of education at Vicksburg, Mississippi. He tried editorial work, and started the Bay State Courier, which ran for six months. All these varied experiences gave him the knowledge of American life and appreciation of workaday struggles which later made the value of his poems, essays, and novels. It was largely due to his influence that the Springfield Republican became so widely known and popular a journal. In it his ‘Letters to Young People Married and Single: By Timothy Titcomb’ first attracted readers by their vivacious style, moral sincerity, and good common-sense. Later, in book form, they had a great and immediate success.  2
  In 1870 Dr. Holland was one of the founders and became editor of Scribner’s Monthly, later the Century Magazine, and retained the editorship until his death in 1881. Here, as in all his work, he showed his conscious purpose to be a helpful moral influence to his readers.  3
  Dr. Holland’s novels, ‘Arthur Bonnicastle’ (1873), ‘Sevenoaks’ (1876), and ‘Nicholas Minturn’ (1877), although showing his quick and sympathetic observation and containing fine passages, have been far less popular than his poems. The latter, in their constant appeal to moral sense, and in their accurate depiction of the homely and picturesque in New England life, found many lovers. Several of the short lyrics, with ‘Bittersweet’ (1858), ‘Katrina’ (1868), and ‘The Mistress of the Manse’ (1871), came as messages from a true American poet who understood and honored his own people.  4
 
 
CONTENTS · GENERAL INDEX · SONGS & LYRICS · BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY
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