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C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
 
William Wetmore Story (1819–1895)
Critical and Biographical Introduction
 
WILLIAM WETMORE STORY made himself accomplished in two arts, like Blake or Rossetti. As a sculptor he was distinguished, and he was a graceful writer of both prose and verse. His statues of Edward Everett, George Peabody, Francis Scott Key, Lowell, Bryant, Theodore Parker, or of such ideal or historical subjects as Cleopatra, Medea, and The African Spirit, gave him wide reputation. His published writings are of a varied nature, ranging from legal books to love lyrics and odes of occasion. He was one of those cultured Americans who by long residence abroad become cosmopolitan in spirit, and reflect their environment in their work.  1
  William Wetmore Story’s father was Judge Joseph Story, the noted jurist, whose life the son wrote. William was born in Salem, Massachusetts, February 19th, 1819; and after being graduated from Harvard in 1838, studied law, was admitted to the bar, and published several legal works. But the desire to follow an art was strong in him; and in 1848 he went to Rome, became a sculptor, wrote many books, and resided at the Italian capital the remainder of his life, a conspicuous member of the American colony. He died there in 1895.  2
  As early as 1842 Story was editing and publishing law reports; and two years later appeared his Phi Beta Kappa poem at Harvard. His first book of ‘Poems’ dates from 1847; half a dozen volumes of verse were printed during a period of well-nigh half a century,—the final volume being ‘A Poet’s Portfolio’ (1894), a volume of mingled prose and verse in dialogue form, continuing the earlier ‘He and She: A Poet’s Portfolio’ (1883), and containing clever social verse and pungent prose comment on life. Perhaps his most picturesque and sympathetic prose is to be found in ‘Roba di Roma: or Walks and Talks about Rome’ (1862), to which a sequel was ‘The Castle of St. Angelo and the Evil Eye.’ Other books of essays are ‘Conversations in a Studio’ (1890), and ‘Excursions in Arts and Letters’ (1891),—polished, vigorous, often suggestive in thought and happy in expression. Story’s sympathies are broad, and he is sensitive to the finer issues of life and thought. In his mature poems he is the humanist and apostle of culture.  3
  A favorite verse form with him was the dramatic monologue made famous by Browning, and many of his lyrics and narratives show the influence of the Italy of art and literature. The most worthy of his poetry is that gathered in the two volumes entitled ‘Poems,’ published in 1886, and embodying several books previously issued.  4
 
 
CONTENTS · GENERAL INDEX · SONGS & LYRICS · BIOGRAPHICAL DICTIONARY
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