Richard Henry Stoddard

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Richard Henry Stoddard.

Richard Henry Stoddard (July 2, 1825 – May 12, 1903) was an American critic and poet.


Portrait of a young Stoddard.

Richard Henry Stoddard was born on July 2, 1825, in Hingham, Massachusetts,[1] his father, a sea-captain, was wrecked and lost on one of his voyages while Richard was a child, and the lad went in 1835 to New York City with his mother, who had married again. He attended the public schools of that city, he became a blacksmith and later an iron moulder, reading much poetry at the same time. His talents brought him into contact with young men interested in literature, notably with Bayard Taylor, who had just published his Views Afoot. In 1849 he gave up his industrial trades and began to write for a living,[2] he contributed to the Union Magazine, the Knickerbocker Magazine, Putnam's Monthly Magazine and the New York Evening Post.

He married Elizabeth Drew Barstow in 1852; she was also a novelist and poet; the next year, Nathaniel Hawthorne helped him to secure the appointment of inspector of customs of the Port of New York. He kept this job until 1870.[3]

From 1870 to 1873, he was confidential clerk to George B. McClellan in the New York dock department, and from 1874 to 1875 city librarian of New York. He was literary reviewer for the New York World (1860–1870); one of the editors of Vanity Fair; editor of The Aldine (1869–1879), and literary editor of the Mail and the Mail and Express (1880–1903), he died in New York on May 12, 1903.[3]

Critical response and legacy[edit]

In his parody of contemporary writers, The Echo Club (1876), Bayard Taylor placed Stoddard as one of the most important critics of the day, alongside James Russell Lowell and George Ripley.[4] More important than his critical was his poetical work, which at its best is sincere, original and marked by delicate fancy, and felicity of form; and his songs have given him a high and permanent place among American lyric poets.

His 1857 poem "Roses and Thorns", in a Russian translation by Aleksey Pleshcheyev, was set for voice and piano by Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky as "Legend", No. 5 from "Sixteen Songs for Children", Op. 54.[5] The song, in turn, was the basis of Anton Arensky's Variations on a Theme by Tchaikovsky, Op. 35a, for string orchestra.[6]


As editor[edit]

  • The Loves and Heroines of the Poets (1861)
  • Melodies and Madrigals, Mostly from the old English Poets (1865)
  • The Late English Poets (1865), selections
  • Griswold's The Poets and Poetry of America (1872)
  • Female Poets of America (1874)
  • The Bric-a-Brac Series, in 10 vols (1874–1876)
  • English Verse, in 5 vols edited with W.J. Linton (1883)
  • Four editions of Poe's works, with a memoir (1872–1894)

As poet[edit]

  • Footprints (1849), privately printed and afterwards suppressed by the author
  • Poems (1852)
  • Adventures in Fairyland (1853)
  • Town and Country (1857)
  • The Story of Little Red Riding Hood (1864)
  • Songs of Summer (1857)
  • The King's Bell (1862), one of his most popular narrative poems
  • Abraham Lincoln: A Horatian Ode (1865)
  • The Book of the East (1867)
  • Poems (1880), a collective edition
  • The Lion's Cub, with Other Verse (1890)


  • Life, Travels and Books of Alexander von Humboldt (1860)
  • Under the Evening Lamp (1892), essays dealing mainly with the modern English poets
  • Recollections Personal and Literary (1903), edited by Ripley Hitchcock


  1. ^ Ehrlich, Eugene and Gorton Carruth. The Oxford Illustrated Literary Guide to the United States. New York: Oxford University Press, 1982: 49. ISBN 0-19-503186-5
  2. ^ Wikisource-logo.svg Browne, Junius Henri (1900). "Stoddard, Richard Henry" . In Wilson, J. G.; Fiske, J. (eds.). Appletons' Cyclopædia of American Biography. New York: D. Appleton.
  3. ^ a b Chisholm 1911.
  4. ^ Wermuth, Paul C. Bayard Taylor. New York: Twayne Publishers, Inc., 1973: 165. ISBN 0-8057-0718-2.
  5. ^ The Lied, Art Song and Choral Texts Page
  6. ^ Sonic Labyrinth


External links[edit]