The poem was first published in 1857 in an edition of The Atlantic Monthly. The poem was therefore written at the height of the American Renaissance where there was a resurgence in the growth of literary, social, cultural and scientific exploration. The author, Oliver Wendell Holmes, was described as –
A medical doctor, poet, novelist, travel writer, essayist, philosopher, lecturer and conversationalist.
This diversity of interest and pursuit characterized the age and the depth of thought that was committed to works such as The Chambered Nautilus. The theme of being released from one's shell exemplifies the ideas of free thought and free spirit that characterise the great thinkers of the age.