Frederick Goddard Tuckerman Biography


(Poets and Poetry in America)

Frederick Goddard Tuckerman was born on February 4, 1821, in Boston, the youngest son of Edward and Sophia (May) Tuckerman. The poet’s father was a partner in the Boston firm of Tuckerman, Rogers and Cushing, Wholesalers and Importers; he died in 1842, leaving an ample inheritance. Frederick—named for F. W. Goddard (a kinsman whose accidental death in 1820 while crossing the Lake of Zurich was the subject of an elegy by his traveling companion, William Wordsworth)—prepared for college at the private school of Bishop John Henry Hopkins and at the Boston Latin School. He entered Harvard with the class of 1841, but eye trouble forced him to leave college for a time. Later, he entered the law school, graduated in 1842, and, after reading law in the office of Edward D. Schier, was admitted to the Suffolk bar in 1844. In 1847, he moved from Boston to Greenfield, in western Massachusetts. On June 17, 1847, he married Hannah Lucinda Jones, daughter of David S. Jones of Greenfield. They had three children: Edward, Anna, and Frederick. At Greenfield, Tuckerman abandoned the practice of law and lived a life of relative seclusion and retirement. He studied botany and astronomy, and he wrote poetry. Twice he traveled abroad. On the first of these excursions, in 1851, he met Alfred, Lord Tennyson. During the second visit, in 1855, he was Tennyson’s guest at Farringford, the Isle of Wight. The friendship between the two men appears to have been cordial. Tuckerman wrote to...

(The entire section is 470 words.)


(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

Frederick Goddard Tuckerman was born to one of Boston’s wealthiest merchant families. Tuckerman’s father made a fortune in dry goods and real estate; his mother, Sophia May Tuckerman, came from a fervently abolitionist family. Frederick, their third son, was named for a cousin whose accidental drowning in Lake Zurich had been memorialized by William Wordsworth. During Tuckerman’s childhood his family joined the Episcopalian church, which remained a lifelong influence upon him.

Tuckerman was educated at Bishop Hopkins’s school in Burlington, Vermont, and at Boston Latin. He entered Harvard University in 1837, immediately after Ralph Waldo Emerson’s “American Scholar” address, and his Greek tutor was the mystic Calvinist poet Jones Very. Tuckerman spent only one year at college before an eye ailment forced him to withdraw; after one year of recuperation he entered Harvard’s Law School, received his LL.B. in 1842, and after passing the bar examination began work in a law office. However, Tuckerman much preferred his studies in literature, botany, and astronomy to the practice of law, and he spent much time on long walking tours through western Massachusetts and the White Mountains of New Hampshire with his brother Edward, a botanist.

On June 17, 1847, Tuckerman married Hannah Jones and settled in Greenfield, in the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts. With the death of his father he had inherited enough to allow him to abandon law. Tuckerman was fascinated with Greenfield’s rich colonial history. He devoted himself to literary and scientific studies and wrote short, reflective lyric poems, mostly meditations on love and nature as well as longer narratives. In such works as “The Question” he...

(The entire section is 711 words.)