Howells was born 1 March 1837 at Martin's Ferry, Ohio. He subsequently became known as "America's Leading Writer of Fiction." His birthplace was constructed of brick but was destroyed to make way for the track of the Cleveland and Pittsburgh railway.
The Howells were of Welsh stock and Quakers, and had distinct literary tastes that could be traced back several generations. When the boy was three years of age the family moved to Butler County, Ohio, where his father published a newspaper, the Hamilton Intelligencer. Here William, while still a child, learned to set type. From there they moved to Dayton, where the elder Howells purchased the Dayton Transcript and changed it into a daily. His sons aided him in typesetting. William often worked until near midnight and then would rise at four o'clock to distribute the paper. But the enterprise was not a success. After a two-years' struggle Mr. Howells one day announced to his sons the enterprise was a failure, whereupon they all went down to the Big Miami River and took a good swim to freshen up for another tug with fate.
In 1851, when fourteen years old, he got a position as compositor on the Ohio State Journal at Columbus. His pay was four dollars per week; this was the first money he earned and received as his own. He used his income to help support his family. While in Columbus, jointly with a fellow compositor, John J. Platt, he published a volume of poetry. Later he contributed poems to the Atlantic Monthly; was a newspaper correspondent; wrote a campaign life of Lincoln; from 1861 to 1864 was consul at Venice; from 1866 to 1872 was assistant editor of the Atlantic Monthly, and then until 1881 editor-in-chief.
Mr. Howells wrote in a field which he dominated -- social life in America. He had a happy home with his wife and children in Beacon St., Boston, where he devoted his mornings to writing, usually completing about 1500 words a day.
This entry is adapted from Henry Howe's HISTORICAL COLLECTIONS OF OHIO (2 vols., 1907). The book has been reedited, updated, and restructured for inclusion in the Pierian Press Fulltext eBooks database, and is included on the Stratton House Inn Web site by special permission. This entry is licensed for use ONLY on this Web site. This entry may not be copied or downloaded, but may be used for educational purposes and personal pleasure under fair-use provisions via this Web site. Please note that the Stratton House Inn iteration of this entry does NOT include the subject headings assigned the entry for use in the Fulltext eBooks database.
DATABASE: Fulltext eBooks: Copyright (c) 1998 The Pierian Press, Inc. All Rights Reserved
ENTRY NUMBER: EBK31135121