Early American Authors

Gabriel Shultz Professor Wilkins American Literature


Thomas Morton

Approx. 1579 - Approx. 1647

Major work: "New English Canaan" (1637)

Thomas Morton was an activist during Puritan rule in Massachusetts. He founded the colony of Merrymount, which had practices that contrasted with the following area.

Anne Bradstreet

Mar 20, 1612 - Sep 16, 1672

Major work: "The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up in America" (1650)

Anne Bradstreet was a modest writer who wrote about the different elements of the "Flesh and Spirit" side of humanity. She was the first woman in the English New World colonies to be published.

Michael Wigglesworth

October 18, 1631 - Jun 10, 1705

Major works: "Day of Doom" (1662) and "God's Controversy with New England" (1662)

Wigglesworth shows resentment towards Indians in some of his works. And often is contrasted with Morton. Wigglesworth also critiques the Puritans despite being one himself; he believes the strayed from their faith.

Edward Taylor

Approx. 1642 - Jun 29, 1729

Major work: "Preparatory Meditation" (1682-1725)

Edward Taylor was raised with a Puritan background. Therefore, he requested his work not be published for fear of a social backlash to his family. These works were published 200 years later.

Cotton Mather

Feb 12, 1663 - Feb 13, 1728

Major work: "Wonders of the Invisible World" (1693)

Cotton Mather was a supported of the Salem Witch Trials. He was similar to Wigglesworth in regard to wanting Puritans to return to their former roots.

Jonathan Edwards

October 05, 1703 - Mar 22, 1758

Major work: "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God" (1741)

Jonathan Edwards was a pastor that exemplified the extreme belief and way of thinking the Puritans embodied.

Ben Franklin

January 17, 1706 - April 17, 1790

Major work: "Poor Richards Almanac" (1739)

Ben Franklin was a key diplomat and political activist during the revolutionary era. He is know for having all of the Puritan pros (work ethic and education) and none of their cons (extremism).

Philis Wheately

May 08, 1753 - Dec 05, 1784

Major work: "To the King's Most Excellent Majesty" (1768)

Philis Wheately was an African American female who, despite her disadvantages, became a influential writer and was renowned by founding fathers, specifically George Washington.

Washington Irving

Apr 03, 1783 - Nov 28, 1859

Major works: "Rip Van Winkle" (1819) and "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" (1820)

Washington Irving spoke of "Biological Destiny" in his works. He broke this order by writing of the American ideal of social mobility.

William Cullen Bryant

Nov 03, 1794 - Jun 12, 1878

Major work: "Thanatopsis" (1817)

William Cullen Bryant is one of the fireside poets. He was a romanticist and a long time editor of the "New York Evening Post."

Ralph Waldo Emerson

May 25, 1803 - Apr 27, 1882

Major work: "Nature" (1836) and "The Poet" (1844)

Emerson was key in the Transcendentalist movement. He was a pastor like his father, but did not feel right for the role due to shaken faith. He went to Harvard through the generosity of his peers.

Nathaniel Hawthorne

Jul 04, 1804 - May 19, 1864

Major work: "The Scarlet Letter" (1850)

Hawthorne was a dark romanticist who was influenced by the Puritans. His work often invokes psychological reflection and underlying moral messages. Also friends with Margaret Fuller.

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Feb 27, 1807 - Mar 24, 1882

Major work: "Voices of the Night" (1839)

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was one of the five fireside poets. His work was esteemed at the time and he tried to capture the America work ethic.

John Greenleaf Whittier

Dec 17, 1807 - Sep 07, 1892

Major work: "Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyl" (1866)

John Greenleaf Whittier is classified as a fireside poet. He was also a Quaker and Abolitionist.

Edar Allen Poe

Jan 19, 1809 - Oct 07, 1849

Major work: "The Raven" (1845)

One of the best known writers in America, Edgar Allen Poe was undoubtedly influential. However, he was at odds with most other writers during his life.

Margaret Fuller

May 23, 1810 - Jul 19, 1850

Major work: "Woman in the Nineteenth Century" (1843)

Margaret Fuller was a Transcendentalist second only to Emerson. She was a feminist and a highly respected female. She was the editor for the Transcendentalist paper "The Dial." A nickname she had was Zenobia.

Henry David Thoreau

Jul 12, 1817 - May 06, 1862

Major work: "Resistance to Civil Government (Civil Disobedience)" (1849)

Thoreau was a philosopher that was inspired by Emerson. He is most well associated with the act of civil disobedience. Not entirely endorsed by Emerson.

James Lowell

Feb 22, 1819 - Aug 12, 1891

Major works: A Fable for Critics" (1848)

James Lowell is associated with the Fireside Poets. He was a romanticist and abolitionist.

Walt Whitman

May 31, 1819 - Mar 26, 1892

Major work: "Leaves of Grass" (1855)

Walt Whitman was a transition from Transcendentalism to realism. He was also considered a hyper individualist and adored Emerson. He published a letter to him from Emerson without consent: this was a social taboo at the time.