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  • 8/29/2004

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.

(August 29, 1809 - October 8, 1894)

Oliver Wendell Holmes the elder, was a physician by profession but achieved fame as a writer; he was one of the best regarded American poets of the 19th century.
He was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of a minister. He was educated at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts and at Harvard University. He first attained national prominence with his poem Old Ironsides about the 18th century battleship USS Constitution which was to be broken up for scrap; the poem generated public sentiment that resulted in the historic ship being preserved as a monument.
He went to Paris for three years to study medicine, then returned to get his doctorate at Harvard in 1836, the same year the first book of his verse was published. He then became a professor of anatomy and physiology at Dartmouth College.

He was a contributor of essays and poems to the Atlantic Monthly from its inception, and also published novels. His son was Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.

Holmes died in Boston, Massachusetts.

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