Free History Studies: Four Boys Who Became Authors

Free History Studies: Four Boys Who Became Authors
Free History Studies: Four Boys Who Became Authors

William Cullen Bryant, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William H. Prescott, and Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. were early American authors of note.

Read the current chapter online: “Some Boys Who Became Authors”

  • Map the following (you’ll find mapping resources below):
  • Read “Robert of Lincoln” by William Cullen Bryant.
  • Learn more about the Bobolink.  How well does Bryant’s poem describe the bird?
  • Copy the stanza of the poem printed in the book or your own favorite stanza.
  • Nathaniel Hawthorn read Shakespeare and Milton.  Read an adapted version of some of Shakespeare’s works or this poem by Milton.
  • Read a tale from A Wonder Book or Tanglewood Tales.
  • The machine William H. Prescott used was called a noctograph.  View an 1842 ad for a noctograph similar to the one William H. Prescott used.
  • Read more about William H. Prescott’s eyes and use of the noctograph from the introduction to his published correspondence.
  • William H. Prescott’s first book was The History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella.  View the inside cover.
  • In the time of Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr., shops often had signs that easily identified what type of shop it was.  Create or draw your a sign of your own to represent a shop, and have someone guess what type of store it is.
  • Read “The Last Leaf.”
  • Learn one of the hymns written by Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.
  • Read “Old Ironsides,” a very famous poem by Holmes about the USS Constitution.
  • Choose your favorite stanza from one of the poems by Holmes above to copy.
  • More about William Cullen Bryant, Nathaniel Hawthorne, William H. Prescott, and Oliver Wendall Holmes Sr. from the Book of Knowledge:

    In 1794, at Cummington, Massachusetts, a boy was born, named William Cullen Bryant, who was destined to do for poetry in America what Irving and Cooper were doing for prose…. His education was rather unconventional.  He had private tutoring and a year at Williams College, and for the rest he wandered through the woods and by the streams.  At the age of eleven he had already begun to write verses….  Meantime William had become a lawyer and actually practiced law for some years.  But his love for literature was stronger than his liking for law, and having decided to devote himself to literature as a profession, in 1825 he went to New York with his young wife.  Life was not easy for them at first, but before long he became associated with the New York Evening Post.  He was editor of this paper for fifty years and brought it up to a high standard, which it maintained for long.  Through it he gained great influence in the national life, and used this influence unfailingly on the side of right and freedom and justice….Hawthorn was born in 1804 and was the son of a sea captain who commanded one of the fast sailing ships for which New England was so famous….  In 1821 he was sent to Bowdoin College, where he was in the same class as Longfellow; and Franklin Pierce, who later became president of the United States, was his closest friend.  When he left college, instead of preparing for a profession like medicine or the law, he shut himself up in his room and worked there day after day and year after year, writing and rewriting, until at length he was satisfied that he had done something that was good enough to publish…. We might have had more of these stories, but in 1853 President Franklin Pierce, his old college friend, appointed Hawthorne consul at Liverpool, England, and during the four years that he was consul he published nothing…. In 1860 he returned to America to find the country almost on the verge of the Civil War.  He lived through the war, but even before his return from England his health had begun to break down, and he died suddenly on May 19, 1864….Oliver Wendell Holmes…was born at Cambridge in 1809, and lived until 1894.  He graduated from Harvard in 1829 and took up the practice of medicine in Boston.  In 1847 he was made professor of anatomy and physiology at Harvard, and we can imagine how the play of his humor lightened his lectures and made him a favorite with the students.  Meantime he had begun to write essays and poems.  In his college days he was class poet.  “Old Ironsides,” which helped to save the famous frigate Constitution from destruction, was written when he was only twenty-one.  While he practiced medicine and taught in the university he went on writing verses….  Then, in 1857, James Russell Lowell, who had become editor of The Atlantic Monthly, refused to accept the appointment unless Dr. Holmes consented to write for it, and thus it came about that the cheery, humorous professor contributed his best essays, with poems interspersed, to the magazine….William Hickling Prescott…was born in Boston in 1796, the son of a distinguished lawyer.  He graduated from Harvard in 1814 when only eighteen years of age.  While a student he lost the sight of one eye and injured the other, but he determined, nevertheless, to become an author…. He studied the literature of many European countries and began to work upon Spanish history in 1826.  Twelve years later he published The History of the Reign of Ferdinand and Isabella, which was soon translated into French, Spanish, and German.  This was only the beginning.  Six years later The Conquest of Mexico appeared.  This is probably his best work…. Modern students of history have shown us that some of the accounts of explorers that Prescott trusted are not altogether reliable, but his histories remain the most interesting story of Spain in the New World.”American Literature,” The Book of Knowledge

Further Investigation

William Cullen Bryant
Concise biography at the Virginia Commonwealth University.

Nathaniel Hawthorne
Biography at the European Graduate School.

William Hickling Prescott Papers
Scroll down for a biographical sketch at the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr.
Biography at the European Graduate School.


Massachusetts Map/Quiz Printout

Interactive Map Maker {Free}
Make your own maps.

Theme Poems
Interactive at that helps you create a poem based on a shape.  Fun and easy writing go-along.


“Death of the Flowers” by William Cullan Bryant
Selection from McGuffey’s Fifth Eclectic Reader.

“Hugh Idle and Mr. Toil” by Nathaniel Hawthorne
Selection from McGuffey’s Fourth Eclectic Reader.  Continues into the next lesson.

“The English Character” by William Hickling Prescott
Selection from McGuffey’s Sixth Eclectic Reader.

“Bill and Joe” by Oliver Wendell Holmes
Selection from McGuffey’s Sixth Eclectic Reader.

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans
10 Ways to Use Notebooking: #3 Literature

10 Ways to Use Notebooking: #3 Literature
Ideas and forms for any literature study.

Printables & Notebooking Pages

United States Map map for locating Massachusetts.

Massachusetts State Map
Map for locating Cummington, Salem, and Cambridge.

Author Notebooking Pages {Free Download}

Author Notebooking Pages
Simple pages that include room for copywork, narrations, an illustration and dates of birth/death of the author, and books by the author.

Four Boys Who Became Authors Notebooking Pages
Simple pages, including one for each author, for copywork, narrations, or wrapping up.

Enjoy the complete series: