From Ohio History Central
Portrait of journalist and author William Dean Howells who was from Martin's Ferry, Ohio, ca. 1900-1920.
American author and journalist William Dean Howells was born on March 1, 1837, in Belmont County, Ohio. Howell's family struggled financially and he began to work at an early age in his father's print shop. Although he had only a limited formal education, Howells was an avid reader. He spent much of his free time away from the print shop studying foreign languages.
By the late 1850s, Howells had become a newspaper reporter. He also began to write poetry and published his first collection in 1859. The Atlantic Monthly also began to publish his literary work. Howells's reputation grew quickly. In 1860, the Republican Party selected Howells to write a biography of their presidential candidate, Abraham Lincoln.
Lincoln won the election of 1860 and rewarded Howells by appointing him the United States Consul to Venice, Italy. Howells remained in this position until 1865, when he returned to the United States and became an assistant editor with The Atlantic Monthly. He became the editor-in-chief of the journal in 1871. Howells remained with The Atlantic Monthly until 1881.
Howells became a well-known novelist during the late nineteenth century. He published his first novel, Their Wedding Journey, in 1872. He authored thirty-five novels over the next fifty years. He also published numerous short stories, plays, and poems. Among Howells' good friends were authors Stephen Crane, Paul Laurence Dunbar, and Mark Twain. Howells was the first president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters. He died on May 11, 1920.
- Crowley, John William. The Black Heart's Truth: The Early Career of W.D. Howells. Chapel Hill: The University of North Carolina, 1985.
- Jordan, Philip D. Ohio Comes of Age: 1874-1899. Columbus: Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, 1943.
- Roseboom, Eugene H. The Civil War Era: 1850-1873. Columbus: Ohio State Archaeological and Historical Society, 1944.