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Celia Thaxter

Born June 29, 1835(1835-06-29)
Portsmouth, New Hampshire, United States
Died August 25, 1894 (aged 58)
Appledore Island, Isles of Shoals, Maine United States
Occupation Poet and writer

Celia Laighton Thaxter (June 29, 1835, Portsmouth, New Hampshire – August 25, 1894) was an American writer of poetry and stories.

Thaxter grew up in the Isles of Shoals, first on White Island, where her father, Thomas Laighton, was a lighthouse keeper, and then on Smuttynose and Appledore Islands.

When she was sixteen, she married Levi Thaxter and moved to the mainland, residing first in Watertown, Massachusetts at a property his father owned. In 1854, they accepted an offer to use a house in Newburyport. The couple then acquired their own home, today called the Celia Thaxter House, built in 1856 near the Charles River at Newtonville. Her first published poem, Landlocked, was written during this time on the mainland. Her life with Levi was not harmonious and she missed her islands, and so after 10 years away, she moved back to Appledore Island.

Celia became the hostess of her father's hotel, the Appledore House, and welcomed many New England literary and artistic notables to the island and to her parlor, including writers Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, John Whittier, Sarah Orne Jewett, and the artists William Morris Hunt and Childe Hassam, who painted several pictures of her. She was present at the time of the infamous murders on Smuttynose Island, about which she wrote the essay, A Memorable Murder. In 2008, The Library of America selected "A Memorable Murder" for inclusion in its two-century retrospective of American True Crime.

William Morris Hunt, a close family friend, spent the last months of his life on Appledore Island, trying to recover from a crippling depression. He drowned in late summer 1879, three days after finishing his last sketch. Celia Thaxter discovered the painter's body, an apparent suicide. That same year, the Thaxters bought 186 acres (75 hectares) along Seapoint Beach on Cutts Island, Kittery Point, where they built a grand Shingle Style "cottage" called Champernowne Farm. In 1880, they auctioned the Newtonville house, and by 1881, moved to the new home. It stayed in the family until the 1989 death of her granddaughter and biographer, Rosamond Thaxter.

Celia Thaxter's Garden, 1890, by Childe Hassam

Her poems first appeared in The Atlantic Monthly and she became one of America's favorite authors in the late 19th century. Among her best-known poems are The Burgomaster Gull, Landlocked, Milking, The Great White Owl, The Kingfisher, and especially The Sandpiper.[1]

Celia Thaxter died suddenly while on Appledore Island. She was buried not far from her cottage, which unfortunately burned in the 1914 fire that destroyed The Appledore House hotel. [2]




  1. ^ Vallier, Jane (1994). Poet on Demand: The Life, Letters, and Works of Celia Thaxter. Peter E. Randall. ISBN 978-0914339472.  
  2. ^ Mandel, Norma. "Celia Thaxter Timeline".  

Further reading

  • Rosamond Thaxter, Sandpiper—The Life and Letters of Celia Thaxter; Peter E. Randall, publisher, Portsmouth, New Hampshire 1963

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Sad soul, take comfort, nor forget
That sunrise never failed us yet.

Celia Thaxter (b. June 29, 1835, Portsmouth, New Hampshire - d. August 25, 1894) was an American writer of poetry and stories.


  • The summer day was spoiled with fitful storm;
    At night the wind died and the soft rain dropped;
    With lulling murmur, and the air was warm,
    And all the tumult and the trouble stopped.
    • The Nestling Swallows, in Drift-Weed (1878), p. 20.
  • Sad soul, take comfort, nor forget
    That sunrise never failed us yet.
    • The Sunrise never failed us yet, in Drift-Weed (1878), p. 64.
  • Already the dandelions
    Are changed into vanishing ghosts.
    • Already, in Drift-Weed (1878), p. 103.
  • Across the narrow beach we flit,
    One little sand-piper and I;
    • The Sand-piper (1862).

External links

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

CELIA THAXTER (1836-1894), American poet, was born at Portsmouth, New Hampshire, on the 29th of June 1836. Her father, Thomas B. Laighton, became offended with some of his associates in state politics, and retired about 1841 to the barren and isolated Isles of Shoals, ten miles off Portsmouth, where for about ten years. he was keeper of the White Island lighthouse; and his daughter's girlhood was therefore spent in marine surroundings, which coloured the best of the verse she afterwards wrote. Her poems, mainly in lyrical form, deal with the beacon-light, the sea-storm, the glint of sails, the sandpiper, the flower among the rocks, &c., in characteristic and sympathetic fidelity. She also wrote prose sketches of life and scenery, Among the Isles of Shoals (1873); stories and poems for children, and letters; besides a book about floriculture, An Island Garden (1894). In 1896 appeared a complete edition of her poems, edited by Sarah Orne Jewett. She married in 1851 Levi L. Thaxter (d. 1884), a devoted student of Robert Browning's poetry, and spent most of her life on Appledore, one of the Isles of Shoals, where she died on the 26th of August 1894. Her son Roland Thaxter (b. 1858), a well-known cryptogamic botanist, became professor of botany at Harvard in 1891.

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