Born in Portland in 1807, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Bowdoin class of 1825, returned to teach French, Spanish and Italian languages in 1829. A young and successful professor, Longfellow soon accepted a professorship at Harvard College in 1834. By the mid-nineteenth century Longfellow retired from teaching, becoming one of America’s first self-sustaining authors.
With the publication in 1877 of Kéramos, a poem about the potter’s art, Boston china and glass merchant Richard Briggs, saw a way to market Longfellow’s celebrity. He commissioned specially decorated pitchers from Josiah Wedgwood, one of England’s leading ceramic manufactories. Featuring the poet’s portrait and the first stanza of Kéramos, the pot’s stylized ornament reflects aesthetics of the Arts and Crafts Movement.