James Russell Lowell was an American Romantic poet, critic, editor and diplomat. He is associated with the Fireside Poets, a group of New England writers who were among the first American poets that rivaled the popularity of British poets. These writers usually used conventional forms and meters in their poetry, making them suitable for families entertaining at their fireside.
Lowell graduated from Harvard College in 1838, despite his reputation as a troublemaker, and went on to earn a law degree from Harvard Law School. He published his first collection of poetry in 1841 and married Maria White in 1844. The couple had several children, though only one survived past childhood. They soon became involved in the movement to abolish slavery, with Lowell using poetry to express his anti-slavery views and taking a job in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as the editor of an abolitionist newspaper.
After moving back to Cambridge, Lowell was one of the founders of a journal called The Pioneer, which lasted only three issues. He gained notoriety in 1848 with the publication of A Fable for Critics, a book-length poem satirizing contemporary critics and poets. The same year, he published The Biglow Papers, which increased his fame. He went on to publish several other poetry collections and essay collections throughout his literary career.