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Oliver Wendell Holmes - Biography & Selected Products

Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. was born on August 29th 1809.

Among his many talents were those of physician, poet, professor, lecturer, and author.

Here we concentrate on his writing.  He was regarded by many of his peers – including such luminaries as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and James Russell Lowell – as one of the finest writers of their times.  A great compliment indeed.  As a poet he is considered to be one of the Fireside Poets and indeed his poems are works of real talent and quality.  As a writer he is perhaps best known for his ‘Breakfast Table’ series.  In this collection we publish his medical essays and show just why he was seen as an important reformer in that field.  Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, his education was at Phillips Academy followed by Harvard College. After graduating in 1829, he was to study law briefly before turning to the medical profession.

At tis time he also began to write poetry and one of his most famous "Old Ironsides", was published in 1830.

Following training at the prestigious medical schools of Paris, Holmes was granted his M.D. from Harvard Medical School in 1836. He taught for a time at Dartmouth Medical School before returning to teach at Harvard and, for a time, served as dean there.

As a writer, many of his works were published in The Atlantic Monthly, a magazine that he also named.  He was, over the years, the recipient of many honorary degrees from Universities around the world for his many literary achievements and other accomplishments.  His writing style was often humorous and conversational and often reflected his native Boston area.

Holmes retired from Harvard in 1882 but continued to write poetry, novels and essays until his death on October 7th 1894.