Lesson Plans Lesson Plans

Longfellow Studies: Longfellow and Dickens - The Story of a Trans-Atlantic Friendship

Donna Wilhelm, Freeport High School, Cumberland County



  • English Language Arts -- Reading
  • Social Studies -- History

2-3 days

  • 1851-1920
  • Arts
  • The People/Peopling of Maine

What if you don't teach American Studies but you want to connect to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow in meaningful ways? One important connection is Henry's friendship with Charles Dickens. There are many great resources about Dickens and if you teach his novels, you probably already know his biography and the chronology of his works. No listing for his association with Henry appears on most websites and few references will be found in texts. However, journals and diary entries and especially letters reveal a friendship that allowed their mutual respect to influence Henry's work.

  • Students will use a variety of documents to explore the relationship between Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and Charles Dickens. Students will make connections between various texts, and put the friendship between the two men into a societal and historical context.

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A resource developed through the "Longfellow & the Forging of American Identity" program funded by NEH