Josiah Gilbert Holland

Portrait of Josiah Gilbert Holland

Josiah Gilbert Holland was an American novelist, essayist and poet particularly during the Civil War. He was born on 24th July 1819 in Dwight, Massachusetts, USA and died on 12th October 1881 in New York City, USA aged 62.

Major Works

“Life of Abraham Lincoln” (1866)
Kathrina: Her Life and Mine, In a Poem” (1867)
Arthur Bonnicastle: An American Novel” (1873)
“The Mis­tress and the Manse” (1874)
“The Puritan’s Guest, And Other Poems” (1881)

Biography Timeline

Josiah Gilbert Holland was born on 24th July 1819 in Dwight, Belchertown, Massachusetts, USA. His family were poor but deeply religious puritans and moved home frequently. He was the youngest of six children.

1835: He works in a factory to supplement the family’s income and only spends a short time at Northampton High School which he then leaves due to ill health.

1843: Having saved some money he completes a degree in medicine at Berkshire Medical College. He begins a medical practice with a fellow student Dr. Charles Bailey in Springfield, Massachusetts. He then opens a short-lived women’s hospital in the town with Charles Robinson.

1845: He marries Elizabeth Luna Chapin, from an old Springfield family, who becomes great friends with the poet Emily Dickinson

1847: He begins publishing a newspaper, “The Bay State Weekly Courier” but it never sells well. In it he publishes some of Dickinson’s poetry. He also publishes some of his own work in the “Southern Literary Messenger”. To gain more money he takes up the job of a teacher in Richmond, Virginia and then moves on to Viskburg, Mississippi where he becomes superintendent od schools.

1848: His poetry is published in the New York “Knickerbocker Magazine” and the “Home Journal”.

1849: In April he returns to Western Massachusetts so that his wife can look after her dying mother. He becomes assistant Editor of the “Springfield Daily Republican” under Samuel Bowles. In September the paper publishes his “Three Weeks on a Cotton Plantation” and he writes many stories under the pseudonym Timothy Titcomb. The Republican becomes one of the most widely read small city newspapers in America.

1851: He receives an honorary doctorate from Amherst College.

1855: He publishes the two-volume “History of Western Massachusetts” his first book under his real name.

1857: He publishes the historical novel “The Bay-Path: A Tale of Colonial New England Life” and begins giving lectures along with other speakers such as Oliver Wendell Holmes.

1858: “Titcomb’s Let­ters to Young Peo­ple, Sin­gle and Mar­ried” are collected together. He writes the narrative poem “Bitter-Sweet”.

1859: “Gold-Foil: Hammered from Popular Proverbs” comes out under the Timothy Titcomb pen name.

1860: He publishes his second novel “Miss Gilbert’s Career: An American Story” which is considered one of the first novels leading towards American Realism.

1861: He publishes “Lessons in Life: A Series of Familiar Essays”.

1862: He has a house built in the Italianate style in North Springfield called “Brightwood”. He becomes temporary editor of the “Springfield Republican” whilst Bowles is away in Europe.

1863: He publishes “Letters to the Joneses”.

1866: He publishes his “Life of Ab­ra­ham Lin­coln” not long after the assassination of the President.

1867: He publishes “Kathrina: Her Life and Mine, In a Poem” and “Christ and the Twelve: Or Scenes and Events in the Life of Our Saviour and His Apostles, as Painted by the Poets”. 

1870: He becomes editor of “Scribner’s Monthly Magazine” and his writings become widely quoted at the time though are largely forgotten now.

1872: He publishes “The Mar­ble Pro­phe­cy, and Oth­er Po­ems” in New York, where he moves with his family, and “Garnered Sheaves: The Complete Poetical Works”. He also produces “Plain Talks On Familiar Subjects: A Series of Popular Lectures” and an “Illustrated Library of Favorite Song”.

1873: He publishes Arthur Bonnicastle: An American Novel”.

1874: He publishes The Mistress of the Manse: A Poem” and by now his books are outselling those by Mark Twain. 

1875: He publishes The Story of Sevenoaks: A Story of To-Day”.

1876: He publishes Nicholas Minturn: A Study in a Story” and “Every-Day Topics: A Book of Briefs”.

1877: He publishes the novel “Nicholas Min­turn” and builds himself a summer house in Alexandria Bay, New York State which he names “Bonniecastle” after the hero of his previous book.

1881: He publishes The Puritan’s Guest, And Other Poems” and “Concerning the Jones Family”.

Josiah Gilbert Holland died of heart failure on 12th October 1881 in New York City, USA. He was buried in Springfield Cemetery in Massachusetts, USA. Many local newspapers in America who had derided his work as mediocre wrote glowing obituaries.

Further Information

Gutenberg online works of Holland listed by popularity.