Wendell Holmes the elder, was a physician by profession but achieved
fame as a writer; he was one of the best regarded American poets
of the 19th century.
was born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the son of a minister. He
was educated at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts, and
at Harvard University. He first attained national prominence with
his poem "Old Ironsides" about the 18th century battleship
USS Constitution, which was to be broken up for scrap; the poem
generated public sentiment that resulted in the historic ship
being preserved as a monument. One of his most popular works was
The Autocrat of the Breakfast Table. He was one of the five members
of the group known as the Fireside Poets. He contributed poems
and essays to the Atlantic Monthly from its inception, and also
son was Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.
1846, in a letter to William T. G. Morton, the dentist who was
the first practitioner to publicly demonstrate the use of ether
during surgery, Holmes coined the word anæsthesia. He was
widely known and admired during his life, so much so that the
British author Arthur Conan Doyle named his famous fictional detective
Sherlock Holmes after him.
died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1894, and is buried in that
city's Mount Auburn Cemetery.