Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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FAIRFIELD, Sumner Lincoln, poet, born in Warwick, Massachusetts, 25 June 1803 ; died in New Orleans, La., 6 March 184:4. His father died when he was three years old, and the mother with her two children removed to a small farm in western Massachusetts. Fairfield entered Brown, but sickness prevented his graduation, and he became a tutor in Georgia and South Carolina. There he passed several years and prepared himself for entering the University, but changed his purpose and returned to the northern states. Meanwhile, as he says, he had published "two pamphlets of rhymes." In December 1825, Fairfield took passage for England. About this time his " Cities of the Plain" was published in Buckingham's" Oriental Herald." During his absence in Europe he contributed letters to several New York City weeklies. He returned home in July was married, and removed to Elizabeth, New Jersey, but afterward went to Boston, Harper's Ferry, Philadelphia, and other places, winning a precarious subsistence by writing for the press. In 1828 he became principal of the Newtown academy, near Philadelphia, but soon afterward left for New York City.
In 1833 he began the publication of the "North American Magazine" in Philadelphia, continuing as its editor and proprietor during five years. Soon afterward his health failed entirely. Fairfield excelled as an instructor in history and literature. He had more than the ambition of a Southey for writing epics, and was equally unfortunate in finding few readers and no admirers. He stoutly maintained that Bulwer-Lytton had taken thoughts and subject matter from him in the construction of his " Last Days of Pompeii." Fairfield's published volumes include "Lays of Melpomene" (New York, 1824); "The Sisters of St. Clara" (1827); "Cities of the Plain "(1828); "Heir of the World "(1828); "Abaddon, the Spirit of Destruction" (1830): "The Last Night of Pompeii" (New York, 1832), "Poems and Prose Writings" (Philadelphia, 1840); and ', Select Poems" (1860).
His wife, Jane Frazee, published her husband's "Life," including a few of his poems (1846). Their eldest daughter, Genevieve Genevra, has written several volumes of miscellaneous literature.
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