Snow-bound: a Winter Idyl is Featured Book for December 2013

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Cover of Snow-Bound: A Winter Idyl.

Snow-bound: a winter idyl by American poet John Greenleaf Whittier is the Special Collections featured book for December 2013. Snow-bound is a long narrative poem Which takes place in what is today known as the John Greenleaf Whittier Homestead, which still stands in Haverhill, Massachusetts. The poem chronicles a rural New England family as a snowstorm rages outside for three days. Stuck in their home for a week, the family members exchange stories by their roaring fire.

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Engraving of John Greenleaf Whittier done by H.W. Smith from a photograph by Hawes.

Whittier began the poem originally as a personal gift to his niece Elizabeth as a method of remembering the family. Nevertheless, he told publisher James Thomas Fields about it, referring to it as “a homely picture of old New England homes”.  Snow-Bound was first published as a book-length poem on February 17, 1866 and was, to Whittier’s surprise, financially successful. By the summer after its first publication, sales had reached 20,000, earning Whittier royalties of ten cents per copy. He ultimately collected $10,000 for it. Its popularity also led to the home depicted in the poem being preserved as a museum in 1892. 

The 1866 edition of Snow-Bound is housed in the Binghamton University Libraries Special Collections located on the second floor of the Bartle Library (off of the North Reading Room).

The Whittier homestead where Snow-Bound takes place is today preserved as it stands today.

The Whittier homestead where Snow-Bound takes place is today preserved as it stands today.

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