A nineteenth-century American poet, novelist, and editor, he is best known for The Story of a Bad Boy and An Old Town by the Sea. The former work may have inspired Mark Twain's famous novel, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.
At the age of sixteen, he began working for his uncle's New York business. He later edited Ticknor and Fields, a popular Boston-based publication.
He edited the Atlantic Monthly during the 1880s and 1890s.
He grew up in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. He later married and had two sons.
He was friends with poet Walt Whitman.