Born in Portland, Maine, January 20, 1806, died at his country home, Idlewild, Cornwall-on-the-Hudson, January 20, 1867. His chief works are: Melanie, Lady Jane and other poems; Pencillings by the Way; Inklings of Adventure; Romance of Travel, comprising Tales of Five Lands; People I Have Met, or Pictures of Society and People of Mark; A Health Trip to the Tropics; Out of Doors at Idlewild; Paul Fane, or Parts of a life else Untold, a Novel. Edgar Allen Poe, in a review of the literary work of N. P. Willis said: “As a writer of `sketches’ properly so called, Mr. Willis is unequaled. Sketches especially of society, are his forte, and they are so for no other reason than that they afford him the best opportunity of introducing the personal Willis or more distinctly because this species of composition is most susceptible of impression from his personal character.”
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Among his short poems, perhaps the most popular are “May” and “The Belfry Pigeon.”