Scope and Content note
This collection is composed of the single typed manuscript of Wilhelm Aarek's thesis, entitled "John Greenleaf Whittier: Some General Characteristics of his Poetry." The manuscript provides a brief history of early American literature and the influence of religion, though it chiefly provides a literary analysis of John Greenleaf Whittier's poetry, including various influences on his poetry, and its themes and subjects.
Wilhelm Aarek (1907-1999) was born into a Quaker family and joined the Society of Friends in 1935. He studied at Woodbrooke College in 1926-1927 and 1934. His master's thesis on John Greenleaf Whittier at the University of Oslo in 1936. Aarek taught in Egersund, Norway, Stavanger, Norway, and Kristiansand, Norway in 1938, where he was principal from 1948 until his retirement in 1977. During World War II, he studied and taught psychology in Stavanger, and served on several governmental committees on education. In 1977, Aarek was knighted for his work on teacher education in Norway.
Aarek was an active Quaker--he wrote for the Quaker periodical Kvekeren, and served as editor from 1963-1988. He gave lectures on Quakerism, including the 1854 Swarthmore Lecture at London Yearly Meeting. He was a clerk on the committee of clerks of the Society of Friends from 1963 to 1969 and was involved in several Norwegian peace and temperance organizations.
Aarek died in Norway, in 1999.
John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892) was born on December 17, 1807 in Haverhill, Mass., the son of Quakers John Whittier and Abigail Hussey Whittier. He was an American poet and editor, and his first published poem, "The Exile's Departure" was printed in William Lloyd Garrison's Newburyport Free Press in 1826. He attended Haverhill Academy from 1827-1828. In addition to being a poet, Whittier was an involved abolitionist. He was a delegate to the Anti-Slavery Society in 1833, and a member of the State Legislature in 1835. Whittier founded the antislavery Liberty Party in 1840 and ran for Congress in 1842. In the mid-1850s he began to work for the formation of the Republican Party; he supported presidential candidacy of John C. Frémont in 1856.
Whittier published his first collection of poems in 1837, his first authorized collection in 1838, the collection "Snow Bound" was published in 1866, and in 1871, and he edited an edition of John Woolman's Journal.
John Greenleaf Whittier died on September 7, 1892 in Hampton Falls, N.H.