From Portland to Cambridge

HWL.  "Mr. Peter Piper sees a whale," and "Mr. Peter Piper takes a ride on the whale," from Peter Piper.  Autograph manuscript,  ca. 1860.


Longfellow Papers MS Am 1340 9.1. Houghton Library.

Two drawings from a pictorial narrative Longfellow produced for his children. The protagonist, of tongue-twister fame, is a dapper, polyglot traveler who looks like a carrot-nosed snowman in boots and takes all the risks his creator would usually avoid. Peter Piper's adventures were, according to Alice Longfellow, "a constant source of delight" to her and her siblings.

Longfellow kept the little drawings in the drawer of one of his bookcases. New installments would appear there "from time to time," as Alice recalled, "and we never knew what the wonderful Peter Piper would do next. He went traveling, with adventures in foreign lands; he went hunting, and fell from his horse; he went to sea, and was chased by a shark, and rode on a whale, and went down in a diving-bell, and all the possibilities of life were before him."