Called The Island Poet, Celia Thaxter grew up the daughter of a lighthouse keeper on the Isle of Shoals who later became a hotel keeper on Appledore Island. She married at the age of sixteen, moved to the outskirts of Boston, and bore three sons. But she felt misplaced in an urban environment, as she wrote in her first published poem, “Land-Locked (1861):”
O Earth! thy summer song of joy may soar
Ringing to heaven in triumph. I but crave
The sad, caressing murmur of the wave
That breaks in tender music on the shore.
Thaxter moved back to Appledore Island, in part to be with her mother, with whom she was close. When her mother became sick, she cared for her and ran the family’s resort hotel.
As a rising poet, Thaxter held salons at the Appledore Hotel, attracting luminaries of literature, art, and music, including Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Nathaniel Hawthorne, John Greenleaf Whittier, James and Annie Fields, Sarah Orne Jewett, and Childe Hassam.