Poets

Michael Wigglesworth

Michael Wigglesworth was born on October 18, 1631 in Yorkshire, England, the son of Edward Wigglesworth and Ester Middlebrook. In 1638, the family moved to America, New England to join the growing community of Puritans. Michael studied at the new University of Harvard where he graduated in 1651. He taught until 1654 and then he became a minister in Malden, Massachusetts. He was ordained in 1656. As a Puritan preacher he struggled with the thought that he could do everything but actually preach. He wrote several times in his journals about his feelings of inferiority. He confused and disappointed his congregation. The congregation appointed a replacement for him, however, this man stole funds from the Church. Wigglesworth was then reinstalled as the minister and was invited to preach. In 1663, Michael Wigglesworth studied medicine. He became a doctor whilst remaining active as a preacher. In addition he was a poet; something which gave him a great deal of joy.

Michael Wigglesworth died on June 10, in Malden 1705. On his gravestone was written that this man "was a doctor of the soul and the body". He was married three times. First to his cousin Mary Reyner, and then after her death to Martha Mudge and finally after her death to Sybil (Avery) Spearhawk.

He published "The Day of Doom" in 1662, the book that we show here. This book was a poetic description of "the great and last judgment". The book was the first bestseller in America, and had no less than 10 editions.

 

 

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