Literary Lowell: A Bibliography

Lowell Walkers meet Lucy Larcom at her namesake park.

This past Saturday, Sean Thibodeau, the Coordinator of Community Planning at the Pollard Memorial Library, led a Lowell Walk on Literary Lowell. Sean told some great stories about writers who were from Lowell, visited Lowell, or wrote about Lowell. Throughout the tour, participants asked for a list of the works cited by Sean in his talk. Sean has provided me with such a list, which he calls “An inexhaustive, highlighted list of some literary persons who are from, wrote about, taught in or visited or lectured in Lowell, Massachusetts.”

While we celebrate many things about Lowell’s past – industrial ingenuity, ethnic heritages, the arts – we sometimes give only a quick glace to the writers. They deserve more attention. There are many ways that might be done, but I’ll start here by sharing some of the information from Sean’s list. It contains many names but undoubtedly more should be added. Please help by sharing names and works that should be included on the list:

19th Century Literature

Charles Dickens, American Notes for General Circulation. 1842 (includes a chapter describing his visit to Lowell in which he wrote “even the dirt looked new”).

Edgar Allen Poe, For Annie. 1848 (poem about Nancy Richmond).

Lucy Larcom, Weaving. 1862 (poem); An Idyl of Work. 1875; A New England Girlhood. 1889.

John Greenleaf Whittier, Stranger in Lowell. 1845.

Harriet Hanson Robinson, Loom & Spindle or Life Among the Early Mill Girls. 1898.

Lowell Offering. 1840-1845.

New England Offering. 1848-1850.

Sarah Bagley. Voice of Industry – Lowell Female Labor Reform Association.

Historical Fiction

Kate Alcott. The Daring Ladies of Lowell. 2014

Elizabeth Graver. Unravelling. 1997.

Tracie Peterson. Bells of Lowell Series. 2003. Lights of Lowell Series. 2004-2005.

Judith Rossner. Emmeline. 1980.

Tracy Winn. Mrs. Somebody Somebody. 2010.

Nancy Zaroulis. The Poe Papers. 1997. Call the Darkness Light. 1993.

Contemporary Fiction

Jack Kerouac. The Town and the City, 1950; Doctor Sax, 1959; Maggie Cassidy, 1959; Vanity of Duluoz, 1968; Visions of Gerard, 1963; Atop an Underwood: Early Stories and Other Writings, ed. By Paul Marion, 1999; The Haunted Life and Other Writings, ed. By Todd Tietchen, 2014.

  1. F. Dacey. Long Way Home. 2005.

Judith Dickerman-Nelson. Believe in Me. 2012.

Stephen O’Connor. Smokestack Lighting, 2010; The Spy in the City of Books, 2011; The Witch at Rivermouth, 2015.

David Robinson. Sweeney On-the-Fringe. 2007.


Mark Arsenault. Eddie Bourque series, 2003-2005.

David Daniel. Alex Rasmussen Quartet. 1994-2005.


Richard Farrell. What’s Left of Us. 2009.

Paul Tsongas. Heading Home. 1992.

Bob Halloran. Irish Thunder: The Hard Life and Times of Micky Ward. 2010.

Contemporary Poetry

Michael Casey. Obscenities, 1979. Millrat, 1999.

Maggie Dietz. Perennial Fall, 2006.

Joseph Donahue. Incidental Eclipse, 2003.

Kate Hanson Foster. Mid Drift. 2011.

Ryan Gallagher. Plum Smash and Other Flashbulbs. 2005.

Paul Marion. What is the City? 2006.

Matt Miller. Cameo Diner. 2005.

Tom Sexton. Bridge Street at Dusk. 2005.


Young Angel Midnight – Bootstrap Press

Spirits Dancing Into Light – Loom Press

River Muse – Sons of Liberty

Some Other Notable Literary Visitors

  • John Quincy Adams
  • Maya Angelou
  • Chris Bohjalian
  • Julia Child
  • Gregory Corso
  • Robert Creeley
  • Andre Dubus II
  • Andre Dubus III
  • Bob Dylan
  • Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Martin Espada
  • Lawrence Ferlinghetti
  • Allen Ginsberg
  • Louise Gluck
  • Linda Greenlaw
  • Nathaniel Hawthorne
  • Joyce Johnson
  • Stephen King
  • Dennis Lehane
  • Michael McClure
  • Ben Mezrich
  • Nathaniel Philbrick
  • Robert Pinsky
  • Ed Sanders
  • Anne Sexton
  • Charles Simic
  • Patti Smith
  • Henry David Thoreau
  • Anthony Trollope
  • Anne Waldman
  • John Updike

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