A sturdy, busy multibiography of an eminent American family.
From the first forebear of means, Percival Lowle (the spelling of the name changed in the early 1720s) to the celebrated poet Amy Lowell, who died in 1925, Sankovitch (Signed, Sealed, Delivered: Celebrating the Joys of Letter Writing, 2014, etc.) traces this long-enduring, Anglo-Saxon Massachusetts family and its many sterling American achievements. The author moves chronologically, as the generations of Lowells flourished in parallel with American history, and she delineates her work by themes: Migration, Religion, Revolution, Acquisition, War, Reinvention. Throughout their history, community and duty undergirded the lives of these competent, strong-chinned folk; it was important “to exercise one’s own personal gifts—for the good of the community and for the approval of God.” Migrating to America to further his import/export business and to embrace a more “honest and simple life,” Percival was dedicated to assimilating and prospering. His great-grandson, the Rev. John Lowell, became a popular Puritan preacher who weathered the schism with Presbyterianism. Later, another John (there were many Johns through the years) moved to Boston and threw his support to the patriots during the American Revolution. In the mid-1800s, James “Jamie” Russell Lowell—whose brother had bankrupted the family mining business and whose uncle was a writer for truth and justice—would become one of the most famous of the clan, a fierce anti-slavery poet, influential during the era of the Civil War and noted for a distinctly American voice. Another branch of the family would beget notable siblings Amy, the wildly popular poet; another Percival, a groundbreaking astronomer in the late 1800s who founded the historic Lowell Observatory in Arizona; and Lawrence, who served as president of Harvard from 1909 to 1933. Reverends, poets, soldiers, scientists: generation after generation re-created the original Percival’s stalwart American vision.
Exhaustive work by a clear admirer and dogged researcher.