William Dean Howells ( March 1, 1837 - May 11, 1920) was an American realist novelist, literary critic, and playwright. Nicknamed "The Dean of American Letters," he was particularly known for his tenure as editor of The Atlantic Monthly as well as his own prolific writings, including the Christmas story "Christmas Every Day," and the novels The Rise of Silas Lapham and A Traveler from Altruria. Early life and family William Dean Howells was born on March 1, 1837, in Martinsville, Ohio (now known as Martins Ferry, Ohio), to William Cooper, and Mary Dean, Howells.He was the second of eight children. His father was a newspaper editor and printer, who moved frequently around Ohio. In 1840, the family settled in Hamilton, Ohio, where William Cooper Howells oversaw a Whig newspaper and followed Swedenborgianism;their nine years there marked the longest they would stay in one place.Though the family had to live frugally, the young Howells was encouraged by his parents in his literary interests.Howells began to help his father with typesetting and printing work at an early age, a job known at the time as a printer's devil. In 1852, his father arranged to have one of Howells' poems published in the Ohio State Journal without telling him. Early career In 1856, Howells was elected as a clerk in the State House of Representatives. In 1858 he began to work at the Ohio State Journal where he wrote poetry, short stories, and also translated pieces from French, Spanish, and German. He avidly studied German and other languages and was greatly interested in Heinrich Heine. In 1860 he visited Boston and met with other American writers James Thomas Fields, James Russell Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson, and became a personal friend to many, including Henry Adams, William James, Henry James and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr.Said to have been rewarded for an official biographyof Abraham Lincoln used during the election of 1860, he gained a consulship in Venice. On Christmas Eve 1862, at the American embassy in Paris, he married Elinor Mead, a sister of the sculptor Larkin Goldsmith Mead and the architect William Rutherford Mead, the Mead of McKim, Mead, and White. Among their children was the future architect John Mead Howells.