Born: 1819, Lex­ing­ton, Ken­tuc­ky.

Died: May 5, 1881, New York Ci­ty.

Buried: Cy­press Hills Ce­me­te­ry, Brook­lyn, New York.



William was the son of a Pres­by­ter­ian min­is­ter, who died when Will­iam was still an in­fant. He mar­ried twice, to Ann Pol­he­mus Rik­er and Sar­ah M. Web­ster.

William was edu­cat­ed at In­di­ana Uni­ver­si­ty and Ha­no­ver Col­lege, In­di­ana, and stu­died law in Lex­ing­ton, Ken­tuc­ky. In 1841, he moved to New York Ci­ty, where he prac­ticed law and en­gaged in li­ter­ary pur­suits.

Wallace’s first work that at­tract­ed fav­or­a­ble cri­ti­cism, a po­em titled Per­di­ta, pub­lished in the Un­ion Ma­ga­zine, was fol­lowed by Al­ban (1848), a po­et­ic­al ro­mance, and Me­di­ta­tions in Am­er­ica (1851).

His most fa­mous po­em, prais­ing mo­ther­hood, was The Hand That Rocks The Cra­dle Is the Hand That Rules The World (1865). Wall­ace con­trib­ut­ed to Go­dey’s Lady’s Book, Har­per’s Ma­ga­zine, Har­per’s Week­ly, the New York Led­ger, and the Lou­is­ville Dai­ly Jour­nal.

William Cull­en Bry­ant said of his writ­ings: They are marked by a splen­dor of im­ag­in­a­tion and an af­flu­ence of dic­tion which show him the born po­et. Edgar All­an Poe, a friend of Wall­ace’s, re­ferred to him as one of the ve­ry nob­lest of Am­er­ican po­ets.

Wallace died at his home in New York Ci­ty a week af­ter suf­fer­ing a stroke. He was work­ing on a book to be ti­tled Plea­sures of the Beau­ti­ful at the time of his death.