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.
Of Thine Own Country Sing, 1856