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Born in Martins Ferry, Ohio, originally Martinsville, to William Cooper and Mary Dean Howells, Howells was the second of eight children. His father was a newspaper editor and printer, and moved frequently around Ohio. Howells began to help his father with typesetting and printing work at an early age. During 1852, his father arranged to have one of Howells' poems published in the Ohio State Journal without telling him. During 1856, Howells was elected as a Clerk in the State House of Representatives. During 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. During 1860, he visited Boston and met with American writers James Thomas Fields, James Russell Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Said to be rewarded for a biography of Abraham Lincoln used during the election of 1860, he gained a consulship in Venice. On Christmas Eve 1862, he married Elinor Mead at the American embassy in Paris. Among their children was the future architect John Mead Howells. Upon returning to the U.S., Howells wrote for various magazines, including Atlantic Monthly and Harper's Magazine. From 1866, he became an assistant editor for the Atlantic Monthly and was made editor in 1871, remaining in the position until 1881. During 1869, he first met Mark ..

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