Nathaniel Parker Willis,
Mathew Brady Studio
Imperial salted-paper print, c.1857
National Portrait Gallery
Magazine editor, journalist, and talented essayist, Nathaniel Parker Willis brought a rare, modern sensibility to his reports on contemporary life. From 1829, when he founded the New York Mirror, until his death in 1867, Willis worked continually as an editor and journalist. Flamboyant, vain, and ambitious, he was a controversial figure in New York society, scorned by lawyer George Templeton Strong and hated by his own sister, Sarah Willis Parton, the best-selling author known as Fanny Fern. But Walt Whitman called Willis a "good natured bright fellow," while remembering his vanity, which made him "the horror of photographers." Willis wrote often about Brady's New York gallery for his Home Journal. He posed for this Imperial photograph in New York in the late 1850s.
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