John Greenleaf Whittier was born on December 17, 1807 in the southwest Parlor of the Whittier Homestead. He was the first son and second child of John and Abigail (Hussey) Whittier. He grew up on the farm in a household with his parents, a brother and two sisters, a maternal aunt and paternal uncle, and a constant flow of visitors and hired hands for the farm.
He attended the local school just up the hill and spent two semesters in the new Haverhill Academy. He was introduced by a teacher to the poetry of Robert burns, and began to versify. His first poem to be seen in print appeared in 1826 in the Newburyport Free Press, where the abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison was editor. Under Garrison's encouragement Whittier actively joined in the abolitionist cause and edited newspapers in Boston and Hartford, and was associated with the Atlantic Monthly Magazine from 1857 until death.
In 1831, he brought out a book of prose works, Legends of New England and the next year returned to his native town to run the farm after his father's death. In 1836, he moved to Amesbury. Until the Civil War he became increasingly involved in the abolitionist cause, serving in numerous capacities on the local, state and national levels. He was also involved in the formation of the Republican Party.
With the publication of "Snow-Bound" in 1866, Whittier finally enjoyed a relatively comfortable life from the profits of his published works. It is "Snow-Bound" for which he will always be best remembered as a poet. Nearly every volume of his verses published thereafter was truly a best seller. Whittier died on September 7, 1892 at a friend's home in Hampton Falls, NH, and was buried with the rest of his family in Amesbury.
His popularity continued into the next century, but has suffered since, as have most of the 19th century "Fireside Poet," but he is now being recognized anew for his abolitionist work, encouragement of female poets and writers and those poems of his which are truly great ones.
Biography from: http://www.haverhillpl.org/Departments/special/jgwhittier.htm