Elizabeth Shaw Craigie


Elizabeth Shaw Craigie (1771 – 1841)

Elizabeth Shaw Craigie, called Betsy by her friends. A Reverend’s daughter from Nantucket, she married Andrew Craigie, America’s first Apothecary General. They lived at Craigie Mansion on Brattle St, which eventually became known as the Longfellow house (the last stop on the full tour). The pair were famous for their gatherings of the who’s who of society. Their gardens included both a greenhouse and an ice house, and were the spot for hosting dances and parties.

Mr. Craigie, however, was not the wisest of investors and their finances rapidly declined, along with his mental health. When he died, he left Betsy with numerous debts and no will. She made her way by renting out rooms in her beloved house. Her most famous guest was Henry Longfellow, whom at first she took to be a Harvard student and turned him away. She only agreed to rent him a room after he managed to convince her he was in fact a professor at Harvard, in addition to the author of the book she had been reading that afternoon.

In old age, she was known as an eccentric, wearing a turban and defending the worms that were eating her beautiful trees. Come and see what stories she has hidden in her house.

Cambridge Historical Tours Recommends:

Evangeline and Selected Tales and Poems
by Henry Wadsworth LongfellowThe writings of the most admired American poet of the 19th century.Buy at Harvard Book Store>> 

The Dante Club

by Matthew Pearl

Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, and some of America’s greatest literary lights team up to solve a series of grisly murders in 19th century Boston in this entertaining piece of historical fiction.

Buy at Harvard Book Store>>