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Painter / Poet / Photographer

Born: 15 September 1846, Columbia, Pennsylvania USA

Died: 16 July 1921, Columbia, Pennsylvania USA

Lloyd Mifflin, artist of landscape and portraiture, was also “America’s greatest sonneteer.” He was born and lived much of his life in Columbia, Lancaster County, Pennsylvania where he was free to wander the banks of the Susquehanna River and its tributaries.

His father, J. Huston Mifflin, of English Quaker descent, was Lloyd’s first teacher in drawing and sketching. His mother, Elizabeth A. Heise, came from German heritage. She was born in Columbia and died when Lloyd was very young. His father, a kind and patient man, noted that Lloyd was a rather weak child and provided equestrian and water sports to improve his health.

Lloyd was taught in the public schools in Columbia, including the Washington Classical Institute. At the age of 14, Lloyd undertook drawing and sketching with his father. He also had Thomas Moran as an instructor in painting and worked with Isaac Williams of Philadelphia for a short time. In 1869, he traveled to Europe where he studied with Henry Herzog at Dusseldorf, Germany. His adventures also took him to Italy, France, England, and Scotland.


Mifflin turned to poetry at the age of 51. According to what he wrote in The Hills, his first volume of poetry (1896), he claimed that the fumes of the paint made him sick.

He devoted his greatest efforts to the category of the sonnet, considering it the most distinguished and exalted of all forms of English poetry. He enjoyed the structure, the metrical and rhythmic beauty, the plan of metrical rhyme and diction. Mifflin found it much like a musical composition. Sonnets bipartite in structure, usually have a combination of eight lines, followed by six. The rhyme schemes and diction, include many metaphors and an extensive vocabulary.

Mifflin's personal ambition was to excel; he wanted to write the perfect sonnet. Like the classical Greeks, he hoped his poetry would obtain immortality. Mifflin thought the world had largely ignored him, even though his poetry received high praise. At his life’s end, he changed his opinion and credited his readers with more accolades than he had earlier thought. Perhaps he was too hard on himself. Lloyd Mifflin carried the name “Hermit of the hills” who walked the ‘world as one entranced’ and ‘in life’s turbid wave’, dropped ‘ the crown jewel of his melody.’”

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E. Hershey Sneath. 'America’s Greatest Sonneteer.' The Clover Press (Geo. D. Hall): Columbia, PA.,1928.

Lloyd posing with a few of his beloved horses at Norwood

The Mifflin Home at 2nd & Walnut Streets, Columbia

Norwood, two miles from the Columbia home

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