Lafcadio Hearn

Born: June 27, 1850
Died: September 26, 1904

Ohio connection: Resident


Lafcadio Hearn, son of Charles Bush and Rosa Tessima Hearn, was born in 1850 in Leukas, Greece. He had a very unsettled childhood with his parents divorcing when he was six and his mother dying in a mental institution some time later. He was then raised by his great-aunt in Ireland who sent him to Jesuit schools in Normandy and England. During this time, he acquired a life-long disdain for the Catholic faith and religion in general but developed a fascination with superstition and the occult.

Another experience that had a great effect on Hearn was the loss of vision in his left eye due to a schoolyard accident. The resulting enlargement of his right eye caused him to regard himself as disfigured.

He attended St. Cuthbert`s College in Durham, England, in the 1860s. After a series of personal and financial setbacks, Hearn moved to the United States at the age of nineteen, settling in New York. After an unstable two years, he moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, where he became a proofreader in 1871. Later that year, he became a feature writer for the Cincinnati Enquirer, a position he held until 1877. He then moved to New Orleans, where he worked for the New Orleans Item as a columnist, book reviewer, and translator/compiler, 1878-89. After a brief time with Harper’s magazine, he moved to Japan where he lectured in various schools and then became professor of English and comparative literature at the Imperial University of Tokyo, from 1895 until his death in 1904.

He married Setsuko Koizumi in 1891, and they had three sons. Hearn then changed his name to Yakumo Koizumi.

He was a prolific writer, publishing more than twenty books during his lifetime with more than fifty being published after his death. His works included articles, letters, essays, stories, poetry, and historical and cultural works, many dealing with the geography and people of Japan. Some of his most famous titles are Glimpses of Unfamiliar JapanOut of the EastKokoroGleanings in Buddha FieldsExotics and RetrospectivesIn Ghostly JapanShadowings, and Kwaidan.

Hearn died of heart failure September 26, 1904.

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