Hoffman, Charles Fenno

Hoffman, Charles Fenno

(1806–84) writer, editor; born in New York City. He lost his right leg in an accident (c. 1817), studied law at Columbia (1821–24), became an avid sportsman, and made a long journey by horseback in the Northwest Territory (1833). He never seriously practiced law, but turned to editing and journalism, serving as the editor of several prominent magazines of the day. For several years in the 1840s he also held various U.S. government jobs in New York City. He wrote poetry, but is best known for Greyslaer: A Romance of the Mohawk (1839), a novel based on a Kentucky murder. It was reported that he became insane after a servant used his most recent manuscript to light the fires in his lodgings in New York City; in any case he was committed to the State Hospital, Harrisburg, Pa. (1850) and spent the rest of his life institutionalized.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.