William Dean Howells (March 1, 1837 – May 11, 1920) was an American realist author and literary critic. He was known for the Christmas story "Christmas Every Day" and the novel The Rise of Silas Lapham.
Born in Martins Ferry, Ohio, originally Martinsville, to William Cooper and Mary Dean Howells, Howells was the second of eight children. His father was a newspaper editor and printer, and moved frequently around Ohio. Howells began to help his father with typesetting and printing work at an early age. In 1852 his father arranged to have one of Howells' poems published in the Ohio State Journal without telling him.
In 1856 Howells was elected as a Clerk in the State House of Representatives. In 1858 he began to work at the Ohio State Journal where he wrote poetry, short stories, and also translated pieces from French, Spanish, and German. He avidly studied German and other languages and was greatly interested in Heinrich Heine. In 1860 he visited Boston and met with American writers James Thomas Fields, James Russell Lowell, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Nathaniel Hawthorne, Henry David Thoreau, and Ralph Waldo Emerson. Through these contacts, he also became a personal friend to many other writers, including Henry Adams, William James, Henry James and Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr..