Key, Francis Scott (1779 - 1843)

Index to poems

Biography: 

Francis Scott Key was born in Frederick, Maryland, on August 1, 1779, and after an education at St. John's College, Annapolis, he worked as an attorney, first in his home town, and then in Georgetown, in Washington, D.C. In 1814 the British seized Dr. William Beanes in retreat from Washington, and Key was dispatched to arrange his release. This accomplished, Key spent the night of September 13-14 on an American ship as the British shelled Baltimore. In "The Star-Spangled Banner," written on an envelope as he was taken ashore and revised in his hotel after night fell, Key recorded his feelings when dawn broke and the American flag still flew. His sister-in-law, Mrs. Joseph Hopper Nicholson, took it to a printer the next day. After being published on handbills, the anthem was printed in the Baltimore American on September 21. The manuscript fair copy now rests in the Walters Gallery in Baltimore: see P. H. Magruder, "The Original Manuscript of the Final Text of the `Star-Spangled Banner,'" Proceedings of the United State Naval Institute (June 1927). This poem was not Key's only effort; his Poems were posthumously published in 1857. Married to Mary Tayloe Lloyd in 1802, Key had 11 children. He died on January 11, 1843, and was buried in Mt. Olivet Cemetery in Frederick.

Given Name: 
Francis Scott
Family Name: 
Key
Birth Date: 
August 1, 1779
Death Date: 
January 11, 1843
Nationality: 
Literary Period: 
Literary Movement: 
Cause of Death: