Born in Salem in Massachusetts, poet and writer Jones Very was born into a free thinking family and because of his sea faring father had a life time love of the ocean. His father used to take Very on sea trips, first to Russia and then New Orleans but unfortunately he died on one of the return journeys after catching a disease of the lungs.
At the age of 14 Very was no longer attending school but helping his mother with the upkeep of the family after the death of his father. To earn money he worked as an assistant at a local school and there came into contact with the writings of variety of philosophers, authors and poets. Habitually shy, Very had an academic nature and thirst for knowledge and often preferred his own company to that of others. He became interested in writing and composed his first poem during this time.
Influenced by the likes of Byron and Goethe, Very earned a place at Harvard College and developed a greater ambition to be a poet himself. Whilst he worked at his studies he would also write poems and managed to get a few published in the local newspaper. After his graduation, where he was near top of the class, Very went on to the divinity school at Harvard but failed to complete his degree.
Very became good at talking about literature and this led him to come into contact with other writers such as Ralph Waldo Emerson who encouraged him to give a talk in Concord, Massachusetts. To deliver his lecture, Very walked the 20 miles to the hall in Concord and was rewarded by being asked to dinner with Emerson. Through his friendship with the poet Very also got to meet the likes of Thoreau and Hawthorne and an eventual introduction to the Transcendental Club.
Unfortunately, throughout his life Very suffered from mental health problems and would probably have been diagnosed with a bipolar disorder if he had been living today. He was known for his eccentricities especially with his students whom he taught in Salem and exhibited some bizarre behaviors which included one rule where he would not engage in conversation with any woman.
During one of his more manic phases, Very found himself in a Boston hospital where he continued to give lectures to the other inmates. He found, on his release, more help from Emerson who seemed to view him as a kind of kindred spirit. He gave the help the developing poet needed in order to publish a collection of poetry but Very was disappointed when Emerson started to edit his verses too vigorously.
Because of his manic nature, Very often found it difficult to write and is still not considered one of the most prominent poets of the 19th Century in America. With more problems in relation to his mental health he became reclusive, living with his sister and he did little in the way of writing or anything else of note. He would survive another 40 years and finally died in 1880 at the age of 66.