Born in rural Maine where he spent most of his life, William Symonds attended Bowdoin College and then Harvard’s Divinity School in 1855. Fellow Pfaffian William Winter published Symonds’ collected works 46 years after his death, at a time when "[t]he literary reputation that he had acquired,-- not at any time extensive, though, within a limited circle, unquestionably brilliant,-- was, practically, forgotten" (Life and Writings 7).
The unofficial biographer of the Pfaff’s crowd, William Winter was born in coastal Massachusetts, and his mother died when he was young. Winter attended school in Boston; he also went to Harvard Law School but decided not to practice ("William Winter, 19). By 1854 he had already published a collection of verse and worked as a reviewer for the Boston Transcript; he befriended Pfaffian Thomas Bailey Aldrich after reviewing a volume of his poetry. He relocated to New York in 1856 "because he believed [the city] offered the best field for writers" (Levin 153).