Edward Estlin Cummings was born on October 14, 1894 in Cambridge, Massachussets, United States. He was the son of the Reverend Edward Cummings, a Unitarian minister, and Rebecca Haswell Clarke. His father taught sociology at Harvard and in 1900 became minister of the South Congregational Church in Boston. His idealism had a formative effect on Cummings, who wrote: "My father gave me Plato's metaphor of the cave with my mother's milk. " The family lived in a large and pleasant house in Cambridge. As a child, Cummings read and told stories enthusiastically and wrote poetry. Josiah Royce, a neighbor, introduced him to the sonnet. Following the example of his father, Cummings also drew, and eventually considered himself a painter as well as a poet.