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_______________________Did you know??  

 

Eugene Field (1850-1895)

Eugene Field (1850-1895)

Eugene Field’s hyper-popularity and near-celebrity-status was considered a mystery to some and obvious to others?

Field, a wildly-popular American writer  – better known as:  “the people’s poet ” was a friend of Mark Twain, an avid reader, a doll and miniature book collector, a contemporary of fellow children’s author Roald Dhal, and “a bundle of great surprises!”  Field prided himself on his collection of writings from other children’s writers, often using them as a foundation, or a spring board, for his own original work.

At the height of his popularity, it was written in a local paper that Longfellow, Whittier, or Riely, “…all of whom can be defended as fluent, competent writers, Field (on the other hand) is often awkward and inconsistent veering into baby like talk, fake Middle English, unconvincing Hoosier dialect and school-boy latin. And yet, … he out sold Emily Dickinson, and his celebrity (status) as an eccentric sprite rivaled hers.”

Hannibal Hamlin Garland, (American poet, essayist, and friend) reiterated (and gave a possible explanation to) Field’s popularity during the unveiling and dedication of the Field House and Museum in St. Louis, MO.  He quoted Field by saying, “I (Field) have never put a high estimate on my verse.  That it popular is because my sympathies and the public’s just happen to run on parallel lines.”

Perhaps it was his prankish style, or perhaps, and more likely, Field had it right when he said “his sympathies and the public’s happened to run parallel lines.”  His writing were all post- industrialization when men (and women) were placed in narrow boxes and doctrine of the times ruled.  This, coupled with harsh school environment, further narrowed and stripped children’s innocence which undoubtedly fanned Field’s writing.  After all, it was said that Field’s work was known to have “blurred the boundary between childhood and adulthood” – thereby allowing children to keep their innocence (and power as children) while, at the same time, inviting adults to slip into a childlike stance and remember what it is like to be innocent again.  This was, perhaps, Field’s magic, and explanation, for his popularity.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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