From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Eugene Field, Sr. (September
2, 1850 – November 4, 1895) was an American
writer, best known for his children's
poetry and humorous essays.
Field was born in St.
Louis, Missouri. After the death of his mother in 1856, he was raised by a
cousin, Mary Field French, in Amherst,
Field's father, attorney Martin Field, was famous for his representation of
Dred Scott, the slave who sued for his freedom. Field filed the complaint in
this famous case (Dred Scott vs. John Sandford [sic], referred to as the
lawsuit that started the Civil War) on behalf of Scott in the federal court in
St. Louis, Missouri.
Field attended Williams
College in Williamstown,
Massachusetts. His father, Martin Field, died when Eugene was 19, and he
subsequently dropped out of Williams after eight months. Next he went to Knox
College in Galesburg,
Illinois, but dropped out after a year. Then he went to the University
of Missouri in Columbia,
Missouri, where his brother Roswell was also attending. He tried acting and
studied law with little success. He then set off for a trip through Europe but
returned to the United States six months later, penniless. Field then set to
work as a journalist for
Joseph Gazette in Saint
Joseph, Missouri, in 1875. That same year he married Julia Comstock, with
whom he had eight children. For the rest of his life he arranged for all the
money he earned to be sent to his wife, saying that he had no head for money
Field soon rose to become city editor of the Gazette.
He became known for his light, humorous articles written in a gossipy style,
some of which were reprinted by other newspapers around the country. It was
during this time that he wrote the famous poem Lovers
Lane about a street in St.
From 1876 through 1880 Field lived in St. Louis, first as an editorial writer
for the Morning Journal and
subsequently for the Times-Journal.
After a brief stint as managing editor of the Kansas
City Times, he worked for two years as editor of the
In 1883 Field moved to Chicago where
he wrote a humorous newspaper column
called Sharps and Flats for
Daily News. His
home in Chicago was near the intersection of N. Clarendon and W. Hutchinson in
the neighborhood now known as
He first started publishing poetry in
1879, when his poem "Christmas Treasures" appeared in A
Little Book of Western Verse. Over
a dozen volumes of poetry followed and he became well known for his
light-hearted poems for children, perhaps the most famous of which is "Wynken,
Blynken, and Nod." Field also published a number of short stories,
including "The Holy Cross" and "Daniel
and the Devil."
Field died in Chicago at the age of 45. He is buried at the Church of the Holy
Comforter in Kenilworth,
1901 biography by S. Thompson states that he was originally buried in
Graceland Cemetery in Chicago,
but his son-in-law, Senior Warden of the Church of the Holy Comforter, had him
reinterred on March 7, 1926.