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Eugene Field

1850-1895

American writer

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Eugene Field

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 
Eugene Field, Sr.

Eugene Field
Born September 2, 1850
St. Louis, Missouri
Died November 4, 1895 (aged 45)
Chicago, Illinois
Occupation American writer
Children Eugene Field, Jr.

Eugene Field, Sr. (September 2, 1850 – November 4, 1895) was an American writer, best known for his children's poetry and humorous essays.

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 Biography

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, Massachusetts.[1]

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 the St. 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 himself.

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. Joseph, Missouri.

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 Denver Tribune.[2]

In 1883 Field moved to Chicago where he wrote a humorous newspaper column called Sharps and Flats for the Chicago Daily News.[3] His home in Chicago was near the intersection of N. Clarendon and W. Hutchinson in the neighborhood now known as Buena Park.[4]

He first started publishing poetry in 1879, when his poem "Christmas Treasures" appeared in A Little Book of Western Verse.[5] 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."

The Dinky Bird by Maxfield Parrish, an illustration from Poems of Childhood by Eugene Field

Field died in Chicago at the age of 45. He is buried at the Church of the Holy Comforter in Kenilworth, Illinois.[6] His 1901 biography by S. Thompson states that he was originally buried in Graceland Cemetery in Chicago[7], but his son-in-law, Senior Warden of the Church of the Holy Comforter, had him reinterred on March 7, 1926.[8]


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