Eugene Field 2 September 1850 - 4 November 1895

Eugene Field, Sr. was an American writer, best known for his children's poetry and humorous essays.

Biography

Field was an unusual poet. He was one of the few poets who wrote only children's poetry. That is how he got his nickname, The Children's Poet.

It all started September 2, 1850, at 634 South Broadway in Saint Louis. That's where and when Eugene Field was born. He had one brother named Roswell, who was one year younger than he, and a sister who died soon after her birth. He and his brother were very close, but very different. Eugene took after their mother, Francis, while Roswell took after their father. Eugene was afraid of the dark while his brother wasn't afraid of anything. Eugene hated studying while Roswell loved it. When the boys were six and five, their mother died. Mr. Field sent them to live with their cousin, Mary French, in Massachusetts until he could take care of them. While living on their cousin's farm, Eugene wrote his first poem . He was nine then, and the poem was about their cousin's dog, Fido.

At the age of fifteen, Eugene was shipped off to a small private school in Massachusetts. There were only five boys in the school, and Eugene loved leading the boys in tricks against the master of the school.

Eugene went on to William's College in Massachusetts. Unfortunately, his father died when he was nineteen and he dropped out after eight months. Next he went to Knox College but dropped out of college after a year. Then he went to the University of Missouri, where his brother was also attending. While there, he met Julia Comstock, who was fourteen. When Julia turned sixteen, she and Eugene married. They had eight children. Two died as babies, another died as a little boy. The remaining five grew up and had long lives.

While married, Eugene had many jobs. He worked for many newspapers until the Chicago Daily News offered him a job. He wrote a humorous column called "Sharps and Flats". His home in Chicago was near the intersection of N. Clarendon and W. Hutchinson in the neighborhood now known as Buena Park.

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 of a heart attack at the age of 45. He is buried at the Church of the Holy Comforter in Kenilworth, Illinois. His 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

Legacy

Several of his poems were set to music with commercial success. Many of his works were accompanied by paintings from Maxfield Parrish. His former home in St. Louis is now a museum.A memorial to him, a statue of the "Dream Lady" from his poem "Rock-a-by-Lady", was erected in 1922 at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. There is also a park and fieldhouse named in his honor in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood. A statue of Wynken, Blynken and Nod adorns Washington Park, near Field's Denver home. In nearby Oak Park, Illinois, another park is named in his his honour.

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Quotes (1)

Mr. Clarke played the King all evening as though under constant fear that someone else was about to play the Ace.
Eugene Field (1850-1895), U.S. author, critic. Quoted in Alexander Woollcott, "Capsule Criticism," The Portable Woollcott (1946). Writing for the Denver Post, Field was referring to Creston Clarke's performance of King Lear in Denver, c. 1880.

Comments (10)

Age 18 year old
I recited this poem at the age of 3 and would like to print it out for my great grandchildren.
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