THE HAMLIN GARLAND COLLECTION
In 1904, President Theodore Roosevelt wrote his friend Hamlin Garland that he could not
invite President Diaz of Mexico or any other foreign rulers to the White House, for "We have been bedeviled to invite all
kinds of kings" and "we have politely but firmly declined in each case.
As a matter of fact, a democratic government like ours is not suited
to extend hospitality to kings and the like." George Bernard Shaw, on
a world cruise in 1933, wrote from the "Empress of Britain" that he
had stayed with William Randolph Hearst at San Simeon "with a host of
young sirens from the studios...The Labour people were amazed and disgusted
by such levity, but I was quite satisfied with this disposal of my time."
He concludes by presenting his compliments to the Garland family, then
residing in Hollywood, trusting that "their characters have not suffered
by their present location."
These and more than 8000 other pieces of correspondence, largely unpublished, are part of the Hamlin Garland
Collection kept in Rare Books & Manuscripts at the University of Southern California's Doheny Memorial Library. The Garland papers came to USC in 1940-41 by arrangement with
Mrs. Garland and his two daughters. Supplementary materials were contributed by Profs. Donald Pizer (Tulane Univ.) and Mark Rocha (CSU Humboldt). Organization of the collection
was carried out (1950-55) by Prof. Bruce McElderry (USC), and the original finding aid (1962)
is the work of Lloyd Arvidson (USC Library). The letters include many from such famous correspondents as James M. Barrie,
Joseph Conrad, Thomas Hardy, and A. A. Milne of England, and from Americans such as Walt Whitman, William Dean Howells,
Stephen Crane, Gertrude Atherton, and Willa Cather.
in the collection are nearly eight
hundred manuscripts of Garland's writings,
dozens of his literary notebooks, many hundreds of photographs and other
memorabilia, and Garland's personal library. Many of the items in the collection are surprising. For example, there are
sheets of then-fashionable spirit-writing and the transcripts of seances in which Garland participated. Then there
is a hand-written translation of Salvatore Farina's play "Il Signor Io"
made by Garland's best friend, Henry Blake Fuller.
There is also a 100-page fragmentary dramatization by William Dean Howells of his novel A Hazard of New Fortunes,
which was later published from this text in Howells's
Complete Plays at New York University Press.
the collection trace the story of
Garland's life: the well-worn slate he carried to school as a small boy in Wisconsin and Iowa in the 1870's,
pictures and autographs of schoolmates and the 1881 graduation program of the Cedar Valley Seminary of Osage, Iowa
(Garland debated the question, "Should the Negro exodus be encouraged?"); the ledger-type notebooks in which he copied
out passages from Paine's History of English Literature while holding down
a homestead claim in the Dakota Territory
during the blizzards of the winter
1883-84. Then the evidences of his brash assaults on America's center of
Boston, in 1884: first notes from his time of intensive study
in the Boston Public Library,
then clippings of his first writings and
announcements of lectures, with the manuscripts of the lectures themselves.
Programs and announcements indicate Garland's leading role in founding
an independent, naturalistic theater in 1891-92
with James A. Herne, while
further notebooks record his interviews with Civil War veterans during
the preparations of his
biography, The Life of U.S. Grant. Itineraries
and speech outlines tell of his campaign on behalf of Henry George and
his Single Tax movement. Book contracts and manuscripts indicate Garland's
rise as one of America's foremost authors:
his famous Main-Travelled Roads,
the first naturalistic treatment of farm life in America, was published
in 1891 and
was quickly followed up by more novels and stories in the same vein.
In the early 1930s, the Garlands built a home near Hollywood
and lived there until the
author's death in 1940. USC has the manuscript of his last, unpublished volume of memoirs
The Fortunate Exiles, and a copy of the 1940 Venice High
School yearbook, Argonaut, with its posthumous tribute to the famous writer,
who had died that spring.
Lloyd Arvidson, indexer and cataloger of the Garland Collection, from
the Library Staff Bulletin, March 15, 1960.
(1860-1940), an author who put his own part of the country on the literary
map, is best remembered by the title he gave his autobiography, Son of
the Middle Border. Gaining his spurs with a successful collection of grimly
naturalistic 'down home' stories in 1891, Garland came to prominence just
as the "frontier" mentality was losing out to the waves of settlement in
California and the West. Garland, however, looked to his roots in Wisconsin
and the Upper Midwest, urging the idea that this, too, had been borderland
in his own lifetime.
In later years
Garland wrote extensively about Indian affairs, conservation, art, and
literary trends; he also expanded his geographic range to include romances
of the Far West, yet it was his reminiscences of his early years which
stamped him in the public mind, and to which he turned again and again
Such was Garland's
prestige after election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters
in 1918, and after winning the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 1921,
that he acceded to the unofficial title of "Dean of American Letters"
at a time (the age of Hemingway, O'Neill, Faulkner, Dos Passos, Fitzgerald)
when his own writing was growing conspicuously out of date. In his later
years, Garland moved to Los Angeles, residing on DeMille Drive in Hollywood.
He lectured at USC in the mid-1930s; and his personal library along
with some 8000 letters from fellow writers, publishers, and admirers
came to USC after Garland's death, forming the cornerstone of the American
Additional background material by John Ahouse