HAMLIN GARLAND COLLECTION
Tributes -- 1960
1960, with the centennial of his birth fast approaching, the University
of Southern California, as holder of the Garland papers, wrote to a number
of friends, fellow writers, scholars, and other associates of the late
Hamlin Garland, requesting "a paragraph or two" for publication in "a small
book of tributes and reminiscences." The commemorative booklet never appeared
in that form; but twenty-six testmonial statements were published instead
as part of Library Bulletin No. 9 in 1962, which also contained the "Checklist
of the Garland Papers" prepared by Lloyd Arvidson. The originals of these
letters are available in the Garland Collection.
from Burcote, Abingdon, England, August 21, 1960.
glad to write in the happy memory of Hamlin Garland, a most friendly, welcoming
and gifted man, whose books will keep through long years a record of the
profound leap forward of the Great West after the end of the Civil War.
CARROLL, of South Berwick, Maine. At Hollywood, California, January
He saw, and
took part in, the going westward of the young men, and his books record
one will always remember him with joy.
journal entry, printed with the author's permission.
like to describe him. I believe it is ordinarily done in memoirs, though
the personal appearance is surely a minor matter. Not tall, but broad;
dark-eyed with round face and fine nose and silver hair and moustache;
a grave and gentle bearing; a leonine elegance,--the lion's grace and strength,
his smooth purr, his mild manner which deceives no one.
VAN WYCK BROOKS,
from Bridgewater, Connecticut, September 8, 1960.
The effect of
his personality upon me was wonderfully stabilizing. After many days of
lonely bewilderment and confusion, I felt greatly reassured by my contact
with him, though nothing was said of all that was in my mind. Standards
were still standards. I had only to look at him to realize that here was
a figure, one of the permanent pieces, and I knew in general what philosophy
lay behind him and his career.
I came away
from him and back to Minneapolis with what I hope is a fixed conviction
that life is beautiful and important, and that whatever is written about
it should be equally so.
association with Hamlin Garland dates from his later years, when he was
living in or near New York, spending much of his time at Onteora in the
Catskills in "a roomy old house on a mountain top." I am quoting from one
of his letters to me, inviting me to stay with him, which, unfortunately,
I was unable to do. His apartment in uptown New York was occupied during
his absence there by his old friend Henry Blake Fuller. I often saw Fuller,
too, on visits from Chicago. He was a frequent contributor to The Freeman
which I was literary editor during those years. Fuller was a shy little
man with a great gift, a persistent writer with a charming style, who was
still at work at the time of his lonely death at seventy-two. In former
days, he had subtly satirized his old friend Hamlin Garland as Abner Joyce
in Under the Skylights. Abner Joyce, the author of This Weary
World, in whose work "the soil spoke, the intimate humble ground,"
was contrasted there with Adrian Bond, who stood for Fuller himself and
who was all for "European atmosphere" and "historical perspective."
LORD, from Sherman Oaks, California, October 9, 1960.
Those were the
former days when Hamlin Garland was at his best, in the collection of stories
called Main-Travelled Roads; and when I knew him he felt he had
gone beyond any illusions about his career. "Few are interested in me now,
and nobody will be interested in me tomorrow." But this must be an all
but universal feeling that authors have in their old age.
I was one of
the three younger men whom he cherished as good writers, the others being
Donald Culross Peattie and John Bradley, and I think he was mainly interested
in me for my books about New England, the old home that his family had
left for the West in 1848. He had a nostalgic feeling about New England
and especially about those whom he called the "Concord group." But he had
found that the age of seventy-five brought "a keener interest in the `Fourth
Dimension.' " He was involved in a story about some buried crosses in the
desert, a theme that was "essentially a psycho-archaeological one." It
made use of clairvoyance and greatly amused him at a time when he needed
He felt he was
writing, as he said, "with increasing regard to the relationship of my
words," and he poured out year by year a stream of autobiographical books
that had begun with his "Middle Border" series. Over that series he had
worked with great care, revising for the sixth time the Middle Border book
that he had published in 1917. These books were indispensable, historically
speaking, and quite on a level with his early stories, "Up the Coolly,"
"Among the Corn-Rows," "A Branch Road," and "Mrs. Ripley's Trip," in which
he had delivered his "message of acrid accusation." In those days he had
been a friend and disciple of Henry George, encouraging at the same time
Stephen Crane and reviewing Maggie. He had left a fine, permanent
record of the farm life of the eighteen-eighties, and he had conveyed a
feeling of the great beauty of the Dakota prairies and the Wisconsin coulees.
He may perhaps
have been disappointed in his old age at Hollywood, as virtually every
veteran author is, but he was certainly a cheery, hearty patriarch who
had no complaints whatever on the human level. In one of his last letters
to me, he wrote
you could see our desert flowers this week--miles and miles of lupine,
sand-verbenas, poppies and the like. Seas of purple and gold! When California
sets out to do a thing, she does it on the grand scale.
He had followed
many of his old neighbours from Iowa and Dakota who had moved on to the
Far West, and, delighting in the scene there himself, he died, I believe,
1896 to 1940, the year of his death, my father kept an intimate daily diary.
Reading it has been a poignant experience for an adoring daughter--to live
inside a man's heart and head through all those creative, tumultuous years.
How Father loved us, and how often we hurt him. How endearing his flaming
enthusiasm, his wholeheartedness. There was nothing halfway about Hamlin
Garland. He loved--and occasionally hated--with passion, and one of the
great loves of his life was, incontestably, the Mountain West. There he
took my mother on their honeymoon, and as a child, in my tenderest memories,
I am resting with my head against his big, hard shoulder, feeling my own
heart leap to the wistfulness in his voice as he sang "My heart's in the
Highlands, my heart is not here--"
2, 1898. Skagway, Alaska... As the time nears when I am to return to the
south and the tame and quiet, I feel a regret for the wild and lonely.
I look up the shining green and yellow and white slopes of the mountains
and they allure me still.
Time after time,
back in his native Wisconsin valley, the call of the high peaks became
19, 1902. West Salem. The days here, while peaceful, are deadly dull and
slow. I do not find stories here that seem worth my while. I must get out
to Colorado and bustle and beat myself against the hills for awhile. Here
all is fenced, owned, and made tame. There I can still feel myself on the
edge of things.
This was Hamlin
Garland the trailer, the romantic, and from him came the long series of
Rocky Mountain stories that it has pleased certain literary critics to
dismiss as "popular." Actually, they were one man's honest expression of
the inspiration and delight he found in the country that, despite the Middle
Border, was closest to his heart.
And there was
a slumbering unrest. I suspect that I can no longer be a novelist and nothing
more. I must be part of things in the city and in the nation.
the founding of the Cliff Dwellers in Chicago, the American Academy of
Arts and Letters in New York, the building up of the National Institute.
Hamlin Garland--organizer, encourager, unstinting giver of time and energy.
from Virum, Denmark, September 14, 1960.
In 1930, because
he could not face being separated from his children, Father "pulled up
stakes" in New York, left his fame, his friends, the literary stimulation
of the big city, and came to make his home near us in Southern California.
With him, he brought the same boyish enthusiasm that marked his life. He
read California history, covered thousands of miles, learned to love the
country, and named himself "the fortunate exile."
this land, its brightness and newness and freedom from winter, but I suffer
when I think of abandoning all that has hitherto meant so much to me. Surely,
we have found a place of rest for our old age--a glorious haven in a friendly
climate. How far away the Middle Border seems now....
There is a poem
he wrote which seems to me fitting here. There are many versions of it,
but my favorite is the one he wrote for me to recite when I was with him
on the lecture platform.
the good days of the trail,
I cannot lose
you, I will not.
Here in the
amber of my song I hold you,
Here where neither
time nor space can do you wrong.
I sweep you
together, the harvest of a continent,
The gold of
a thousand days of quest.
So when I am
old, like a caged eagle,
I will sit and
mountains, the gleam of rivers
And the glow
of sunset on the vanished plains....
Garland's work will endure, I believe. He lit his lantern from Walt Whitman's
torch, but what he revealed with it was the inexorable limitation of pioneer
life, its parched loneliness and its withering drudgery in the after-the-Civil-War
decades. The romanticism of the "Westerns" does not hold up against the
sober veracity of his frontier series, but what does hold up is his own
staunch radicalism, his fastidious and upright nature, and his hunger and
thirst for things of the spirit.
from San Francisco, August, 1960.
While he went
to Boston as a literary oasis, I feel that his true capital was Chicago.
He was in his forties when I met him there in 1904 or 1905, in the minor
oasis of the Little Room, a man of stately, fine-looking, aquiline aspect,
but in his eyes was the register of tough and costly struggle. I had read
of Dutcher's Coolly when I was about seventeen in Ireland, an enchanting
book, and we became friends when I told him so. He was far from self-importance.
Later on, in New York, he sought to befriend me.
he plumbed deeply, the native's Midwest that Lincoln had incarnated. Hamlin
Garland's work is instinct with it. He knew the rough and the smooth.
first letter of heartening encouragement and commendation I ever received
from a "real live" writer came from Hamlin Garland with a comment on a
story in the Atlantic in November, 1910. The story was called "What
Happened to Judy." It was my first published story; nobody had ever heard
my name. I was stunned with ecstasy. There is no second ecstasy like that.
He wrote three lines. "You have something precious. Dickens had it. Keep
DOYLE, from Van Nuys, California, October, 1960.
At that time
I was in a hospital with a baby who is one of San Francisco's good doctors
now. And in all the long years I have never seen the name of Hamlin Garland
without the sort of thought that is a prayer.
I met him only
once, stammered out some incoherencies--was cut off by a waiter with canapes.
But the gratitude, the love, and the prayers go on. Thanks for this chance
to express them!
of course, of the whole-hearted help and encouragement that my father gave
to young writers and artists. But what I think is most notable is that
it was given so ungrudgingly. There are not too many of us, I suspect,
who do not secretly envy the achievements of others. My father seemed to
be completely free of this envy. His admiration for ability and accomplishment
was genuine and fearless. The help and encouragement he gave to us, his
daughters, was given in the same free, enthusiastic spirit.
from Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, August 23, 1960.
I can hear his
voice now, "Just keep at it, Daughtie. You'll make out." Or, "Of course,
you can do it." And, with a chuckle, "You should! After all, a great deal
of time, trouble, AND expense has been put into you."
No venture we
made into the arts was ever thoughtlessly dismissed. When I finished an
unskilled but devoted piano performance of one of the MacDowell "Woodland
Sketches," his comment, "Do you know, I think it's quite remarkable the
way you get the feel of that," was both heartening and rewarding.
His was not simply fatuous praise. No one knew better than he the value
of work, of training, of application. Nor was it the urging of a frustrated
parent, bound that his child should succeed where he had failed. His was
the quiet assurance that ability and work are an unbeatable team.
A roaring subway
is scarcely the ideal place to impart confidence to a frightened school
girl. But Daddy did exactly that. My sister, thoroughly trained for the
stage and lecture platform, had been accompanying him on a series of "Middle
Border" programs. However, on this occasion, she was unable to leave the
"Cyrano" Company, and I was summoned from school to take her place. Daddy
sat besides me, entirely calm, as I studied the program material while
the grim station lights flashed past. At our destinaiton, he arose and
said cheerfully, "Here we are, daughter. Now it's up to you."
Not once had
he shown the slightest doubt of my ability, nor questioned my method of
approach, and when we walked out into the vast, darkened auditorium, his
quiet confidence was so reassuring that I had no difficulty in carrying
out my part. At the end, when we bowed together, he whispered jubilantly,
"We made it. We wowed 'em."
I cannot say
truthfully that we walked in side by side to the interview with Mr. Latham
at the Macmillan Company. Frankly, Father usually marched a bit ahead,
propelled, I suspect, by his own enthusiastic anticipation. But when we
emerged with a commission for me to illustrate Trail-Makers of the Middle
Border, I can say truthfully that he grasped me firmly by the arm and
hustled me toward the bus, saying, "We'll have to hump it, Daughtie. We
have a job to do!"
And so we did.
Sitting together at the dining room table in the chill New York dawn, braced
by his superb coffee, my sketches began to emerge. Any doubts I had were
swept away by his gleeful, "You're getting it! That's the ticket. Just
The phrase "Just
keep at it!" has brought me back to my easel many times when a difficult
problem almost had me down. "You'll make it!" These heartening words from
one who knew the problems of creative effort have been invaluable to me,
as well as to many others.
background for my Hamlin Garland anecdote, I chose the Catskills neighborhood
where the Garlands and the Lathams had their summer homes in the early
1920's. He and I had the same publisher, the Macmillan Company, whose chief
editor, Harold Latham, was one of his best friends, and mine.
from New York City, November 1, 1960.
Spending a week-end
with the Lathams, I remember particularly a luncheon where Zulime Garland
was holding forth on Hamlin's relation to his fan mail. According to her
version of that afternoon, a crest of appreciative letters was around five
a week. If there were more, Hamlin started complaining that readers of
books they liked did not commonly realize that showering an author with
letters would decrease both the quality and quantity of his future output,
for it took time and was distracting to have to compose responsive replies
to the kindliest effusions.
But, said Zulime,
if Hamlin's mail dropped below five complimentary letters a week, he began
to worry that his popularity was correspondingly dropping. So she had a
scheme. In times of appreciative flood, she would prevent his seeing a
few of the best letters, especially ones with some such vague date as "Tuesday,"
and feed these to Hamlin discreetly when gloom threatened to set in through
a dearth of fan mail.
You might also
tell that Hamlin and I used to put on an act about being fellow Iowans,
though neither of us was born there: he in Wisconsin and I in Manitoba.
And, to hear us tell it, we were also fellow Dakotans, each having been
there before his part of the Territory changed its name to South and mine
to North Dakota. From Iowa, we had both "gone East" to Boston. However,
that we saw so much of each other for some years was for other reasons.
Zulime was a Taft, and Lorado Taft, sculptor, was among the best friends
of my best friend, Carl Akeley, sculptor. Carl and I, with Joe (Herbert
J.) Spinden, had what were for us very large rooms on Central Park West
in New York, and we had a housekeeper. So the Garlands were in and out
of our house; we less so with them, for in that period, at least, Hamlin
was a steadier worker than most of the rest of us.
Both in New
York and the Catskills, we had many other friends in common. Among them
was Frank Chapman, curator of birds at the American Museum of Natural History,
on the staff of which Akeley, Spinden, and I also were. I remember vividly
Frank's laughter at lunch when Zulime was explaining to us that five-a-week
was the ideal for Hamlin's fan mail.
is tricky, of course, and mine cannot be aided by early correspondence
and files, for most of them are lost. As I do remember, however, I was
first introduced to Hamlin Garland by that amazing woman, Mary Austin,
or, perhaps, I just met him at a party. We soon became staunch friends.
I realized quickly that he was actually an ally of the young realistic
writers, unlike Booth Tarkington, for example, who tried to understand
them but never did. The young writers, on the other hand, were suspicious
of Hamlin. He was interested in too many worthy causes; he seemed ponderous
to them. It has taken the years to show that he was one of the barrier-breakers.
As was the case with Howells, the young of his time could not accept his
hand with eagerness. The fact that I did does not lead me to boast, but
only to be thankful for having had in him a warm and loyal friend.
HAROLD S. LATHAM,
from Kearny (Arlington), New Jersey, August 18, 1960.
I have taken
from The Bookman the few quotations which follow. I find myself
saying in December, 1921, in reviewing A Daughter of the Middle Border
Garland, it seems, was once a literary radical: more than that, some of
his views of life would now be considered by some as far from conservative.
Nice tags. Convenient to fasten thoughts loosely.
In December, 1923,
he wrote for the magazine a piece called "Pioneers and City Dwellers."
It was a confession after a sort of the feeling of guilt felt by the pioneer
living in the city who was yet unwilling to go back to the farm. He wrote
are people, there must be people, who still love to farm, to milk
cows, to pick fruit, and to dig potatoes--how else can we go on eating?--but
such doings are not for me. I have had my share of all such activities.
I am content to feed my goldfish and exercise my dog on the roof. I do
not intend to play the hypocrite in this matter, urging the other fellow
to go West as Horace Greeley did while enjoying Union Square and Broadway
And later, in the
pioneering was a lonely business in the past is no bar against its being
a different process in the future. When need of altering the gregarious
tendencies of youth is keen enough, all the resources of art, literature,
and invention will be turned in the direction of making the farm attractive,
just as these wonder-working forces are at play making the city the romantic,
dangerous, and inspiring place which the sons and daughters of our pioneers
have found it to be.
At a Boy Scout
luncheon for Douglas Fairbanks in April, 1924, Mr. Garland and I were in
attendance, with Dan Beard, John Finley, Norman Hapgood, Carl Van Doren,
W. T. Hornaday, and many others. Mr. Garland was in a fine mood, impressed
that Mr. Fairbanks quoted Herbert Spencer and that the crowds jamming the
streets to hail the great movie star were so large that Mr. Garland, built
somewhat like a fullback, had to shoulder his way through and enter by
a side door.
Later in the
same year, having met him on Forty-Third Street, I find myself writing
Garland is exactly our idea of what a literary man should look like...
If we were as sturdily made as he, we should wear our hair just as long.
He is always dignified, interesting, and kindly--a most unusual combination.
I find myself chuckling
over that last sentence. Ah, well! I was young.
1925, I met him again in the Forties, and wrote of him
there walked Hamlin Garland, white-haired and dignified. He is still much
interested in the progress and development of the Town Hall Club. He is
still a calm figure in the midst of hurrying Fifth Avenue or the bellowing
of literary cliques.
By November, 1926,
I was making overwhelming use of my ebullient style to voice my great admiration
and recommend his new novel Trail-Makers of the Middle Border, in
that unreserved fashion that so annoyed many of my contemporaries. I read
my review with a blush now, but I have not changed my high opinion of Mr.
Garland and his works.
Garland is secondarily the novelist, and first the historian. His publishers
are announcing his book as a novel. Certain it is that his former Middle
Border stories were definitely autobiographical. In the new book, which
is far and away better than the others, he proves himself one of the few
realistic chroniclers of pioneer days who maintain verisimilitude and refrain
from sentimentality. This story of New Englanders moving to the West, in
its essence the story of a boy's adventures, is filled with incident, humor,
pathos, and romance. It should be read as widely as any of the books of
Herbert Quick or Emerson Hough, and it has, of course, an artistry which
neither of these robust authors displayed. Mr. Garland's treatment of the
Civil War is masterly. Here is a book of great importance to men and boys,
and for their wives and sisters and mothers, too. Hamlin Garland can show
aces to any of the youngsters of the day. It is a great book!
many memories of Hamlin Garland, ranging from relaxing hours at his home
in the Catskills to serious literary conferences about his work, either
in his New York City study or in my Macmillan office.
from Santa Barbara, California, October 9, 1960.
in particular, a moonlight stroll with him on the wooded trail that wound
around the top of Onteora Mountain, the site of his summer home. It was
a beautiful evening, and Garland would stop now and then as an opening
in the trees brought into view the moonlit valley below, and exclaim over
the beauties of the world and voice the satisfaction and inspiration he
said he always received from his contemplation of nature. Garland, bundled
up in heavy coat and muffler, for it was late autumn, silhouetted against
the night sky, pointing with his cane at something far below us: that is
a picture that is indelibly etched on my mind.
concentrating on some literary problem, with that puzzled, quizzical expression
we all knew so well, this, too, I remember with equal vividness. Sensitive
to a high degree, easily hurt, overgenerous toward others, firm in his
convictions, he was a man deeply admired and respected by the editors who
worked with him; and these editors recognized, too, his moods of "up and
down." He was easily discouraged, and his publishing friends tried ever
to stress the recognition which his work had aroused throughout the world
and to minimize those trivia in the fields of criticism which sometimes
assumed undue proportions in his mind.
How well I remember
the day he received the Pulitzer Prize for A Daughter of the Middle
Border. His delight in that was unconcealed, and yet there was a modest,
almost boyish charm and excitement about it. And we at Macmillan's were
as happy as he was. It was ever a great satisfaction to me to know Hamlin
Garland and to work with him: a most rewarding association.
M. A. DE WOLFE
HOWE, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, September 5, 1960.
the Postman, Fame Rang His Doorbell Twice"
When I first knew
Hamlin Garland, he was in his middle fifties, in frail health, living precariously
by lecturing. The fame of his Main-Travelled Roads and other early
books, written in revolt against the sentimental idealization of farm life,
had largely faded. Though he worked with us younger writers during the
first World War, and worked effectively, we were inclined to look on him
as an attractive and lovable but no longer significant has-been. He was
entertaining when he and Theodore Roosevelt swapped stories of the Western
frontier, but, to us, in our early thirties, only as a literary relic.
1917, something happened. Two things, in fact, happened. Garland fell into
the hands of a brilliant New York physician, Dr. Turck; and Macmillan's
published A Son of the Middle Border. The Doctor put Hamlin through
a vigorous and, I suspect, painful discipline that gave him twenty-five
or more years of vigorous life; and A Son of the Middle Border received
the accolade of the critics and became, overnight, a best-seller.
To what extent
the book rode a wave of new interest in the American past, or the book
itself helped to create that interest, I have no way of knowing. But Garland's
realistic memories of his boyhood in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa caught
on. He was old enough to remember his father's return from the Civil War
and young enough to speak the language of the second decade of the following
century. Everybody and his wife read the book, and before he knew it, Garland
was wreathed in a new aura of fame, brighter and more permanent than the
Being the person
that he was--simple, unself-conscious, and unpretentious; honest to the
bone, and warm in his relations with people--Hamlin carried his fame lightly.
He continued lecturing--to larger audiences now--and brought out a second
book, A Daughter of the Middle Border, his wife's story this time.
Now, in quick succession, followed other books of reminiscence, recalling
the literary figures of the Eastern seaboard in the nineties and early
nineteen-hundreds. He had kept a detailed journal for, God knows how long,
and it proved a treasure-trove.
By the middle
nineteen-twenties, Garland was comfortably well off, and he moved to California
and in 1930 built himself a charming Monterey-type house in Hollywood.
A lifetime's interest in psychic phenomena prompted him to write a volume
or two of reminiscence on another frontier.
I was living
in Pasadena the year that he died. There was for him, happily, no period
of gradual eclipse, painful to him, his family, and his friends. What I
remember of those final months is the undiminished vigor of his mind and
body, the robust heartiness of his welcome when I went to see him, his
keen interest in life, and in all that was important to his friends, and
the impression he gave, unconsciously, that he was going to be around for
another decade, anyway. The news of his death when it came, with no warning,
would not register at first. It seemed unbelievable that a man so definitely
still standing in the fullness of life could thus go, between one day and
And, in this
year, 1960, if he had lived, he would be a hundred! Even at that age, Hamlin
Garland, I am persuaded, might still have the robust delight in life that,
at eighty, he so obviously retained. His second fame, like his first, has
faded; his name is no longer familiar to any large segment of the public.
But A Son of the Middle Border goes on, perennially true, perennially
interesting, because the vanished way of life that it records echoes the
heart-beat of the American story. That way of life was harsh and stern
in many of its aspects, but it made for reality in the people who lived
it. Readers loved the book and generations of other readers will, in turn,
love it because that reality is in the story itself, as it was in that
son of the Middle Border who wrote it so simply and so unforgettably.
is a pleasure to contribute a few words to the memorial of Hamlin Garland.
Our relation was largely that of correspondents, but I enjoyed greatly
his writings, and feel that he made a genuine contribution to the history
of his time, and not only to his region but to the country at large. I
hope he will be long remembered.
from Newark, New Jersey, August 22, 1960.
I think of Hamlin Garland it is with gratitude to a generous and gracious
gentleman who voluntarily took the time and trouble to write kind words
to a beginner far back on the road that he had so successfully travelled.
I never met him, except in his books, but his friendly gesture, totally
unexpected, made a deep and lasting impression that I appreciate more than
ever today when courtesy and kindness have become the "old-fashioned" virtues.
from New York City, August 19, 1960.
I have a feeling
that he would like to be remembered not only for his books and magazine
work and all the tangible evidence of a famous author, but for the quiet
encouragement he offered the timid unknowns--there must have been many
day, Hamlin Garland and I were going in a car to Stoke Poges to revel in
the "Elegy." An ordinary, everyday-looking house came into view.
from Santa Fe, New Mexico, August 22, 1960.
"There's a story
in that house. I'd like to move in with the family and live there six months,"
"Do you know
the family?" I asked.
I was surprised
and said, "Then how do you know there is a story in that house?"
"There's a story
in every house," said Hamlin.
letter about Hamlin Garland brings back to me quick warm flashes of my
first years in New York after graduation from Harvard. In 1902, I went
directly to S. S. McClure, beginning as a ten-dollar-a-week office-boy
for both McClure's Magazine and the McClure, Phillips Publishing
Company. Since the "Boss" soon made me his secretary, poetry editor of
the magazine, and general assistant editor, I met a great many figures
then active in the literary world.
from Del Mar, California, August 30, 1960.
was only in his early forties, I at twenty-one was somewhat in awe of his
years as well as of his distinction, and though I never came to know him
well, regarded him the three or four times I met him as almost an elder
like Mark Twain, for instance, whom I came to know well. Then, because
of his territory, I had a feeling that he belonged to my "Boss," S. S.
McClure, and the Midwest group I came to know: George Ade, William Marion
Reedy, John and George McCutcheon, and even the Southerner, O. Henry. My
sense remains of a sturdy, impressive, quiet man who, with history in one
pocket and fiction in another, was very modest about it and had a hearty
smile and encouraging word for a publisher's apprentice.
Hamlin Garland as the one person I have known who always had time for his
work, his correspondence, his family, his friends, and both the world of
men and the world of books and art. He never hurried, yet he told me that
he rewrote A Son of the Middle Border ten times. He seemed always
to have time to do what should be done, yet was outstanding proof that
one can get what he values most out of life if he orders his life well,
and in that respect, he was an inspiration to all of us who knew him.
LELAND D. CASE,
from Chicago, October 10, 1960.
he arose early, wrote for three hours, read and pondered the news of the
day, took a long drive with Mrs. Garland, the objective being a drop-in
visit with some interesting friend, such as Will Rogers. After dinner,
if there was no imperative engagement, they enjoyed reading aloud. They
lived, it seemed to me, the perfect life.
saw Hamlin Garland at the railroad station of Lamy, New Mexico, one fall
day in 1939. His sturdy frame was buttoned in a black topcoat and his handsome
face, with its generously shaped moustache, glowed under a dark slouch
PEATTIE, from Santa Barbara, California, September 27, 1960
We had had correspondence
about an article for a magazine I was editing, and he had stopped off enroute
from the East to California for a visit to our temporary adobe home on
then dusty Camino del Monte Sol in Santa Fe. Rapport was immediate. Though
we were of different generations, each had spent youthful years in Iowa
and South Dakota, and we were quickly drawn together in the freemasonry
of a mood only to be understood by those who have seen and felt and smelled
freshly turned prairie sod.
Out of our conversations
that day came an idea for an organization to articulate and lift up the
indigenous culture of the then depressed Upper Missouri Valley. It materialized
as Friends of the Middle Border, seated at Mitchell, South Dakota, where
it has a museum and has stimulated creative research. But from the ashes
of a short-lived branch in Chicago sprang a movement possessing remarkable
it is called. It consists of groups of business and professional men with
unfeigned interest in Western lore and history. They are loosely linked,
chiefly through the Western Foundation of the College of the Pacific in
Stockton. They flourish in a dozen American cities and in England, France,
Germany, and Sweden.
would be surprised--and pleased. For, as did few literary men before him,
he recognized the texture and sensed the vitality of the West. So it is
in the spirit of paying tribute where it is over-due that I am wishing
that in front of all Westerners assembled, I could rise and nominate him
as our Chief Grand Exalted Lobo!
Hamlin Garland but slightly in my early years, but later on I came to read
his early books--his life in Wisconsin and Iowa and his gradual removal
eastward--and I admired them very much.
Sauk City, Wisconsin, August 17, 1960.
I know that
my parents, who were old friends of his, admired him too. I was not able
to follow his work here in California owing to illness or other work of
my own, but I am sorry, at least, not to have seen him again.
is a long time since Hamlin Garland and I corresponded--but less long since
last I looked into A Son of the Middle Border. That, I think, is
the book of Garland's which had the greatest impact on me, living as I
do less than a hundred miles as the crow flies from its setting, in part
at least. I dedicated my novel Bright Journey to him; it was published
before his death in 1940, I believe.
from Los Angeles, August 19, 1960.
As I remember
it now--my letters from him are not at hand but in the Derleth Collection
of the State Historical Society at Madison--we corresponded about my Sac
Prairie Saga. I wrote him my plans for it, and though he felt I would tire
of it before I had completed the work (I am still writing at it, 25 years
later), he encouraged me to continue writing about my native milieu, seconding
Zona Gale in this encouragement, which was so important to a writer like
myself, isolated in provincial mid-America in the 1930's with very few
contacts--other than magazines and literary papers--with the world outside.
I could not say that Garland was a major influence--he did not rank with
Emerson and Thoreau and Sherwood Anderson and Edgar Lee Masters--but I
should say that I looked up to him as I did to Zona Gale, and I prized
what he had to write in the way of advice, though even at that time I felt
that in some ways he seemed to be a Puritan--not prim or prudish, no, but
a trifle puritanical.
I should like
to think that many of us here in the Midwest who were writing in the late
1920's and 1930's looked to Garland with admiration; I know I did. I admired
the Middle Border books very much, though there is little trace of Garland
in my own writing, and for those of us who were writing here in Wisconsin,
certainly, Garland and Gale occupied the literary stage.
Son of the Middle Border, Hamlin Garland confesses that he began his
literary career by "assaulting William Dean Howells," and ended by becoming
his public advocate.
from Los Angeles, August, 1960.
the dominant man of letters when Hamlin Garland, starry-eyed, went to Boston,
and though Howells became his master, it was in him to go much further
along the way to realism than Howells. That was evident in his first book,
Roads, and the move toward naturalism was clearly stated in those essays
collected and published in 1894 as Crumbling Idols. While Garland
was not "the first actual farmer in American fiction," as novelist Joseph
Kirkland proclaimed in 1887, he was the first of the realists to discover
the frontier country in stories which recognized the toil and sweat, dust
and discouragement, along with the glories of the open spaces and adventure
on the plains.
It is to be
hoped that during this centennial year, Hamlin Garland's early literary
credo as set forth in Crumbling Idols and his Main-Travelled
Roads will not be over-shadowed by his more popular A Son of the
Middle Border. For he was indeed the way-breaker for those later naturalists:
Theodore Dreiser, Sinclair Lewis, and a score of others, who came to see
the Midwest as the heart of America.
is well to underscore the fact that while Garland's mind and heart were
stirred by the proverty and hardships of the people he pictured in his
books, he was alive to their courage and goodness. More important, he knew
that a writer could not effectively picture ugliness and injustice without
the contrasting lights of beauty and integrity.
I was fortunate
enough to have had him for a neighbor for nearly a decade--the last decade
of his life. He proved to be a good neighbor. His home was beautiful, as
were his wife and daughters. He himself was handsome and charming. To sit
with the Garlands was to know graciousness and hospitality. He held one
with his talk about Stephen Crane, whom, with William Dean Howells, he
discovered. And old Walt Whitman, John Burroughs, Eugene Field, Opie Read,
and Henry B. Fuller came alive as he talked of the past. He spoke with
gusto and a twinkling eye, and his talk was as stimulating as a tonic.
A day I particularly
recall is when he and Julian Hawthorne sat together reminiscing about the
greats and near-greats of Boston during the last decades of the Nineteenth
century. Between them, they could remember nearly every writer and artist
who had made even a faint stir in what was then America's literary capital.
was not only a pioneer of American realism, a discoverer, but he was also
a helper of his fellow-craftsmen. He was a distinguished man of letters
and a chronicler of plain people. And he was a good man.
Garland and the University of Southern California"
ROBERT E. SPILLER,
from High Valley, Wilmington, Vermont, August 22, 1960.
When I joined
the English department of this University, I already knew Hamlin Garland.
At that time, he was spending his winters in Los Angeles and his summers
in the East. After a few years, he made his permanent residence here.
the English honor society, was then bringing one or two noted writers to
the campus each year for public lectures. I suggested Mr. Garland for such
an occasion, and the arrangement was promptly made. Later, as program chairman
for the Faculty Club, I asked him to address one of our noonday meetings.
His pleasure in communing with the teachers of youth, and ours in listening
to a distinguished author of impressive presence and forceful speech, led
to his being invited back at intervals through the years. Also, the staff
of the University Library, manifesting early interest, secured him for
a number of public lectures, gave teas in his honor, and put on exhibitions
of his books and manuscripts. Happily, to this day, his two daughters--Mrs.
Isabel Garland Lord and Mrs. Constance Garland Doyle--can still represent
him at University gatherings.
In his relations
with the University, Mr. Garland engaged in a variety of collateral activities.
Among them was playing host in his home to both regular and visiting members
of our English and history staffs. I drafted him annually for talks to
my classes in creative writing and American literature. For the latter,
I selected a time when we were considering writers he had known firsthand--Whitman,
Mark Twain, Bret Harte, Howells, Stephen Crane. As he spoke, the students
saw these eminent but somewhat shadowy writers emerge out of books and
become living figures. During his accounts of struggle and privations on
the Middle Border, his vigorous personality made him appear a later embodiment
of the indomitable pioneer.
He often asked
who among the students showed promise of creative achievement in writing.
He asked that such students be brought to his home; he discussed with them
the problems of authorship; he exhorted them to revise what they wrote
and then revise again and again until they had captured the exact meaning,
the precise emotional nuance. Nothing pleased him better than to confer
face to face with talented and eager young writers.
Aware that his
literary papers and correspondence were of importance to scholarship, he
broached with me the problem of their ultimate disposal. His first idea
was to disperse them rather widely, but I emphasized the value to scholars
of having them in one place, and expressed the fervent hope that this place
would be the University of Southern California Library. Subsequent conferences
were held with other members of the English faculty, especially Dr. John
D. Cooke, and with the Library staff. After Mr. Garland's death, at his
express wish, the Garland Papers did come to the Library, where they became
the core of our newlyformed American Literature Collection and a rich resource
for research, both for our own scholars and for Eastern and transatlantic
scholars, who have made extended visits to the Library especially to study
relations to the University were always extremely cordial. It is pleasant
to remember that in 1935 we awarded him the honorary degree of Doctor of
Literature. He is therefore to be remembered not only as a benefactor,
but as a Trojan.
the publication of Crumbling Idols in 1894, Hamlin Garland took
his place as the spokesman for the new currents that were forming in American
literary history as his friend Howells had done slightly earlier with his
essays in Harper's. Although he thought of himself at the time as
the prophet of a new literature of the West, he was equally important for
his understanding of impressionism, naturalism, and other movements in
painting and fiction in Continental Europe. However far he may have strayed
from these movements in his later romances, his importance to American
literary history for these accomplishments remains unchanged. He, with
Crane, Norris, London, and a few others pointed the way that the fiction
of the next century was to follow.
from the Sorbonne, Paris, October 8, 1960.
Garland's addiction to England was pleasing to his English friends, but
it is doubtful that any of them realized that his had not been a case of
love at first sight. Garland's heart had first gone to the very antithesis
of England and the English, Paris and the French.
from Austin, Texas, September 8, 1960.
first stay in London in 1899, for all the pleasure which he derived from
meeting fellow literary celebrities, had been a rather dreary one. "I don't
like the climate; it is too wet and cold," he wrote home. Nor did he like
the food, nor the "dull and conventional" people. "If you see a fine, pretty
girl in London," he wrote, "you can bet she is an American."
Within a few
weeks, Hamlin Garland had fled to Paris and was sending rapturous letters
home. "This is a great city, and the French are a great people... I am
comfortable for the first time since I left Chicago." The weather was "beautiful,"
"gorgeous." The women looked "almost as handsome as American women." He
even developed a taste for wine. "It is a good deal like vinegar, but it
`squinches' thirst when mixed with water," he wrote. Limited though his
French was, he enjoyed practicing it on the native. "They grin and I grin,
and we part good friends."
from unpublished correspondence in the Hamlin Garland Papers at the University
of Southern California Library.
was a delightful holiday. Small wonder, then, that some years later, when
he was in ill health and feeling a little uneasy about venturing into the
field of romance writing, he could not resist the urge to again "hit the
trail" for Europe. Not only did he hope to recruit his health, but he was
intent as well upon writing a Continental sequel to his London novel, Her
Mountain Lover, which had caricatured English society. The upshot of
this journey was the writing of Jim's Pasear Abroad, a fictionized
travelogue in epistolary form, which was never published.
"A very considerable
exercise of the imagination is required for us to get even a Frenchman's
point of view...." This incidental comparison which Garland drew in his
article "The Red Man as Material" gives us a clue as to the reason for
the failure of this work. Hamlin Garland was unable to grasp the French
point of view.
In France, as
on the Indian reservations, Garland could not be a mere tourist; he became
champion and advocate. It was his duty, he felt, to clamor to the world
that, like his fellow-sufferer from Anglo-Saxon misrepresentation, the
Indian, the Frenchman was a normal human being. Jim Matteson, his plainsman
protagonist, writes home
you've all heard of the French barber and the French dancing master....
But I want to tell you there is a French farmer and a French doctor and
a French merchant and his wife.
generous nature is no better exemplified than by the zeal with which he
flew to the defense of the French and wholeheartedly titled at his own
Puritan background. Jim defends both the presence of nude statues in Paris
and the drinking habits of the French people. "They didn't seem to drink
as much as Kansans do."
Abroad, in the Hamlin Garland Papers.
One cannot but
agree with Richard Watson Gilder that such an earnest plea for France robbed
her of one of her most precious possessions, her air of disrepute, and
was "lacking in selling quality." A Frenchman is both amused and touched
by Garland's endeavor to vindicate him. "An American of Americans," as
Robert Frost characterized him, Hamlin Garland had taken with him to France
his country's most distinctive traits: love of justice and open-heartedness.
One feels sorry that in this instance they were of no greater avail.
Garland as Subject for Biography"
from Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, September 6, 1960.
in literary history, there emerges a figure whose influence upon the world
of letters derives more from force of personality than from artistic achievement.
Such a man was Hamlin Garland, that gregarious peripatetic and joiner of
"movements," whose slim sheaf of enduring works is overshadowed by his
incessant public activities.
Roads remains a landmark in the transition to realism, of equal or
greater importance was Garland's personal impact upon his contemporaries,
with such diverse authors as Stephen Crane and Theodore Dreiser acknowledging
his influence. While Crumbling Idols was briefly the manifesto of
the avant-garde in literature and art, the tides of naturalism soon swirled
past Garland, leaving him stranded on the isolated reef of his "veritism."
Of more importance, perhaps, were Garland's lifelong efforts in behalf
of unknown talents and his organizational work to dignify the profession
of letters. While his "Middle Border" books won for him a Pulitzer Prize,
they endure not so much as expressions of regionalism but as sympathetic
re-creations of an entire era.
For in the words
of Robert E. Spiller
was an excellent example of an author whose claim to greatness depends
on his response to the vital currents of his times, rather than on an ability
to rise above his times and reveal universal truths in enduring form.
It was this many-faceted
response to life, to friendship, and to literature--to séances and
the single tax, to Indian rights and women's rights, to share-croppers
and literary lions--that made Garland a fascinating subject for biographical
study in relation to both literary and social history.
Review of Mrs.
Holloway's Hamlin Garland, New York Herald-Tribune, July
1892, under the impetus of his first full year as a professional writer,
Hamlin Garland published four novels. One of these, A Member of the
Third House, epitomizes much of his early work. The novel is based
upon a scandal in the Massachusetts Legislature involving the awarding
of street railway franchises. It is in several ways an inept work of fiction,
revealing its initial hurried composition as a play and its later superficial
revision into a novel. But the work embodies an assumption or spirit that
is important both for Garland's early career and for our literature. That
spirit is strikingly captured by the frontispiece portrait of the 1892
edition of A Member of the Third House. The photograph presents
a bearded Garland in an Inverness cape and soft hat, arms folded resolutely
across his chest, looking forthrightly, almost belligerently, before him.
It is the portrait of a man who has something to say, who is not too troubled
how he will say it, and who appears to admonish the reader that "There
is much to do in the world, and we must hurry."
from New York City, August 19, 1960.
For A Member
of the Third House is the work of a writer who was convinced that the
artist must focus on the contemporary life around him, that contemporary
life was aflame with social problems and issues, and that the work of art
was strengthened, not weakened, by its involvement in the vital concerns
of its time. Today, it matters little that the social evil exposed in the
novel (lobbies) has been at least partially alleviated, or that Garland's
own solution (the single tax) is no longer widely supported. What is important
is the assumption underlying A Member of the Third House--that art
and society are intrinsically linked, and that the best fiction is that
which compels us to examine our social attitudes and beliefs while involving
us emotionally in the fictional world of narrative and character. Such
an assumption was unacceptable during Garland's early career. The Genteel
Tradition controlled outlets of publication and review, and Garland found
his social fiction deprecated as "controversial" and "inartistic." In our
own time, with the flourishing of a school of criticism devoted to fictional
structure and "texture," that assumption is still suspect. Of course, as
Garland himself knew, social involvement is not an excuse for poor workmanship
or a "preaching" author. But to the man eyeing us so steadily from the
frontispiece, the artist as "entertainer" or "pure craftsman" was a contradiction
work, in short, has a vitality, often an exuberance, of a man with a cause,
of the man to whom art was a synonym for justice. His work therefore reminds
us not only of the issues of his own day--the plight of the farmer, the
rise of Populism, the struggle for women's rights--but also that the social
involvement of the writer can be a source of power, that when combined
with the subtle control of an art form--as in Garland's Middle Border short
stories--there results work of permanent endurance and interest.
very name evokes a lost literary and cultural era in America--an era when
the written word, whether in newspapers, in magazines or in books, ruled
supreme. Today, when television, radio, and the movies command the public
attention with their tons of fluid, fleeting words every day of the week,
Hamlin Garland seems as remote as a legend. But the fact that today he
is still remembered, reprinted, and read can serve to reassure us of the
solidity of the written word.
was not a direct or major influence on my own writing, but the respect
and veneration with which the man and his work were regarded by the American
public during my boyhood in the nineteen-twenties helped to strengthen
me in my childhood determination to embark on a literary career. A saltier
Mark Twain blazed a more rugged trail in American letters and he was much
my favorite in those early years of my life. The figures of Jack London
and Stephen Crane struck me more forcibly. But Hamlin Garland in his quieter
way also loomed up large before me in my childhood, and the winding, adventurous
literary road that he indicated was brightened by his prose and smelled
good and seemed worthwhile.
Time is putting
distance around the literary figure of Hamlin Garland, and if in this distance
his figure seem mistier, it also seems larger and bolder and to stand more
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