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Garland in His Own Time

A Biographical Chronicle of His Life, Drawn from Recollections, Interviews, and Memoirs by Family, Friends, and Associates

Keith Newlin

Publication Year: 2013

In his heyday, Hamlin Garland had a considerable reputation as a radical writer whose realistic stories and polemical essays agitating for a literature that accurately represented American life riled the nation’s press. Born in poverty and raised on a series of frontier farms, Garland fled the rural Midwest in 1881 at age twenty-one. When his stories combining the radical economic theories of Henry George with realistic depictions of farm life appeared as Main-Travelled Roads in 1891, reviewers praised his method but were disturbed by the bleak subject matter. Four years (and eight books) later, his frank depiction of sexuality in his novel of the New Woman, Rose of Dutcher’s Coolly (1895), made Garland even more controversial.

After realizing he couldn’t make a living from such realistic works, Garland turned first to biography, then to critically panned but commercially popular romances set in the mountain west, and eventually to autobiography. In 1917 he published A Son of the Middle Border, a remarkable autobiography in which he combined the story of his life to 1893 with the story of U.S. westward expansion, to considerable critical acclaim and large sales. Its 1921 sequel, A Daughter of the Middle Border, received the Pulitzer Prize for biography.

Although the author eventually wrote no fewer than eight autobiographies, he showed little awareness of the effect of his strong personality upon others. The sixty-six reminiscences in Garland in His Own Time offer an essential complement to his self-portrait by giving the perspectives of family, friends, fellow writers, and critics. The book offers the contemporary reader new reasons to return to this fascinating writer’s work. 

Published by: University of Iowa Press


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p. 1-1

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. 2-7


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pp. vii-x

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pp. xi-xxx

For years his depression had been growing as each day brought evidence of new physical infirmities and reminders that current fiction and literary fashion had edged out interest in his books. To newspaperman Floyd Logan he wrote on 5 February 1934, “Your very frank good letter is on my desk and I feel that I must acknowledge it ...


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pp. xxxi-xxxviii

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[Garland’s Iowa, Dakota, and Boston Years, 1874–1890]

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pp. 1-8

While Hamlin was attending the Seminary, I was at home doing the chores and keeping up the Farm work on the assumption that I was to have my chance when he had finished, but my chance never came. Conditions got so bad Father could not spare me or the money, then he sold the Farm and we moved to Dakota. ...

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[Garland in Dakota in 1883]

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pp. 9-12

Hamlin Garland’s latest book, “A Son of the Middle Border,” brings to mind his first volume, “Main Traveled Roads,” published in 1891. Some of the inspiration for the two books, as well as for the third called “Prairie Folks,” was gathered in the ’80s when his parents resided at Ordway in Dakota territory ...

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[Discussing Garland with Walt Whitman, 1888–1889]

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pp. 13-20

[18 august 1888] i said to w.: “Garland’s practice of reading you aloud is one that Ingersoll, too, has told me he followed.”1 “How so? What did the Colonel say?” “That all great literature lent itself to the lips — that you were never so impressive as when rightly read aloud.” “Did he say that? ...

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[Garland as a Teacher in 1889]

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pp. 21-22

Dear Sir: It interests me that you are writing for your thesis on so interesting a subject as the life and doings of Hamlin Garland. This morning I have been rummaging around in the attic hoping to find an old notebook to send to you. I have not been able to find it. So can only tell you that Mr. Garland was for a brief term my teacher, ...

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[Garland as a Teacher in 1890]

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pp. 23-24

The course of lectures given during the summer of 1890 by Hamlin Garland, at the Boston School of Oratory, has proved of so much benefit to us who were present that we are moved to express our appreciation. Just now the realistic movement in American fiction is so close upon us as to fail of a candid estimate by the public. ...

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[Garland in Boston, 1889–1890]

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pp. 25-34

One lovely Sunday morning early in the summer of 1889 Katharine told the children there would be a very special guest for dinner, a certain Professor Garland. The family eagerly awaited his coming, with no premonition of the thunderbolt that was to burst upon their home. ...

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[Garland and The Arena, 1890]

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pp. 35-37

One morning, some time after the founding of the Arena, my morning mail brought a typewritten short story, bearing the title of “A Prairie Heroine,” and signed Hamlin Garland. The manuscript was travel-worn and the author had drawn his pen through several tell-tale lines that spoke of the enthusiastic reformer ...

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[Garland at the Populist Convention in 1892]

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pp. 38-40

Rod must have still been feeding on his bottle when Hamlin Garland came to our house as a guest at the time of the Populist Convention. He had written to me in appreciation of a review I wrote of Sidney Lanier’s poems; then afterward, of my warm praise of his own Main-Travelled Roads. ...

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[Garland as a Radical in 1892]

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pp. 41-82

In those days I met and formed a casual acquaintance that became a lifetime attachment — my first literary man — Hamlin Garland. I had read his “Main Travelled Roads,” and other slight books describing the farm people. I had accepted his political heresies, his sympathies with the farmer’s wrongs, ...

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[Journal Comments on Garland in 1893]

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pp. 42-43

[notebook, 6 june 1893] Met Garland and Schulte. They are on the eve of starting a new magazine on the new lines of thought. It will take up the literary uses of the problems discussed in the Arena. Garland is to be the editor and proposes “The Western Magazine” as the title of the journal. ...

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[The Battle of the Realists and Romanticists in 1893]

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pp. 44-47

The chances are that to the end of our earthly career we shall keep on regretting that we were not present at that session of the Congress of Authors when Mr. Hamlin Garland and Mrs. Mary Hartwell Catherwood had their famous intellectual wrestling match. Garland is one of the apostles of realism. ...

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[Garland in West Salem, 1893–1915]

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pp. 48-51

About 1893, the Garlands were again settled in West Salem. Though I made neighborly calls, [I] did not happen to meet the author till one evening his mother brought her two sons to our house. I was quite scared and uttered some commonplace of being pleased to see them, ...

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[Garland as a West Salem Resident, 1893–1915]

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pp. 52-56

During the years while his parents lived at Maple Shade, Garland spent part of each year in West Salem and the residents came to know him either by sight or word. He was a quiet man who few knew well and the stories of his eccentricities are well remembered. ...

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[An Alternate View of Garland in West Salem, 1893–1915]

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pp. 57-58

Several biographies of Garland have stated that he was born in Green’s coulee. I hope you have the facts correct. He was born here in West Salem according to his own words in a letter which I have here, and according to the son of the attending physician, John A. Stanley who wrote of the incident in From Then Until Now ...

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[Letters about Garland, 1894]

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pp. 59-62

By the way, I saw a review in the Tribune of Hamlin Garland’s new book of Essays.1 He is a man with some power and with half an idea, but he is such a hopeless crank that nothing can be done with him, I fear. He is one of the very men who give us most trouble in producing a spirit of sane Americanism, ...

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[Satiric Commentary on Garland, 1895–1899]

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pp. 63-65

[June 1895] the editor of The Baseburner, who claims to be a veritist, states that it is not true that the Garland stoves were named after Ham Garland of Chicago Stockyards; but the fact is Garland named himself after the stoves.1 ...

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From “I State My Views on Taxation” (1896)

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pp. 66-68

Of the many friends who hastened to congratulate us when they heard that we had acquired a home, none was more delighted than Gamlin Harland. I take it for granted that you have read Mr. Harland’s numerous books, and that you know all about Mr. Harland himself. Not to know of him is to argue one’s self unknown. ...

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[Satiric Commentary on Garland in 1896]

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pp. 69-71

Hamlin Garland is a worthy young man and a talented writer who has already been laughed at probably more than he deserves. Lacking the sense of humor himself, he naturally provokes the smiles of those who have it, even while they respect his astonishing seriousness. ...

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[Garland in London in 1899]

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pp. 72-73

A recent notice of Hamlin Garland in the London Times sent my mind back through the decades on what, in this circumstance, was an especially felicitous voyage. I found myself in the high summer of 1899 in one of the orchard gardens of Cookham Dean in Berkshire, in that horseshoe of the Thames ...

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[Garland’s Marriage, 1899–1906]

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pp. 74-78

Back in her brother’s studio on the Midway in Chicago, Zulime was commissioned to model an heroic-size group for the World’s Fair of 1893. As I remember, Education was the subject, and from the photographs it turned out to be a handsome, professional job.1 ...

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From “On the Trail with Hamlin Garland” (1907)

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pp. 79-86

How many of those who have heard of Hamlin Garland, and are familiar with his works, have stopped to think of that brilliant author as a common man in private life. Mr. Garland’s late visit to our midst has developed many of his pleasant traits of character, showing the common-place unassuming gentleman that he is. ...

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From “Mr. Garland’s Books” (1912)

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pp. 87-90

The life of any man of letters who has lived long with strong convictions becomes part of the literary history of his time, though the history may never acknowledge it. Or, if the reader will not allow so much as this, then we may agree that inevitably such an author’s life becomes bound up with that of his literary contemporaries, especially his younger contemporaries. ...

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[Letter about Interviewing Garland in 1915]

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pp. 91-93

I saw considerable of Garland during one period of my work. When I was writing my History of American Literature since 1870, 1915, I was greatly handicapped because most of the new young creators I was to deal with had not yet been written up. Garland’s publishers had issued some biographical facts concerning him ...

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[Garland at the Cliff Dwellers in 1915]

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pp. 94-95

Hamlin Garland was its first president and remained in that office for the next seven years. He poured limitless energy into its growth, vise’d everything and gave it the stamp of his moral and mental viewpoint. He supervised too much and finally became something of a nuisance to the more free spirits of the club. ...

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[Life in the Garland Home, 1916]

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pp. 96-101

One of father’s most admirable traits was his enthusiasm for and appreciation of creative talent. Stephen Crane was one of his early discoveries, and all through his life he was generously promoting young literary talent. There was no professional jealousy in Father. The thing that counted was craftsmanship. ...

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“An Appreciation of Hamlin Garland” (1917)

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pp. 102-103

Hamlin Garland is a man of letters and a man of action, a lover of nature and a lover of the life of men. For thirty years he has done good work; and never better work than he is doing now. The forests and the high peaks, the green prairies and the dry plains, he knows them as the city man knows his streets and he brings them vivid before the eyes of the reader. ...

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[Garland and the Automobile in 1920]

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pp. 104-105

One of daddy’s close literary friends and an object of fervent admiration by the Dudleys was the old naturalist, John Burroughs, whose “Woodchuck Lodge” was forty miles or so from Onteora. One day we all drove over to call. Cars were new and still exciting then, and Daddy and I, sitting in front with Uncle George, ...

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[Letter about Garland in New York in 1921]

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pp. 106-107

I am glad that someone is undertaking at last a biography of Hamlin Garland and I am especially glad that you are doing it. I knew Mr. Garland nearly thirty years ago, for he came to Connecticut Wesleyan when I was an undergraduate there. He was then serving on the Committee of Award for the Pulitzer Prize. ...

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From “Hamlin Garland — The Hardy of the West” (1926)

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pp. 108-116

Inasmuch as Hamlin Garland has always belonged, in the literary sense, to the Younger Element, it is hard to believe that my memory of him as a story writer and as a lecturer to small classes goes back forty years. But it does, though not much in my recollection of him shapes itself concretely before the year 1887. ...

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[Journal Comments on Garland in 1929]

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pp. 117-119

It is not because I believe in the dictum “all autobiographies are lies” that I am ambitious to write of the life and writing of Hamlin Garland. I wish to observe him and his deeds (not in a manner that would especially please John B. Watson1) but with an understanding though not a predilection for my subject. ...

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From “Text of Sinclair Lewis’s Nobel Prize Address at Stockholm” (1930)

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pp. 120-122

Mr. Howells was one of the gentlest, sweetest, and most honest of men and had the code of a pious old maid whose greatest delight is to have tea at the vicarage. He abhorred not only profanity and obscenity, but all of what [H. G.] Wells called the jolly coarsenesses of life. In his fantastic vision of life farmers, seamen and factory hands may exist, ...

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[Journal Comments on Garland in 1931]

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pp. 123-129

Tonight I made a call on Hamlin Garland at his home, 507 Cathedral Parkway. He was genial, entertaining, and inspiring. We talked of a great many things — sensational journalism, decadent literature, the over-emphasis of the Jewish (New York) note in the American letters — and of a great many persons ...

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[Garland in California, 1931–1933]

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pp. 130-134

That fall there was a big change in our lives. Father’s letters from Onteora, where Mother and he had been spending the summer in Grey Ledge, grew more and more forlorn. Mother was not improving; she was getting worse and was, in fact, nearly helpless. It was impossible for her to live in the big house with inadequate care. ...

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[Garland’s Work Habits, 1932]

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pp. 135-136

All my life I had been hurried by deadlines or economic pressures. I could not imagine a life in which one had time to rewrite ten times. But most of us would have twice as much time if we systematized our efforts. Garland told me he got up at half past five, brewed a pot of coffee and made toast ...

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[Letter Commenting on Garland in California in 1933]

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pp. 137-138

Hamlin Garland was a pleasant and friendly neighbor, and he liked to help young men in their writing careers. John Hodgdon Bradley was a favorite of his, and he is mentioned in the letters [that Jordan-Smith received from Garland]. Bradley was teaching at the Univ. of Southern California at the time, ...

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[Garland’s Seventy-third Birthday, 1933]

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pp. 139-140

Father had one social occasion in Los Angeles that was completely satisfactory. A loyal longtime friend, Gaylord Beaman, conceived a seventy-third birthday dinner for Hamlin Garland and worked like a demon to make it a success.1 Over Father’s worried protests, he wrote friends and fellow writers in England and America, ...

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[Diary Impressions of Garland in 1933]

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pp. 141-145

At the time that I met Mr. Garland I was keeping a journal and wrote in it my very personal impression of him, his family, and his home. I am having this copied for you, and you must forgive me if there is too little about him and too much about how I felt when I was with him. ...

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[Letter about Garland in Wisconsin, 1935]

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pp. 146-148

I’ve known Hamlin Garland for nearly thirty years, tho’ scarcely intimately, however friendly our relations. I remember calling upon him at his apartment in Chicago sometime in the winter of 96–7 when he gave me the first of many delighted chats on people and books, reminiscent in spirit even then. ...

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[Journal Comments on Garland in 1936]

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pp. 149-155

We are visiting the Hamlin Garlands. After having heard many times of what a rare hostess Mrs. Garland is, we are now enjoying it. She is a most gracious lady, thoughtful of her guests’ happiness without ceasing. ...

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[The Hamlin Garland Memorial, 1936]

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pp. 156-158

Scholars concerned with, or interested in, American literature may find the Hamlin Garland Memorial of special interest. In 1936, the Aberdeen unit of the South Dakota FWP published a mimeographed pamphlet of that title as a favor to the Ordway Community Club and Brown County Commission. ...

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[Garland and Psychic Investigation, 1937]

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pp. 159-162

In condensed form, it seemed that in 1904 a woman named Violet Parent, a resident of Southern California, claiming to have clairvoyant powers, announced that she had established communication with the founding California padres and that they had told her there were, lying buried in various natural spots in California, ...

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“Hamlin Garland, Active at 77, Enjoys Life in California Home” (1938)

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pp. 163-168

“Leave the snowy, cold Midwest and visit us in green and glorious California” was the invitation Hamlin Garland sent as a suggestion for spending a five-day holiday with him this month in his Los Angeles home. ...

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[Letter about a Visit with Garland in 1938]

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pp. 169-171

A few years ago when I first came to Osage, I naturally was interested in Hamlin Garland who spent his youth here. I began to read his works which depict the pioneer days of the middle border as well as the many other travels he has pursued. ...

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[Garland’s Final Days in 1940]

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pp. 172-175

Reading the last years of Daddy’s diaries is almost unbearably poignant. He was so brave, so gallant. The things he would not worry us with he set down honestly for himself: the acceptance of age and decay, the evernearer approach of “the dark river.” The philosopher in him recognized it all as reasonable and inevitable, but his still-youthful spirit ...

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[Letters about the Death of Garland, 1940]

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pp. 176-177

I see by the paper that Hamlin Garland, the cultured farmer, died in your city yesterday. He had what I call the Cinderella complex, that is sitting in the ashes he dreamed of a gilded coach, and by much striving got into the American Academy, and before that into the learned circles of Boston. ...

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"Hamlin Garland as I Knew Him” (1940)

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pp. 178-180

Full of years and honors, Hamlin Garland, often referred to as the dean of American letters, has gone to his eternal rest. It is strange for one who knew him so long as a strong, high-spirited and essentially alive man to be writing of him in the past tense; but so it must be. ...

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“My Friend Hamlin Garland” (1940)

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pp. 181-182

My acquaintance and friendship with Hamlin Garland began when we both were in our twenties. He lived then, as he did half a century later, on a road that was winding and quiet and shady — a retreat that seems far from the madding crowd, yet which was only around the corner from the hum and traffic and noise of a great city. ...

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“A Little Story of a Friendship” (1940)

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pp. 183-185

It was in the late 80’s that I got my first look at Hamlin Garland — a stalwart, full bearded young man from the middle west. I was then the editor and manager of the first newspaper syndicate in the United States. If I remember rightly, he had written a short story entitled “Mosinee Tom” and I bought it from him. ...

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“Hamlin Garland: Delightful Host” (1940)

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pp. 186-188

For many of us, life can never be quite the same again. Strong though they may be, and imperishable, the memory of Hamlin Garland’s personality and the legacy of his literary creations are at best only vivid shadows of the substance, which was the man himself. And that substance is something that can never be replaced ...

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“Hamlin Garland” (1942)

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pp. 189-191

A bit of autobiography, offered with apologies, may serve as a slight indication of the size and scope of Hamlin Garland’s kindness of heart. After college I’d been writing industriously for years but to no effect whatever except to produce an interminable drizzle of printed rejection slips; ...

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[Letter about Garland and His Brother, 1950]

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pp. 192-194

I think it would be hard to find two brothers so bound together with the bonds of love as these two men. And in some ways they are quite alike. They both detested all things common — all things coarse. They hated to see women smoke, drink, or swear. Slacks, shorts were most disgusting. ...

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From Dome of Many-Coloured Glass (1955)

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pp. 195-196

One incident connected with the garden party we regretted. Hamlin Garland, ever since the old days of the Sign o’ the Lanthorn Club, had been a close friend of Wheeler’s. He had come to London, with his wife and their two daughters, for a stay of some weeks and Wheeler had put the quartet on the list. ...

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[A Literary Tribute, 1960]

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pp. 197-198

It 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; ...

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[A Tribute from a McClure’s Apprentice, 1960]

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pp. 199-240

Your 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. ...

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[A Tribute from Garland’s MacmillanEditor, 1960]

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pp. 200-201

I have 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. ...

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[On Garland and His Fans, 1960]

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pp. 202-203

As 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. ...

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“Hamlin Garland and the University ofSouthern California” (1960)

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pp. 204-205

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. ...

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[On Garland’s Early Praise, 1960]

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pp. 206-247

The 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. ...

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“Like the Postman, Fame Rang His Doorbell Twice” (1960)

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pp. 207-209

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, ...

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[A Tribute from the Editor of the Rotarian, 1960]

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pp. 210-211

I first 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 hat. ...

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[Garland as a Father, 1960]

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pp. 212-213

I know, 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. ...

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[On Garland’s Later Years, 1960]

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pp. 214-216

My 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. ...

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[A Tribute from the Editor of Bookman, 1960]

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pp. 217-219

Memory 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,1 or, perhaps, I just met him at a party. We soon became staunch friends. ...

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From My Life in Publishing (1965)

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pp. 220-223

Hamlin Garland is first, perhaps because, as I look out of my New Jersey study window, I see green trees, a garden, and distant hills, and I am reminded of the Catskills and Onteora, where I spent several summers in close association with him. ...

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From An Autobiography (1965)

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pp. 224-265

In those days visiting was possible still with servants and roomy old houses like Hamlin Garland’s house at Onteora, to which he also invited me, though I could not go there. 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 about 1848. ...

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From “A Memoir: Hamlin Garland” (1968)

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pp. 225-232

Garland was a superlative lecturer. He cultivated accents, inflections, idioms, timing, delivery, tones, pauses, rhythms of speech and such vocal nuances with the same loving care and aura of perfection as a dedicated rose grower exhibits for the blooms in his garden. He loved Mark Twain, and J. W. Riley; ...

Works Cited

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pp. 233-238


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pp. 239-242


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pp. 243-250

E-ISBN-13: 9781609381745
Print-ISBN-13: 9781609381622

Page Count: 292
Publication Year: 2013