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Introduction hamlin garland (1860–1940) is remembered today chiefly for two books:Main-Travelled Roads (1891),an innovative collection of stories that sought to depict the actual working life of midwestern farmers,and his autobiography A Son of the Middle Border (1917),a remarkably honest and moving account of his rise from life on a frontier farm to international celebrity.During the 1890s Garland achieved considerable prominence as a literary radical who agitated for realistic fiction and drama that celebrated the commonplace even as it underscored the discrepancies between the haves and have-nots. His vitality and commitment led him to an astonishingly productive career,which he inaugurated by flooding the nation’s magazines with stories, poems, and a number of controversial essays arguing for progress of all sorts—in literature, in women’s rights, and especially in the Single Tax, a proposal to alter a tax system that favored wealthy landowners at the expense of small farmers. Garland was the author of more than forty books, and his early years were especially prolific: in 1892 alone he published four novels, Jason Edwards, A Member of the Third House, A Little Norsk, and A Spoil of Office. The publication in 1894 of his literary manifesto, Crumbling Idols, crowned his reputation as a literary radical, for in it he argued that writers needed to shrug off their reliance upon eastern and British masters to realize their identity as American writers with an intimate connection to the land. When Rose of Dutcher’s Coolly appeared in 1895, reviewers promptly pounced on his, for the time, graphic portrayal of a girl’s emerging sexuality.Tiring of the personal assaults the novel occasioned and equally weary of the attacks caused by Crumbling Idols, Garland cast about for new literary material. In 1898 he published a well-regarded biography, Ulysses S.Grant: His Life and Character, before turning to western romances, of which readers ix Garland_Daughter_to press 10/20/06 3:43 PM Page ix and reviewers largely approved.By the 1910s Garland had grown weary of writing fiction, and in 1917, after a long, painful, and complicated process, he completed A Son of the Middle Border, discovering a fulfillment in autobiography that was to occupy him for the next twenty-three years.The success of Son, in which he told the story of his life until 1893, led to two additional sequences of installments.The first continues his personal story in the middle border books: A Daughter of the Middle Border (1921), which carries his autobiography until 1914 and the death of his father; Trail-Makers of the Middle Border (1926), a semifictional prequel to Son that relates his father’s life until his return from the Civil War; and Back-Trailers from the Middle Border (1928), which carries the family saga to the year 1927 and the marriage of his second daughter.The second sequence comprises his literary logbooks, based on the daily diary he had begun in 1898.The logbooks largely recount his meetings with authors and other celebrities,interspersed with the daily events of a busy author and lecturer.They include Roadside Meetings (1930),Companions on the Trail (1931), My Friendly Contemporaries (1932), and Afternoon Neighbors (1934). Garland actively involved himself in American literary life both as a writer and as a member of America’s literary elite. He was an inveterate traveler, crisscrossing the continent innumerable times as he lectured throughout the country. In 1898, for instance , he made an arduous overland trek to the Klondike Gold Rush to gather literary material. He befriended and interviewed Indians, as well, preserving their traditions in stories later gathered in The Book of the American Indian (1923), and acted to alter government policies that sought to deprive them of their lands. Garland was also privileged to have known many of America’s most important writers and statesmen, among them Stephen Crane,Walt Whitman,Mark Twain,William Dean Howells,James Whitcomb Riley, John Burroughs, Edith Wharton, Henry James, Theodore Roosevelt,Will Rogers,and Zane Grey;as his celebrity spread he also came to know George Bernard Shaw, James M. Barrie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Joseph Conrad, and Rudyard Kipling, among many others. He founded or helped establish a number of cultural organizations devoted to encouraging and rewarding literary achievement, among them the American Acadhamlin garlan d x Garland_Daughter_to press 10/20/06 3:43 PM Page x emy of Arts and Letters,the Authors’ League of America,the Midland Authors Society, the Cliff Dwellers, and...


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