This is a HANDWRITTEN SIGNED POEM in dialect by American author James Whitcomb Riley (October 1849 – July 1916) dated July 18,1895, framed. We are including the antique book RILEY FARM RHYMES by JAMES WHITCOMB RILEY.
SIZE: 5 unches by 3 and 1/4 omches.
CONDITION: Good. Age yellowing.
PROVENANCE: Chait Gallery.
James Whitcomb Riley (October 7, 1849 – July 22, 1916) was an American writer, poet, and best selling author. During his lifetime he was known as the Hoosier Poet and Children's Poet for his dialect works and his children's poetry respectively. His poems tended to be humorous or sentimental, and of the approximately one thousand poems that Riley authored, the majority are in dialect. His famous works include "Little Orphant Annie" and "The Raggedy Man".
Riley began his career writing verses as a sign maker and submitting poetry to newspapers. Thanks in part to an endorsement from poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, he eventually earned successive jobs at Indiana newspaper publishers during the latter 1870s. Riley gradually rose in prominence during the 1880s through his poetry reading tours. He traveled a touring circuit first in the Midwest, and then nationally, holding shows and making joint appearances on stage with other famous talents. Regularly struggling with his alcohol addiction, Riley never married or had children, and was involved in a scandal in 1888 when he became too drunk to perform. He became more popular in spite of the bad press he received, and as a result extricated himself from poorly negotiated contracts that limited his earnings; he quickly became very wealthy.
Riley became a bestselling author in the 1890s. His children's poems were compiled into a book and illustrated by Howard Chandler Christy. Titled the Rhymes of Childhood, the book was his most popular and sold millions of copies. As a poet, Riley achieved an uncommon level of fame during his own lifetime. He was honored with annual Riley Day celebrations around the United States and was regularly called on to perform readings at national civic events. He continued to write and hold occasional poetry readings until a stroke paralyzed his right arm in 1910.
Riley was among the most popular and best-loved writers of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, known for his "uncomplicated, sentimental, and humorous" writing. Often writing his verses in dialect, his poetry caused readers to recall a nostalgic and simpler time in earlier American history. This gave his poetry a unique appeal during a period of rapid industrialization and urbanization in the United States. Riley was a prolific writer who "achieved mass appeal partly due to his canny sense of marketing and publicity." He published more than fifty books, mostly of poetry and humorous short stories, and sold millions of copies.
AMERICA'S GREATEST CRITIC OF THE NINETEENTH CENTURY, HAMLIN GARLAND, HAD TO SAY OF HIM IN A RECOLLECTION FOR THE NEW YORK BASED AMERICAN ACADEMY OF ARTS AND LETTERS (1922) "He taught us once again the fundamental truth which we were long in learning here in America, that there is a poetry of common things as well as of epic deeds."
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