Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1850 - 1919

portrait of Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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Born: 5 November 1850, Johnstown, Wisconsin
Died: 30 October 1919, Short Beach, Connecticut

Ella Wheeler was born on her family's farm near Johnstown, Wisconsin, the Wheelers soon moved to Madison. Ella started writing poetry at an early age and was well known as a teenage poet, at least in Wisconsin. She married Robert Wilcox, probably in 1878, their one child died in infancy. The Wilcoxes became interested in Theosophy, New Thought, and Spiritualism, and promised that whoever died first would communicate with the survivor. Almost thirty years later, Ella was overcome by grief when Robert died in 1916 and didn't contact her. At the turn of the century she became one of America's most popular poets, able to support herself through the writing of poetry, but unable to please literary critics. The combination leaves one wondering if she is "a bad major poet" or "a major bad poet", but many of her poems, and verses from them, are still popular today. After deciding she had heard from Robert she resumed writing and did volunteer work in France during WW I. She died of breast cancer at her home.

Biography from Wikipedia and Wisconsin Electronic Reader

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