In 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.
JOHN MASEFIELD, from Burcote, Abingdon, England, August 21, 1960.
I am 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.
He saw, and took part in, the going westward of the young men, and his books record it unforgettably.
For himself, one will always remember him with joy.
GLADYS HASTY CARROLL, of South Berwick, Maine. At Hollywood, California, January 1, 1934.
An unpublished journal entry, printed with the author's permission.I should like to describe him.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.
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.
VAN WYCK BROOKS, from Bridgewater, Connecticut, September 8, 1960.
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. 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 of 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."
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 distraction.
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
I wish 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, quite serenely.
ISABEL GARLAND LORD, from Sherman Oaks, California, October 9, 1960.
From 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--"
August 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 irresistible.
July 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 another side.
I acknowledge 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.
So, 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.
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."
I like 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.Oh, 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 dream
Of splendid mountains, the gleam of rivers
And the glow of sunset on the vanished plains....
FRANCIS HACKETT, from Virum, Denmark, September 14, 1960.
Hamlin 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.
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 Rose 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.
His America 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.
KATHLEEN NORRIS, from San Francisco, August, 1960.
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. I was stunned with ecstasy. There is no second ecstasy like that. He wrote three lines. "You have something precious. Dickens had it. Keep on."
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!
CONSTANCE GARLAND DOYLE, from Van Nuys, California, October, 1960.
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. 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.
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 keep going!"
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.
VILHJALMUR STEFANSSON, from Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, August 23, 1960.
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.
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.
JOHN FARRAR, from New York City, November 1, 1960.
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, 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.
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.
Mr. 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,
There 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 himself.
And later, in the same article,
Because 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,
Mr. 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.
In December, 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.
Mr. 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!
HAROLD S. LATHAM, from Kearny (Arlington), New Jersey, August 18, 1960.
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.
I remember, 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.
And Garland 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.
HERMANN HAGEDORN, from Santa Barbara, California, October 9, 1960.
"Like 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.
Then, around 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 Borderreceived 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 first.
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 the next.
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.
M. A. DE WOLFE HOWE, from Cambridge, Massachusetts, September 5, 1960.
It 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.
JOSEPHINE LAWRENCE, from Newark, New Jersey, August 22, 1960.
When 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.
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 of us.
HOMER CROY, from New York City, August 19, 1960.
One 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.
"There's a story in that house. I'd like to move in with the family and live there six months," he said.
"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.
WITTER BYNNER, from Santa Fe, New Mexico, August 22, 1960.
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. 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.
Although Garland 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.
LEE SHIPPEY, from Del Mar, California, August 30, 1960.
I remember 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.
Habitually, 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.
LELAND D. CASE, from Chicago, October 10, 1960.
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.
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 vitality.
"The Westerners," 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.
Hamlin Garland 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!
DONALD CULROSS PEATTIE, from Santa Barbara, California, September 27, 1960
I knew 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.
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.
AUGUST DERLETH, from Sauk City, Wisconsin, August 17, 1960.
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; it was published before his death in 1940, I believe.
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.
PAUL JORDAN-SMITH, from Los Angeles, August 19, 1960.
In A 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.
Howells was 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, Main-Travelled 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.
Moreover, it 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.
Hamlin Garland 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 GREEVER, from Los Angeles, August, 1960.
"Hamlin Garland and the University of Southern California"
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.
Epsilon Phi, 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 them.
Mr. Garland's 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.
ROBERT E. SPILLER, from High Valley, Wilmington, Vermont, August 22, 1960.
With 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.
ROBERT MANE, from the Sorbonne, Paris, October 8, 1960.
Hamlin 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.
Indeed, his 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." Quotations are from unpublished correspondence in the Hamlin Garland Papers at the University of Southern California Library.
Altogether, it 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,
Boys, 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. Jim's Pasear Abroad, in the Hamlin Garland Papers.
Garland's fine, 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."
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.
JEAN HOLLOWAY, from Austin, Texas, September 8, 1960.
"Hamlin Garland as Subject for Biography"
Periodically 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.
While Main-Travelled 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 Idolswas 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,
Garland 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. Review of Mrs. Holloway's Hamlin Garland, New York Herald-Tribune, July 17, 1960.
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.
DONALD PIZER, from Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana, September 6, 1960.
In 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."
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 in terms.
Garland's early 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.
ROBERT LOWRY, from New York City, August 19, 1960.
His 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.
Hamlin Garland 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 alone.