Papers of Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1843-1989
Conditions Governing Use
Copying. Papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures.
3 linear feet ((3 cartons) plus 3 folio folders, 1 oversize folder)
Series I (#1-15). Personal and biographical, includes, photographs of Wilcox and Robert Marius Wilcox, their friends, actors and actresses, and their travels in Mexico, India, Jamaica, Europe and the United States. Also included are genealogical notes, financial accounts, and estate papers.
Series II (#16-54). Literary papers consists of manuscript and typescript copies of Wilcox's poems and plays; typescript and printed versions of articles; Wilcox's correspondence with publishers, and poems about Wilcox by others.
Series III (#55-95). Personal correspondence includes, courtship and other letters to and from her husband, 1882-1916, one spirit communication after his death, 1916, and other correspondence with family and friends. Robert Marius Wilcox was frequently away from home on business and Wilcox's letters to him describe her literary and social life in New York City and throw light on her literary career, reading, and other interests.
Series IV (#96-106). Papers of Robert Marius Wilcox includes, scattered family and business correspondence, and notes and drafts of his writings.
She attended the University of Wisconsin for one year in 1867. Her first major publication was Maurine (1876), a sentimental verse narrative. She became notorious in 1883 when a Chicago publisher refused to publish her love poems. Poems of Passion, published later that year by another Chicago publisher, was a popular success.
On May 2, 1884, Wilcox married Robert Marius Wilcox, an executive of the International Silver Company. They settled first in Meriden, Connecticut, and later divided their time between New York City and Short Beach, Connecticut. Their only child died a few hours after birth in 1887. Robert Marius Wilcox died in 1916.
Wilcox wrote poems, plays (with collaborators), and newspaper articles. In 1901, Wilcox covered Queen Victoria's funeral for the New York Journal, and in 1902, Cosmopolitan hired her to write on women and women's suffrage. During World War I, she toured army camps in France to read her poems and lecture on sexual conduct. Her poems, while popular with the general public, were judged by critics to be facile and sentimental. However, her poetry appeared in magazines along with Edward Markham's and Rudyard Kipling's.
Wilcox and her husband became interested in spiritualism after the death of their son, and she was honorary president of the International New Thought Alliance. She claimed to communicate with the spirits of her husband and son after their deaths. In 1906, she organized a village improvement society, called White Wings, to beautify Short Beach, Conn. She was an enthusiastic hostess and made Short Beach a center of literary life. She died in 1919 of cancer.
For further biographical information see Notable American Women, 1607-1950 (1971), volume 3.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
These papers of Ella Wheeler Wilcox were given to the Schlesinger Library by Frances L. Collins, Ella Wheeler Wilcox's second cousin, in November 1988 and January, March, and June 1989.
- Carton 1: Folders 10-31v
- Carton 2: Folders 32v-66
- Carton 3: Folders 67-106
By: Lucy Thoma
- American literature--19th century
- American poetry--Women authors
- Censorship--United States
- New York (N.Y.)--Social life and customs
- Short Beach (Conn.)--Social life and customs
- World War, 1914-1918--Women--United States
- Wilcox, Ella Wheeler, 1850-1919. Papers of Ella Wheeler Wilcox, 1843-1989: A Finding Aid
- Arthur and Elizabeth Schlesinger Library on the History of Women in America
- EAD ID
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