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Dictionary of Wisconsin History

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Term: Garland, Hamlin 1860 - 1940


novelist, short-story writer, poet, essayist; b. near West Salem, Wisconsin, and grew up on homesteads in Iowa and South Dakota before moving to Boston in 1884. His short stories, Main-Travelled Roads (1891), Prairie Folks (1893), and Wayside Courtships (1897), provided realistic glimpses of Midwestern farm life. He moved to Chicago in 1893 where he lectured on literary topics and agitated for realistic American literature through a number of essays. In 1895, he traveled West, taking notes on cowboys, Indians, and the mountain scenery which he later used in The Book of the American Indian (1923) and in a series of romances about the mountain west, the most successful of which was The Captain of the Gray-Horse Troop (1902). In 1896, he received a commission to write a biography of Ulysses S. Grant which was serialized in McClure's Magazine before appearing in book form in 1898.  He married Zulime Taft in 1899. Moving to New York in 1915, he published the two books for which is perhaps best remembered, A Son of the Middle Border (1917) and A Daughter of the Middle Border (1921), which won the Pulitzer prize in 1921. Two more volumes followed: Trail-Makers of the Middle Border (1926) and Back-Trailers from the Middle Border (1928). He moved to Hollywood, California, in 1929 and spent his remaining years studying psychic phenomena and wrote two books on the subject: Forty Years of Psychic Research (1936) and The Mystery of Buried Crosses (1939).  He died on March 4, 1940.

The Wisconsin Historical Society has manuscripts related to this topic. See the catalog description of the Hamlin Garland Papers for details.

View a related article at Wisconsin Magazine of History Archives.

View newspaper clippings at Wisconsin Local History and Biography Articles.

[Source: Hamlin Garland Society (]

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