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Garland, (Hannibal) Hamlin

GARLAND, (Hannibal) Hamlin

Nationality: American. Born: Near the city of West Salem, Wisconsin, 14 September 1860. Education: Cedar Valley Seminary, Osage, Iowa, 1876-81. Family: Married Zulime Taft in 1899; two daughters. Career: Taught at a country school, Grundy County, Ohio, 1882-83; homesteader in McPherson County, Dakota Territory, 1883-84; student, then teacher, Boston School of Oratory, 1884-91. Full-time writer from 1891. Lived in Chicago, 1893-1916, New York, 1916-30, and Los Angeles, 1930-40. Founding president, Cliff Dwellers, Chicago, 1907. Awards: Pulitzer prize, for biography, 1922; Roosevelt Memorial Association gold medal, 1931. D.Litt: University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1926; Northwestern University, Evanston, Illinois, 1933; University of Southern California, Los Angeles, 1937. Member: American Academy, 1918 (director, 1920). Died: 5 March 1940.


Short Stories

Main-Travelled Roads: Six Mississippi Valley Stories. 1891; revised edition, 1899, 1922, 1930; edited by Thomas A. Bledsoe, 1954.

Prairie Folks. 1893; revised edition, 1899.

Wayside Courtships. 1897.

Other Main-Travelled Roads (includes Prairie Folks and Wayside Courtships). 1910.

They of the High Trails. 1916.


A Member of the Third House. 1892.

Jason Edwards: An Average Man. 1892.

A Little Norsk; or, Ol' Pap's Flaxen. 1892.

A Spoil of Office. 1892.

Rose of Dutcher's Coolly. 1895; revised edition, 1899; edited by Donald Pizer, 1969.

The Spirit of Sweetwater. 1898; revised edition, as Witch's Gold, 1906.

The Eagle's Heart. 1900.

Her Mountain Lover. 1901.

The Captain of the Gray-Horse Troop. 1902.

Hesper. 1903.

The Light of the Star. 1904.

The Tyranny of the Dark. 1905.

Money Magic. 1907; as Mart Haney's Mate, 1922.

The Moccasin Ranch. 1909.

Cavanagh, Forest Ranger. 1910.

Victor Ollnee's Discipline. 1911.

The Forester's Daughter. 1914.


Under the Wheel. 1890.


Prairie Songs. 1893.

Iowa, O Iowa! 1935.


Crumbling Idols: Twelve Essays on Art. 1894; edited by Jane Johnson, 1960.

Ulysses S. Grant: His Life and Character. 1898.

The Trail of the Goldseekers: A Record of Travel in Prose and Verse. 1899.

Boy Life on the Prairie. 1899; revised edition, 1908.

The Long Trail (for children). 1907.

The Shadow World. 1908.

A Son of the Middle Border. 1917; edited by Henry M. Christman, 1962.

A Daughter of the Middle Border. 1921.

A Pioneer Mother. 1922.

Commemorative Tribute to James Whitcomb Riley. 1922.

The Book of the American Indian. 1923.

Trail-Makers of the Middle Border. 1926.

The Westward March of American Settlement. 1927.

Back-Trailers from the Middle Border. 1928.

Prairie Song and Western Story (miscellany). 1928.

Roadside Meetings. 1930.

Companions on the Trail: A Literary Chronicle. 1931.

My Friendly Contemporaries: A Literary Log. 1932.

Afternoon Neighbors: Further Excerpts from a Literary Log. 1934.

Joys of the Trail. 1935.

Forty Years of Psychic Research: A Plain Narrative of Fact. 1936.

The Mystery of the Buried Crosses: A Narrative of Psychic Exploration. 1939.

Diaries, edited by Donald Pizer. 1968.

Observations on the American Indian 1895-1905, edited by Lonnie E. Underhill and Daniel F. Littlefield, Jr. 1976.



Garland and the Critics: An Annotated Bibliography by Jackson R. Bryer and Eugene Harding, 1973; Henry Blake Fuller and Garland: A Reference Guide by Charles L. P. Silet, 1977.

Critical Studies:

Garland: A Biography by Jean Holloway, 1960; Garland's Early Work and Career by Donald Pizer, 1960; Garland: L'homme et l'oeuvre by Robert Mane, 1968; Garland: The Far West by Robert Gish, 1976; Garland by Joseph B. McCullough, 1978; Critical Essays on Garland edited by James Nagel, 1982; The Critical Reception of Garland 1891-1978 edited by Charles L. P. Silet and Robert E. Welch, 1985; "Melodramatist of the Middle Border: Hamlin Garland's Early Work Reconsidered" by Keith Newlin, in Studies in American Fiction, Autumn 1993, pp.153-69; "The Popular, the Populist, and the Populace: Locating Hamlin Garland in the Politics of Culture" by Bill Brown, in Arizona Quarterly: A Journal of American Literature, Culture, and Theory, Autumn 1994, pp. 89-110.

* * *

Hamlin Garland's position in the American literary canon is secure, mostly as a proponent and practitioner of American literary realism. His work on the aesthetics of the movement, Crumbling Idols, advanced the theory of "veritism" that represented the truths, austere as they may be, of ordinary people in the daily routines of their besieged lives.

His own experiences as a "son of the middle border," reflective both of hard times and ambitions for a better life, provided the basis for his best writings—whether as pure autobiography or autobiographical fiction. For example, Garland's hopes and fears for his mother, who led a hard existence in Dakota territory, during the farm depression of the 1880s, gave rise to his most celebrated collection of short stories, Main-Travelled Roads. Other important works include his early novel Rose of Dutcher's Coolly, and two of his autobiographies, A Son of the Middle Border and the Pulitzer-prize winning A Daughter of the Middle Border.

Garland both imagined and lived his own life myth of the ever-ambitious, always-striving youth, turning first to the promises of the literary establishment of the East and then to the hope and horizon of the West. In the process, he not only wrote some of the most representative stories of rural Midwestern existence at the turn of the century, he more or less discovered, and certainly advanced, the western novel. His enthusiasm for the American dream (including his Klondike and Dakota gold rush adventures) took a highly romantic form in his western writings.

Main-Travelled Roads offers ample evidence of Garland's realistic/romantic ambivalence and equivocations, seen in his ability to universalize the local and the regional and to expand the conventions and expectations of the nineteenth century into the real and imagined transitions of the twentieth century.

Garland's often-reprinted story "Under the Lion's Paw" serves as a complementary metaphor to his title Main-Travelled Roads. His characters are life-weary and are victimized, almost rodent-like in the face of the lion-like powers. In "Under the Lion's Paw" Tim Haskins and his wife, Nettie, migrate to Iowa from Kansas, driven out by crop-devouring grasshoppers and looking for a better life. The Haskins are befriended by Steven Council and his wife, Sarah, who served as examples of successful land ownership. Haskins and his family do find a farm but suffer the exploitations of land speculator Jim Butler. When Butler increases the price of the farm—due to Haskins's own improvements—Haskins consents to pay, but with an anger that emotionally places Butler under the "paw" of Haskins.

Similar ambivalences and mitigations exist in "Among the Corn Rows," "A Branch Road," "Up the Coulee," "Mrs. Ripley's Trip," "A "Good Fellow's' Wife," and others of Garland's stories. In "Branch Road" Garland's typical rescue plot mirrors the way he sought to save his own mother from the toil of farm life, a theme he uses at length in The Moccasin Ranch.

"Up the Coulee" is another manifestation of Garland's need to write about his mother's hard life. In the story Howard McLane returns from the city to find his "dear old mother" and his younger brother in relative poor straits, compared to his own good fortune. "Among the Corn Rows" presents a variation on the Cinderella motif as a bachelor, Rob Rodemaker, seeks out Julia Peterson, affording her the "rescue" of marriage.

For contemporary readers the rural interludes in Garland's stories no doubt seem overly sentimental in places. What shines through, however, is a sincere, if opportune, discovery of voice and theme that reveals Garland as a Midwestern writer determined to reconcile his life with his efforts as an artist.

—Robert Franklin Gish

See the essay on "The Return of a Private."

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