Miller, Emily (Clark) Huntington

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MILLER, Emily (Clark) Huntington

Born 22 October 1833, Brooklyn, Connecticut; died 2 November 1913, Northfield, Minnesota

Daughter of Thomas and Paulina Clark Huntington; married John Edwin Miller, 1860; children: three sons

One of five children, Emily Huntington Miller attended local schools in Connecticut and completed her education at Oberlin College. Miller had three sons who survived to adulthood.

From 1867 to 1871 Miller was associate editor of Little Corporal, a Chicago juvenile periodical. After her husband acquired control of the magazine in 1871, Miller became editor-in-chief, retaining the position until the magazine was absorbed by St. Nicholas in 1875. During these years, Miller was also active in the Chautauqua movement, serving as president of the Chautauqua Woman's Club and writing for the Chautauquan. In 1874, Miller helped found the Women's Christian Temperance Union.

From 1878 to 1891 Miller lived in St. Paul, Minnesota. For six years she was president of the Methodist Women's Foreign Missionary Society of Minneapolis. Miller was dean of women at Northwestern University (1891-98) and taught English literature there until 1900.

Throughout her career as editor, administrator, and teacher, Miller wrote poetry, children's stories, and adult fiction as well as producing numerous articles for leading American magazines.

Many of Miller's children's books first appeared as serials in Little Corporal. These stories combine adventure, often in the form of travel, with sufficient piety to make them attractive to the Sunday-school movement. The Royal Road to Fortune (1869) illustrates this formula. Jimmy Marvin, a homeless ten-year-old orphan, finds a card bearing the inscription, "The hand of the diligent maketh rich." From then on diligence—not, however, unaided by good fortune—allows him to progress from sweeping crossings to selling newspapers to bootblacking and ultimately to owning his own farm. It is significant that his social advancement occurs as he moves west, journeying from New York to Ohio to Idaho.

Three volumes of the "Kirkwood Library" use variants of the same formula. Summer Days at Kirkwood (1877) is a tale of family fun in a country house near a large lake. The story is episodic in structure, and the tone is free of fervent piety. A Year at Riverside Farm (1877) attractively describes the sobering of exuberant Barbie Williams, who has grown to dislike the dull routine of farm life. The realistic portrait of the adolescent girl and Miller.'s familiarity with rural life compensate somewhat for the fact that the girl's adventures are not really very exciting. Uncle Dick's Legacy (1877), by contrast, is an adventure tale of two boys traveling in the wilds of Michigan to find the homestead their uncle has left them. Despite the interesting journey, the tale is unsuccessful because the picturesque characters are overdrawn and the boys themselves are colorless creatures.

In Captain Fritz, His Friends and Adventures (1877) Miller abandoned the child protagonist and scriptural quotations. Captain Fritz, a performing French poodle, narrates his turbulent life from the vantage point of serene old age, describing with some puzzlement the neglect and cruelty he has suffered. The story is clever and warmhearted, teaching kindness without resort to moral asides.

Miller's ventures into adult fiction and drama also put her pen at the service of religion. The Parish of Fair Haven (1876) is a faintly disguised tract supporting missionary work. The Little Lad of Bethlehem Town (1911), a nativity play in blank verse, attempts to deal with traditional material in a fresh way, but slips into pathos and sentimentality.

Miller's best-known volume of poetry, From Avalon, and Other Poems (1896), contains forty lyrics on such conventional subjects as death, religion, love, motherhood, and nature. Miller's tone is often moralistic and her mood melancholy; in her response to nature, however, she occasionally achieves a genuine lyric quality.

Miller was a minor writer whose copious output was often merely a vehicle to express religious and social interests. But in a few of Miller's children's books, she successfully combined entertainment with moral instruction.

Other Works:

What Tommy Did (1876). Little Neighbors (1878). Debt and Credit (1886). Kathie's Experience (1886). What Happened on a Christmas Eve (1888). The King's Messengers (1891). Helps and Hinderances (1892). Girls' Book of Treasures (1894). Home Talks about the Word (1894). Songs from the Nest: From Avalon, and Other Poems (1896). For the Beloved (n.d.).


Darling, F. L., The Rise of Children's Book Reviewing in America, 1865-1881 (1968). Literary Writings in America: A Bibliography (1977).

Reference works:


Other references:

PW (15 Dec. 1877).


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Miller, Emily (Clark) Huntington

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