Eugene Field

Eugene Field’s Life

Eugene Field was a well-known American writer, famous for his humorous essays and poetry for children. Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1850, Field was just four when his mother died. From then onward, his cousin, Mary Field French, brought him up in Amherst, Massachusetts. His father, Roswell Martin Field, was an accomplished lawyer, who came to the limelight for representing the case of Dred Scott, a slave, who sued for his liberty. Field filed this complaint in the federal court on Scott’s behalf in St. Louis, Missouri. The case then moved to the American Supreme Court.

After his pre-collegiate schooling, Field studied at Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts. When he turned nineteen, however, his father passed away and the family underwent a financial crisis. Field thus had to drop out of Williams after just eight months there. Later, he went to Knox College in Illinois to complete his studies. However, after a year, he again dropped out and instead entered the University of Missouri, where his brother Roswell was also studying. Field studied law, tried acting with little success, and contributed his writing to the student newspaper. Along with studying at numerous colleges, Field pursued various interests, yet did not take studies seriously. Instead, he became popular for his pranks and jokes.

In search of finding a suitable job, he set out on a trip to Europe and came back to the United Sates after six months without earning any money. Following this, Field started working as a journalist in Missouri for the St. Joseph Gazette in 1875, and eventually started earning money. The same year Field got married to a sixteen-year-old girl, Julia Comstock. Together they had eight children, two of which died as infants, and one in adolescence.

Throughout his adult life Field worked hard, and tried to fulfill his family’s financial needs. He took on many jobs and worked for several newspapers until he landed a good position at the Chicago Daily News, where his column “Sharps and Flats” was a raving success. In 1895, Field died of a heart attack at the age of forty-five in Chicago.

Eugene Field’s Works

Field became famous for his light and humorous articles that were written in a conversational style. Later some papers reprinted them. During this time, he wrote his most prominent poem “Lovers Lane” that was about a street in St. Joseph, Missouri. From 1876 to 1880, he resided in St. Louis; first he worked for the Morning Journal as an editorial writer and afterward worked for the Times-Journal. After a short period of time, he worked as a managing editor for the Kansas City Times, and worked as an editor for two years for the Denver Tribune. In 1883, Field went to Chicago and contributed a comical column “Sharps and Flats” to the Chicago Daily News. This column ran in the morning edition of the newspaper. In 1879, he published his first work of, when his popular poem “Christmas Treasures” was published in “A Little Book of Western Verse.” Later, he published over a dozen volumes of poems containing humorous and light-hearted poetry for children, the most famous of which are “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod” and “The Duel.” He also wrote some short stories, but they did not become as popular as his articles and poems.

Eugene Field’s Style and Popular Poems

The writing style of Eugene Field was light and gossipy. He frequently employed metaphorical language in his poems along with other literary devices such as alliteration, personification, and assonance.

His popular poems include “A Democratic Hymn,” “A Dream of Sunshine,” “A Drinking Song,” “Lullaby,” “A Fickle Woman,” “A Spring Poem from Bion,” “A Valentine,” “Ashes on the Slide,” “Mother and Child,” “Ballad of Woman I Love,” “Be My Sweetheart,” “Dead Roses,” “Jennie,” “Wynken, Blynken and Nod,” “Lollyby, Lolly, Lollyby,” and “Booh.”

More about Him

The poems of Field were used for musical songs and won him commercial success. Field was paid tribute after his death, as his home in St. Louis was converted into a museum on account of his popularity. There is also a memorial associated with his name situated in Lincoln Park in Chicago. Several elementary schools are named after Eugene Field throughout the Midwest. There is a branch of the Denver Public Library that is named after Eugene Field. A dormitory in a residential area of The University of Massachusetts, Amherst is likewise named after Field.