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Selected Poetry of Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850-1919)


from Representative Poetry On-line
Prepared by members of the Department of English at the University of Toronto
from 1912 to the present and published by the University of Toronto Press from 1912 to 1967.
RPO Edited by Ian Lancashire
A UTEL (University of Toronto English Library) Edition
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries
© 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto

Index to poems

  1. The Little White Hearse
  2. Solitude


Notes on Life and Works

Ella Wheeler, poet, novelist, and spiritualist, born November 5, 1850, in Johnstown Center, Wisconsin, was educated at home and at the University of Wisconsin. For a quarter-century from her first volume of pro-temperance poems, Drops of Water (1872), she wrote sentimentally and prolifically about the conventional family, where the man earns the living and the woman stays at home and bears children. Her works proved very popular in America. One book, Poems of Passion, enjoyed 60,000 sales over the first two years after publishers first refused to put it out, the idea that women had passions being corrupt. Ella Wheeler married a manufacturer, Robert Wilcox, in 1884. By the end of the century, although this marriage was a happy one, her ideas about women's lot had become less rosy. After his death, she set out to contact his spirit and believed that she had succeeded. During World War I she spoke to troups overseas about the family values they were fighting to keep. Her autobiography, The World and I, came out in 1918. A nervous breakdown took her, and then death on October 30, 1919, in Short Beach, Connecticut.

Jenny Ballou's Period Piece: Ella Wheeler Wilcox and her Times (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1940; PS 3313 .B3 Robarts Library) gives a modern biography.

Wilcox's publications include:

Biographical information

Given name: Ella Wheeler
Family name: Wilcox
Maiden name: Wheeler
Birth date: 5 November 1850
Death date: 30 October 1919
Nationality: American
Education: University of Wisconsin
First RPO edition: 1999