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Selected Poetry of Graham Lee Hemminger (1895-1950)


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
© 2005, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto

Index to poems

  1. Tobacco is a Dirty Weed


Notes on Life and Works

"Graham Lee Hemminger '17, promotion director of the Topics Publishing Co. and a member of its board of directors, died December 19, at his home at Great Neck, N.Y.

Among Penn Staters, Hemminger is probably best remembered for a bit of doggerel he composed while he was editor of Froth, the campus humor magazine. Faced with two blank inches on page 19 of the November 1915 issue, he penned ["Tobacco is a dirty weed"] ... to fill the white space ....

This bit of untitled poetry caught on and colleges all over the country copied it in their humor publications. It was widely reprinted in newspapers, too, and parodies of it soon appeared -- defending just about everything.

After his graduation, Hemminger (as a direct result of the poem) was offered and accepted a job with an advertising agency in Philadelphia which specialized in tobacco advertising.

Hemminger was born in Nicholson, Pa., in 1895. An expert on drug industry merchandising, he figured in the planning of the trade campaigns of many leading manufacturers. Among his most conspicuous plans was that for Nationally Advertised Brands Week, an industry-wide promotion conducted in October of each year.

He is survived by his wife, his mother, and two daughters." ("Hemminger Dies; Wrote Doggerel," The Penn Stater [Feb. 1950]).

Biographical information

Given name: Graham Lee
Family name: Hemminger
Birth date: 1895
Death date: 19 December 1950
Nationality: American
Education: Pennsylvania State University to 1917
Occupation: Advertising
First RPO edition: 2005