Edwin Markham

Updated September 23, 2019 | Infoplease Staff

Markham, Edwin



Born at Oregon City, Oregon, April 23, 1852. Removed at an early age to California, where his childhood was spent upon a ranch in herding sheep and riding the ranges after the cattle. Later, when the cattle ranges turned into farms, he worked in the fields and in autumn joined the threshers on their route from farm to farm. During his boyhood he attended school but three months in the year, but later studied at San José Normal School and the University of California. His first books were earned, when a lad on the ranch, by ploughing a twenty-acre lot at a dollar an acre and investing the entire sum in the works of the great poets. Thereafter, when he rode the ranges, he balanced his saddle bags with Keats and Shelley. It was, indeed, largely due to the democracy of Shelley, coupled with his own early experiences, that his genius took the social bent which distinguishes it. After leaving the University, Mr. Markham became a teacher in California and was principal and superintendent of several schools until 1899, when he sprang suddenly into fame by the publication in the "San Francisco Examiner" of his poem "The Man With the Hoe". This poem, crystallizing as it did the spirit of the time, and emphasizing one's obligation to Society, became the impulse of the whole social movement in poetry, a movement which largely prevailed during the early years of the twentieth century. After the great success of "The Man With the Hoe", Mr. Markham removed from California to New York City, where he has since been engaged in literary work. His volumes of poetry in their order are: "The Man With the Hoe, and Other Poems", 1899; "Lincoln, and Other Poems", 1901; "The Shoes of Happiness", 1915.

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