Garland, Hamlin, 1860-1940

Alternative names
Birth 1860-09-14
Death 1940-03-04

Biographical notes:

Hamlin Garland was the author of Son of the middle border, Daughter of the middle border, and other works.

From the description of Papers of Hamlin Garland, 1757-1973 (bulk 1910-1941). (Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens). WorldCat record id: 122369311

Novelist and writer.

From the description of Hamlin Garland autograph letter signed, 1892. (Maine Historical Society Library). WorldCat record id: 214329366

American novelist and dramatist.

From the description of Letter, [19--?] Jan. 27, [Chicago?] to Irving K. Pond [Chicago?] (University of Michigan). WorldCat record id: 34364231

American novelist, poet, essayist, and short story writer.

From the description of Hamlin Garland letters, 1900s. (University of California, Berkeley). WorldCat record id: 215225309

Hamlin Garland (1860-1940), an author who put his own part of the country on the literary map, is best remembered by the title he gave his autobiography, Son of the Middle Border. Gaining his spurs with a successful collection of grimly naturalistic 'down home' stories in 1891, Garland came to prominence just as the "frontier" mentality was losing out to the waves of settlement in California and the West. Garland, however, looked to his roots in Wisconsin and the Upper Midwest, urging the idea that this, too, had been borderland in his own lifetime. In later years Garland wrote extensively about Indian affairs, conservation, art, and literary trends; he also expanded his geographic range to include romances of the Far West, yet it was his reminiscences of his early years which stamped him in the public mind, and to which he turned again and again for inspiration. Such was Garland's prestige after election to the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1918, and after winning the Pulitzer Prize for biography in 1922, that he acceded to the unofficial title of "Dean of American Letters" at a time (the age of Hemingway, O'Neill, Faulkner, Dos Passos, Fitzgerald) when his own writing was growing conspicuously out of date. In his later years, Garland moved to Los Angeles, residing on DeMille Drive in Hollywood. He lectured at USC in the mid-1930s; and his personal library along with some 8000 letters from fellow writers, publishers, and admirers came to USC after Garland's death, forming the cornerstone of the American Literature Collection.

From the description of Hamlin Garland Collection, 1890-1990. (San Leandro Community Library). WorldCat record id: 45119899

American writer.

From the description of Letter [manuscript] : Hollywood, California, to Mr. Bush, 1939 August 18. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647806093

Author and dramatist.

From the description of Hamlin Garland papers, 1904-1940. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70980365

American novelist.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : [New York], to Mr. Maynard, 1897 Nov. 12. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 269573949

From the description of Autograph letters signed (19) and typewritten letters signed (3) : various places, to various correspondents, 1893 Mar. 18-1922 Nov. 25. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 269589147

American novelist and essayist.

From the description of Hamlin Garland papers [microform]. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 495526657

Hamlin Garland was an American author, specializing in novels and stories of the American west. Born in Wisconsin, his family moved about the Midwest; a sojourn in Boston in 1884 was influential. He wrote sentimental adventure stories with melodramatic plots, although his earliest efforts, known as the Middle Border stories, proved controversial when local inhabitants objected to his uncomplimentary depiction. He published novels, short stories, non-fiction, and articles, many written in haste for financial remuneration, and is remembered as an early and important voice among local-color writers.

From the description of Hamlin Garland letters, 1894-1927? (Pennsylvania State University Libraries). WorldCat record id: 61104036

Novelist, essayist and short story writer; Pulitzer Prize recipient, 1921.

From the description of Letters, [ca. 1900-1925]. (University of Arizona). WorldCat record id: 29251640

American author.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : "The Players," to Mr. F.A. Duneka of Harper & Brothers, [1910] Feb. 17. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 269581214

American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and memoirist.

From the description of Letter, [19--?]. (Denver Public Library). WorldCat record id: 52600651

Hamlin Garland (1860-1940) was an American author and short story writer. He was awarded the 1922 Pulizer Prize for his book, A Daughter of the Middle Border .

From the guide to the Hamlin Garland Letter, Undated, (Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries)

Historical note

By the terms of his bequest, a large part of Hamlin Garland's library came to the University of Southern California in 1939-40. The author died in March of 1940, and in November the University Library announced the acquisition by purchase of Garland's personal papers and correspondence. Although he had drawn quite close to USC during his final decade, receiving an honorary doctorate from the University in 1935, Garland long held out the idea of placing his papers with an institution in the East or Mid-West, geographically closer to the parts of the country he most closely identified with. He left final disposition of the archive to Mrs. Garland, however, who saw the merit of adding her husband's papers to the USC library's growing American Literature collection.

In the years immediately following, much Garland material was retrieved by USC which the author had loaned for exhibition. His first scholarly biographer, Eldon C. Hill at the the University of Miami (Ohio), also returned letters, books, and manuscripts which Hamlin Garland had placed at his disposal during the writing of Hill's dissertation. The Garland Collection moved out of cartons and file cabinets after 1950, when Professor Bruce E. McElderry (English) assumed the task of describing and analyzing the entire archive. Concurrently, Lloyd Arvidson of the library staff, with particular responsibility for the American Literature holdings, was preparing his Bibliography of the Published Writings of Hamlin Garland; and it became his next goal to draw up the detailed checklist of the Garland Collection, which the library published as a paper-bound octavo booklet in 1962. This checklist is now made available for the first time in electronic form.

Through the good offices of Professor Mark Rocha, an addendum to the Garland Collection was acquired in 1988, consisting for the most part of family memorabilia (photographs, scrapbooks, personal correspondence) belonging to Garland's two daughters.

John B. Ahouse American Literature Curator University of Southern California October 8, 1999

From the guide to the Hamlin Garland papers, 1890-1940, (USC Libraries Special Collections)


Born in 1860 and raised on farms in Wisconsin and the mid-west, Hamlin Garland was provided early on with the practical experience of farm and mid-western life that was to become the foundation for his realistic style of writing. Both his fictional and non-fictional accounts of farm life were hailed by the literary world as thankful deviations from the romantic norms. In many ways, Garland was ahead of his time. Not only did his view of farm life as oppressive contrast with his contemporaries, but also his opinions regarding the status of women seem more likely to stem from the 1970's than the 1870's. Many critics of Garland lament what they see as his subsequent abandonment of the realistic fire of his youth after his marriage to Zulime Mauna (Taft) Garland in 1899. Others attribute the mellowing of his reformist fires to the natural mellowing of age. Still others state that he never gave up his radical views in favor of more mainstream (and hence more publishable and profitable) ideas; he merely presented his realistic views in a more subtle manner. However, none can contest the fact that Garland's later work certainly seemed to look back on mid-western farm life rather selectively and with at least rose-tined, if not rose-colored, glasses.

Garland's literary career did not begin until 1884 when he left the West for Boston. He was just able to support himself teaching and lecturing on literature, and writing for journals such as the Transcript, American Magazine, Harper's Weekly, and Century. Only a portion of his writing dealt with reviewing or discussing literature; mainly Garland expressed his own views of life in the West through fiction, non-fiction, and verse. His early writings were praised for their accurate depiction of farm life in the mid-west and the daily degradation and deprivation of farm work. While mentally and literarily pursuing his notions of the dreadful nature of farm life, he began to focus on his own family's experience in the mid-west. His famous Son of the Middle Border was based on the life of his father, Richard Garland, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Daughter of the Middle Border traced the homestead life of his mother, Isabelle Charlotte (McClintock) Garland. The popularity of these books prompted him to continue putting his family saga down on paper. The result was a series of books that cover his father's boyhood, his parents' lives, and his own life until roughly 1928.

In the midst of Garland's literary love/hate affair with the West, he married Zulime Mauna Taft, sister to sculptor Lorado Taft. Though he housed his family in the cities of Chicago and New York, he took them to West Salem or to upstate New York to spend summers. Garland desired his two children, Mary Isabel (Garland) Johnson Lord and Constance (Garland) Harper Doyle, to know the history of their family and to spend time in the mid-western outdoors where he had learned both the hardships and the benefits of hard work outdoors.

Garland spent the last 10 years of his life residing in Hollywood and being occupied mainly with his psychic pursuits. He also continued to write articles and books, and to give lectures for various literary groups. He died on March 5, 1940.

From the guide to the Hamlin Garland Papers, 1757-1973, (bulk 1910-1941), (The Huntington Library)


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  • Male authors, American--19th century--Correspondence
  • Single tax
  • Authors, American--20th century--Archives
  • Literature--American Fiction
  • Authors, American--Correspondence
  • Authors, American--19th century--Archives
  • American literature--20th century
  • Authors, American--Archival resources
  • Authors--20th century--Correspondence
  • Garland, Hamlin--1860-1940--Archives
  • Male authors, American--20th century--Correspondence
  • Reading


  • Novelists--United States
  • Novelists, American
  • Dramatists
  • Authors


  • United States (as recorded)
  • New York (N.Y.) (as recorded)