Day, Clarence, 1874-1935

Alternative names
Dates:
Birth 1874-11-18
Death 1935-12-28
Americans
English

Biographical notes:

Author and illustrator Clarence Day, best known for his book Life With Father, was born in New York City on November 18, 1874. He graduated from Yale College in 1896, then worked in his father's brokerage house and served briefly in the U. S. Navy. In 1898 he was stricken with rheumatoid arthritis. He traveled for some years in search of a cure, then settled in New York, where he became active in the alumni affairs of Yale College and launched his writing career. Day's essays, book reviews, short stories, verses and cartoons appeared regularly during the 1910s-30s in Harper's Magazine, The New Republic, The Metropolitan Magazine, The New York American, and The New Yorker. His first book, This Simian World, was published in 1920. Day achieved his greatest popularity during the 1930s with the publication of Life With Father, a series of comic memoirs of family life. Clarence Day died of pneumonia on December 28, 1935.

From the description of Clarence Day papers, 1796-1993, (bulk dates 1890-1935). (New York Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122465327

Day was an American author.

From the description of Papers: 1900-1925. (Waverly Public Library). WorldCat record id: 122632059

The son of a stockbroker, Clarence Day, Jr. was born in New York City, on November 18, 1874. He was educated at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire, before attending Yale College. Upon graduating in 1896, Day followed his father into the stock market, but quickly came to dislike it and joined the navy. After being stricken with arthritis, Day had to leave the navy. Bound to crutches and a wheelchair, he began to write poems and books with some success. It was not until the last year of his life, however, that one of his books, Life with Father, became widely successful, winning awards and reaching the top of nonfiction best-seller lists. Day died of pneumonia on December 28, 1935, in New York City.

From the guide to the Clarence Shepard Day papers, 1894-1947, (Manuscripts and Archives)

American essayist, illustrator, and humorist.

From the description of Correspondence, sketches, and clippings, 1920-1935, n.d. (Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (HRC); University of Texas at Austin). WorldCat record id: 122640510

The son of a stockbroker, Clarence Day, Jr. was born in New York City, on November 18, 1874. He was educated at St. Paul's School in Concord, New Hampshire, before attending Yale College. Upon graduating in 1896, Day followed his father into the stock market, but quickly came to dislike it and joined the navy. After being stricken with arthritis, Day had to leave the navy. Bound to crutches and a wheelchair, he began to write poems and books with some success. It was not until the last year of his life, however, that one of his books, Life with Father, became widely successful, winning awards and reaching the top of non-fiction best-seller lists. Day died of pneumonia on December 28, 1935, in New York City.

From the description of Clarence Shepard Day papers, 1894-1947 (inclusive). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702169445

American author.

From the description of Papers of Clarence Day [manuscript], 1900-1925. (University of Virginia). WorldCat record id: 647833052

Author.

From the description of Clarence Day papers, 1935. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 70983989

Day graduated from Yale in 1896. He wrote essays, criticisms and short stories for the New Republic, The Metropolitan and Harper's. He was an ironist and humorist.

From the description of Letters, 1892-1935 (inclusive), 1914-1929 (bulk). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 155181138

Author and illustrator Clarence Day, best known for his book Life With Father, was born in New York City on November 18, 1874. He was the eldest son of Clarence Day, Sr., a successful stock broker, and Lavinia Stockwell Day, a native of Painesville, Ohio. His grandfather was Benjamin H. Day (1810-1889), a printer and journalist who founded the New York Sun . Clarence Day was educated at Columbia Grammar School in Manhattan, St. Paul's School in New Hampshire, and Yale College, where he received a B.A. degree in 1896. After graduating, Day lived in New York City and worked in his father's brokerage house. In his spare hours he socialized with fellow Yale alumni and volunteered as a canvasser for the Citizens Union, a civic association which opposed Tammany Hall in the 1897 mayoral election.

In the spring of 1898 Day left Wall Street and joined the U. S. Navy, then mobilizing its forces for the Spanish-American War. He served as paymaster aboard the Nahant, a Civil War-era monitor that stayed close to New York harbor throughout the conflict. During his military service, Day suffered the first symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis, a chronic disease marked by inflammation of the joints, stiffness and severe pain. He spent much of the next decade travelling in the western United States, hoping that a dry climate, together with the medical treatments he took at spas visited along the way, would cure him. Day read widely and corresponded with friends and family including his sister-in-law Wilhelmine Johnson Day; his cousin Julia Stockwell; the poet Alice Duer Miller; and Yale sociologist Albert G. Keller. Many of his letters and postcards were illustrated with humorous sketches done in the same casual style as the drawings and cartoons he would later publish in magazines, newspapers and books. Day's physical condition steadily worsened, and he eventually chose to settle permanently in New York City, where he treated his illness primarily with massage and bed rest. For many years he lived in the home of his parents on East 68th Street, but later moved into his own Manhattan apartment.

During the early 1900s Clarence Day was active in the alumni affairs of Yale University. He was for several years the owner of the Yale Alumni Weekly, and served as an adviser to the magazine's editor, Edwin Oviatt. In 1908, he helped his brother George, who was about to begin a long career as Treasurer of Yale, to establish the Yale University Press. Clarence Day also served several terms as Secretary of his graduating class. In this position, he corresponded with 1896 alumni and compiled several editions of a "Class Book" that reported on their activities. The short biographical portraits of his classmates that he wrote for the 1915 edition, known as The '96 Half-way Book, were widely admired. Day's extensive correspondence and literary work on behalf of his alma mater gave him a great deal of satisfaction, and also led him to discover his vocation as an author. During the early 1910s, he began to compose short poems and stories and to draw cartoons that he submitted to popular magazines and newspapers. The Metropolitan Magazine and Harper's Weekly were among the first to print his work. In addition, several of his cartoons and verses in support of voting rights for women appeared in pro-suffrage publications. By the end of the decade, Clarence Day was an established literary professional with numerous publication credits and a regular column in the mass-circulation Metropolitan Magazine . His first book, This Simian World, was published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. in 1920. This wry commentary on the sociological consequences of mankind's evolution from apes received positive reviews, though its sales were modest.

As his literary career took shape, Clarence Day settled into a daily routine that he followed, with little variation, for the rest of his life. It was his habit to sleep during the morning and early afternoon hours, and to receive visitors in the evening or at night. Whether entertaining family, friends or new acquaintances, Day was an informal host who rarely wore more than a crepe dressing gown. He saw visitors in the bedroom which also served as his office, surrounded by his books, letters, manuscripts and drawings. By most accounts, Day was highly charismatic and an inquisitive, sophisticated conversationalist. He worked in the late night hours from his bed. To ease the pain of his arthritis he usually wrote or drew with his hand suspended over the pad by a trolley and sling. Day read dozens of newspapers and periodicals and maintained extensive clipping and subject files. He conducted a wide-ranging correspondence with writers, artists and intellectuals including Henry Canby, Francis Hackett, Troy Kinney, Rose Wilder Lane, Sonya Levien, Philip Littell, Elsie Clews Parsons, Signe Toksvig, E. B. White and Katharine White.

In addition to his literary work, Clarence Day devoted much time to business and family affairs. He owned and managed a large stock portfolio, and over the years ran several businesses in collaboration with his brother Julian, who had settled in England. He also oversaw the financial affairs of his brother Harold, who suffered from traumatic epilepsy as the result of a childhood accident. Clarence, George and Julian Day settled the estates left to them by Clarence Day, Sr. (d.1927) and Lavinia Day (d.1929). In 1922, Day met Katharine Dodge, a young art librarian who worked for him briefly as a secretary. Their relationship soon developed into a romance, and they were married in 1928. A daughter, Wilhelmine (Wendy) Day, was born in 1931.

By that time Clarence Day had achieved notable success as a writer and illustrator. He was widely admired for his subtle observations of modern civilization and human nature, and his ability to render them in clear, comic prose. His essays, book reviews, short stories, verses and cartoons appeared in Harper's Magazine, The New Republic, Ladies Home Journal, The Metropolitan Magazine, The New York American, and The New Yorker . Day's second book, The Crow's Nest (1921), was a collection of essays and stories drawn from his early magazine and newspaper work. Thoughts Without Words, a book of satiric drawings accompanied by short poems, appeared in 1928. But Day achieved his greatest popularity in the 1930s with the publication of a series of comic memoirs of family life centered on the character of Father, based on Clarence Day, Sr. A first volume on the subject, God and My Father, appeared in 1932 and was followed by several stories in The New Yorker . These were collected and published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. as Life With Father (1935), an instant best-seller and Day's most enduring work. In the book, Father appears as an assertive, supremely confident Victorian confounded by modern social relations, mechanical devices and urban rhythms. Day renders Father's straightforward, blustery approach to complex problems with a clear prose noted by contemporaries for its sly irony and touching nostalgia.

Clarence Day died of pneumonia on December 28, 1935. Katherine Day collected and published a posthumous volume of family stories, Life With Mother (1937). She also oversaw the publication of After All (1936), a revised and expanded edition of The Crow's Nest, and was involved with stage, screen and television adaptations of Life With Father .

From the guide to the Clarence Day papers, 1796-1993, 1890-1953, (The New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division.)

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Subjects:

  • Psychotherapy
  • American literature
  • World War, 1914-1918--Campaigns--Turkey--Gallipoli Peninsula--Personal narratives
  • World War, 1914-1918--Campaigns
  • Periodicals
  • Spanish--American War, 1898--Naval operations--Personal narratives
  • Authors and publishers
  • American wit and humor
  • Cartoonists--United States
  • Authors, American
  • Massage
  • Cartoonists
  • Health resorts--West (U.S.)
  • Humorists, American--20th century
  • Periodicals--United States
  • Authors, American--20th century--Archives
  • Rheumatoid arthritis

Occupations:

  • Authors

Places:

  • United States (as recorded)
  • West (U.S.) (as recorded)
  • Turkey--Gallipoli Peninsula (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)
  • United States (as recorded)