Irvine, Alexander, 1863-1941

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Alexander Fitzgerald Irvine was an author and a minister. He was born on Jan. 19, 1863 in Antrim, Ireland, son of James and Anna (Gilmore) Irvine. He was a student at Oxford University, 1887-1888 and Yale University, 1900-1904. He married Maude Hazen on June 2, 1897. Irvine served in the British Marines and was later ordained a minister. He moved to the United States in 1888. From 1916-1918, Irvine was the chief morale raiser of the British Army in France. He authored such books as The Master and the Chisel (1904), My Lady of the Chimney Corner (1913), God and Tommy Atkins (1916), A Fighting Parson (1930 Autobiography), and Anna's Wishing Chair (1938). Irvine died on Mar. 15, 1941 in Hollywood, Calif.

From the description of Autograph Collection of Alexander Irvine. (Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens). WorldCat record id: 122639346

Author, lecturer, and Congregationalist minister Alexander Irvine was born in Antrim, Ireland in 1863, the son of Anna (née Gilmore) and Jamie Irvine, she a Roman Catholic and he an illiterate Protestant shoemaker. He grew up working in his father's cobbling business which Jamie Irvine ran out of his small home. The ninth out of twelve children, Irvine's mother gave him little formal education as he had to supplement his father's income by selling newspapers instead of attending school. Lured by their promises of an education which had for so long eluded him, Irvine entered the British Navy and served in the Mediterranean Sea. Irvine's acumen for learning and his time serving in the navy had garnered him education enough to matriculate at Oxford during a furlough. Also while on leave, Irvine wed Ellen Mary Skeets in 1886. After two years at Oxford, Irvine determined to pursue missionary work on the other side of the Atlantic shortly, however, and he deserted his post for the United States with his wife and two new sons, William and Gordon, in tow. Shortly after he had landed in New York and proselytized among the poor and homeless in Manhattan's Bowery district, Irvine's first wife left him and returned to the United Kingdom where she gave birth to their third child in 1891.

After four years preaching on the Lower East Side, Irvine suffered a nervous breakdown and moved his family to Omaha, Nebraska. There he married Clara Maude Hazen, the daughter of a prominent Iowa politician. His wife gave birth to an additional four children: Robert, Anna, Maurice (known as "Swanee"), and Jack. Irvine felt constrained in Omaha, however, and he took a position as the religious director for the New Haven YMCA in 1898 hoping to delve back into missionary work with the poor. He enrolled at the Yale Divinity School while preaching at the Second Congregation Church of nearby Fair Haven and was ordained at Yale University in tandem with his work with local labor movements and the Socialist Party. His published writings about his life made him famous. By 1906, he had become friends with other well-known Socialists (such as the writer Jack London) and departed New Haven to see for himself the conditions of working people across America. The following year Irvine relocated back to New York City where he began preaching his brand of socialist Christianity at the Church of the Ascension in Manhattan. By 1910, Irvine's political entanglements had made him controversial, and he left the Church of the Ascension to pursue a speaking and writing career from a farm in Peekskill. The success of his autobiography From the bottom up: the life story of Alexander Irvine the same year made such a move tenable. Irvine moved to Los Angeles in 1911 to manage the mayoral campaign of Socialist candidate Job Harriman. In California, Irvine produced his most famous book, My lady of the chimney corner (1913), a story based on his Irish peasant roots. Irvine adapted his literary themes to the vaudeville stage the same year with "The Rector of St. Jude's." He spent the balance of his life writing freelance for publications on either side of the Atlantic. Irvine was found dead in his bed at his home in Hollywood, California on March 15, 1941.

From the description of Papers of Alexander Irvine, 1863-1986 (bulk 1906-1941). (Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens). WorldCat record id: 318080619

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Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Irvine, Alexander, 1863-1941. Papers of Alexander Irvine, 1863-1986 (bulk 1906-1941). Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
creatorOf Irvine, Alexander, 1863-1941. Autograph Collection of Alexander Irvine. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
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United States
New York (N.Y.)
New York
Mexico
California
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World War, 1939-1945
World War, 1914-1918
Vigilantes
Socialism--History--20th century--Sources
Vaudeville--History--20th century--Sources
Congregationalists
Tuberculosis
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Birth 1863

Death 1941

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