Hamlin Garland


Hamlin Garland

A Life

Keith Newlin

536 pages
32 photographs, index


June 2008


$40.00 Add to Cart
eBook (PDF)
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June 2008


$40.00 Add to Cart

About the Book

In recognition of his achievements in literature, Hamlin Garland (1860–1940) received four honorary doctorates and a Pulitzer Prize. Keith Newlin traces the rise of this prairie farm boy with a half-formed ambition to write who then skyrocketed into international prominence before he was forty. His life is a story of ironic contradictions: the radical whose early achievement thrust him to the forefront of literary innovation but whose evolutionary aesthetic principles could not themselves adapt to changing conditions; the self-styled “veritist” whose credo demanded that he verify every fact but whose credulity led him to spend a lifetime seeking to confirm the existence of spirits. His need for recognition caused him to cultivate rewarding friendships with the leaders of literary culture, yet even when he attained that recognition, it was never enough, and his self-doubt caused him fits of black despair.
The first and only other biography of Hamlin Garland was published more than forty years ago; since then, letters, manuscripts, and family memoirs have surfaced to provide, along with changing literary scholarship, a more evaluative and critical interpretation of Garland’s life and times. Hamlin Garland: A Life is an exploration of Garland’s contributions to American literary culture and places his work within the artistic context of its time.

Author Bio

Keith Newlin is a professor of English at the University of North Carolina Wilmington and coeditor of the journal Studies in American Naturalism.  He is the coeditor of Selected Letters of Hamlin Garland (Nebraska 1998) and the editor of the forthcoming book by Isabel Garland Lord, A Summer to Be, A Memoir by the Daughter of Hamlin Garland.


"As a biography of Garland it is unsurpassed, and it is also an invaluable work of scholarship in enriching our knowledge of American literary history from William Dean Howells to Garland and Stephen Crane, and from Garland to Eugene O'Neill and Sinclair Lewis."—Roger W. Smith, Studies in American Naturalism

"In highly readable, refreshingly clear prose, Newlin takes the reader through each phase of Garland's life and career. . . . This biography of Garland will undoubtedly stand as the most definitive one for years to come."—C. Johanningsmeier, CHOICE

"Garland's story is expertly and thoroughly examined. . . . Hamlin Garland: A Life deserves a place in the library of every person interested in the depictions of rural life or the early history of Dakota Territory."—Jon Lauck, South Dakota History Quarterly

"Hamlin Garland: A Life is an impressive achievement and an invaluable resource to literary scholars and researchers."—Jeffy Swenson, Resources for American Literary Study

"Thanks to Keith Newlin's exhaustive and eloquently written biography, we now have access to the entirety of Hamlin Garland's quirky, historically revealing life. . . . [Hamlin Garland: A Life] is a biography that will serve as a resource to Garland scholars and as a detailed portrait of artistic networks spanning the end of the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth century."—Philip Joseph, Western American Literature

"To relate these crucial episodes and make sense of a man whose writings and life defy easy classification, Newlin has (like his subject) travelled indefatigably across the land. And while Garland struck out in his search for gold in the Klondike and for mystical buried crosses in southern California, Newlin has, to the vast benefit of American studies, struck pay dirt."—Quentin Martin, American Literary Realism

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations


Prologue: March 14, 1940

1. Return of the Private, 1860-68

2. Boy Life on the Prairie, 1868-81

3. Dakota Homesteader, 1881-84

4. Boston Mentors, 1884-85

5. The Earnest Apprentice, 1886-87

6. Single-Tax Realist, 1888

7. Life under the Wheel, 1888-89

8. Main-Travelled Roads, 1889-91

9. Table Rapper, 1890-92

10. The Campaign for Realism, 1893

11. The Iconoclast, 1893-94

12. Western Horizons, 1895

13. "Ho, for the Klondike!" 1896-98

14. The End of the Trail, 1899-1902

15. Adrift, 1903-7

16. "A Born Promoter," 1907-14

17. A Son of the Middle Border, 1914-17

18. Out of Step with the Moderns, 1918-30

19. The Historian, 1919-29

20. Fortunate Exile, 1929-40



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