Fun Facts Friday: James Whitcomb Riley

October 7, 2016

James Whitcomb Riley (7 October, 1849 – 22 July, 1916) was an American bestselling author and writer.

A postage bearing Riley's image
By US Post Office – US Post Office, Public Domain, Link

Books by James Whitcomb Riley*

1) Mr. Riley was born in Indiana, the third of six children

2) Mr. Riley’s father, a lawyer and legislator, was friends with then governor of Indiana James Whitcomb.

3) As a boy at school Mr. Riley was often difficult and in trouble.

4) In 1929, at the age of 20, Mr. Riley finally graduated from eighth grade.

5) Some of his critics, point to Mr. Riley’s lack of education as a reason for his successful writing career since he wrote in a language people could understand.

6) When his poems weren’t published, Mr. Riley wrote a poem in the style of Edgar Allan Poe and submitted it saying it was a long lost poem. The newspapers published the poem, however the majority of them said the poem was a fake since the quality was poor. Mr. Riley’s theory that his poems weren’t published because he was unknown was debunked. Consequently, Mr. Riley was fired from his job as a reporter.

7) Needing income, Mr. Riley joined a circuit of performing poets.

8) As his performances and book of poems became more popular, Mr. Riley’s income started to increase and allowed him to concentrate on writing.

9) At a dinner at the White House with President Grover Cleveland and other dignitaries, Mr. Riley read a poem and spoke about the need for international copyright protections.

10) Mr. Riley campaigned for his friend Benjamin Harrison, and future president, who wanted to make him the national poet laureate, but Congress failed to act.

Books by James Whitcomb Riley*

Zohar — Man of la Book
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account

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