Eugene Field papers  1873-1923 (bulk 1873-1896)
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The Field papers contain eleven letters from the popular American writer, Eugene Field; one undated letter from J.M. Stoddart to Field; two manuscript poems; a newspaper edition of "The House," with marginal editorial notes; and a set of proof sheets from Field's "autobiography," Love Affairs of a Bibliomaniac. Field's letters are addressed variously to his wife or children, and to Harvard linguist, Francis J. Childs.

Although the letters in the Field papers are miscellaneous, and touch on a wide variety of subjects, several stand out for their individual interest. One letter, apparently written to a son (1886 September 10), includes a brief, pleasant description of a baseball game between Chicago and Detroit, and is accompanied by a charming example of Field's ability as an illustrator. The most important letters in the collection are those few that reveal some of Field's attitudes toward marriage and family. Two letters addressed to his 16-year-old fiancee (1873 January 10 and 1873 October 10), for instance, provide advice on how to prepare for their impending wedding night, adding confidently, "Oh Julia, you know not what bliss is in store for you!" Another letter written to his wife shortly after the death of a young son (1890 October 4) suggests the fragile distance that Field was able to place between himself and his deceased child. "I fear that I am regarded quite hard hearted," he wrote "I have been so peaceful since the end came. While our boy still lived, I battled constantly in spirit and I think that another week would have killed me. Now that all is over, I am content, wholly reconciled. I believe our boy is happy now. It is selfish to wish him back."

The collection contains final manuscript drafts of Field's poems, "De Amicitus," "A French Crisis" (published as "The Fair Limousin") and "Holly and Ivy" (which was decoratively illustrated by the author), and the newspaper edition of "The House," with marginal editorial notes, some of which are in Field's hand. A single cabinet card photograph of Field in this collection was signed by him and dated May, 1895.

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