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James Whitcomb Riley

James Whitcomb Riley (October 7, 1849 – July 22, 1916) was an American writer, poet, and best-selling author. During his lifetime he was known as the "Hoosier Poet" and "Children's Poet" for his dialect works and his children's poetry. His poems tend to be humorous or sentimental. Of the approximately 1,000 poems Riley wrote, the majority are in dialect. His famous works include "Little Orphant Annie" and "The Raggedy Man".

Riley began his career writing verses as a sign maker and submitting poetry to newspapers. Thanks in part to poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's endorsement, he eventually earned successive jobs at Indiana newspaper publishers during the late 1870s. He gradually rose to prominence during the 1880s through his poetry reading tours. He traveled a touring circuit first in the Midwest, and then nationally, appearing either alone or with other famous talents. During this period Riley's long-term addiction to alcohol began to affect his performing abilities, and he suffered financially as a result. However, once he extricated himself from a series of poorly negotiated contracts that sought to limit his earnings, he began to accumulate wealth and eventually became a financial success.

By the 1890s, Riley had become known as a bestselling author. His children's poems were compiled into a book illustrated by Howard Chandler Christy. Titled Rhymes of Childhood, it was his most popular and sold millions of copies. As a poet, Riley achieved an uncommon level of fame during his lifetime. He was honored with annual Riley Day celebrations around the United States and was regularly called on to perform readings at national civic events. He continued to write and hold occasional poetry readings until a stroke paralyzed his right arm in 1910.

Riley's chief legacy was his influence in fostering the creation of a Midwestern cultural identity and his contributions to the Golden Age of Indiana Literature. With other writers of his era, he helped create a caricature of Midwesterners and formed a literary community that produced works rivaling the established eastern literati. There are many memorials dedicated to Riley, including the James Whitcomb Riley Hospital for Children.

Birth and Death Data: Born 1848 (Greenfield), Died 1916 (Indianapolis)

Date Range of DAHR Recordings: 1910 - 1939

Roles Represented in DAHR: author, speaker, lyricist, composer

Recordings (Results 1-25 of 90 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor B-9530 10-in. 10/7/1910 Little orphant Annie Henry Allan Price Recitation author  
Victor B-10049 10-in. 3/14/1911 The fairy tale Henry Allan Price Recitation author  
Victor C-10056 12-in. 3/14/1911 Knee-deep in June Henry Allan Price Recitation author  
Victor B-10168 10-in. 4/11/1911 There, little girl, don't cry Elizabeth Wheeler Female vocal solo, with orchestra author  
Victor B-10704 10-in. 7/11/1911 A life lesson Frank Burbeck Recitation author  
Victor B-10715 10-in. 7/12/1911 An old sweetheart of mine Frank Burbeck Recitation author  
Victor C-11035 12-in. 9/29/1911 Jim Charles D. Von Neumayer Recitation author  
Victor B-11036 10-in. 9/29/1911 Old fashioned roses Charles D. Von Neumayer Recitation author  
Victor C-11972 12-in. 4/29/1912 An old sweetheart of mine James Whitcomb Riley Recitation speaker, author  
Victor B-11973 10-in. 4/29/1912 When the frost is on the punkin James Whitcomb Riley Recitation speaker, author  
Victor B-11974 10-in. 4/29/1912 On the banks o' Deer Crick James Whitcomb Riley Recitation speaker, author  
Victor C-11975 12-in. 4/29/1912 Out to old Aunt Mary's James Whitcomb Riley Recitation author, speaker  
Victor B-11976 10-in. 4/29/1912 Thoughts for the dicouraged farmer (Hoosier dialect) James Whitcomb Riley Recitation speaker, author  
Victor B-11977 10-in. 4/29/1912 Little orphant Annie James Whitcomb Riley Recitation author, speaker  
Victor B-11978 10-in. 4/29/1912 The raggedy man James Whitcomb Riley Recitation author, speaker  
Victor B-11979 10-in. 4/29/1912 The old band James Whitcomb Riley Recitation speaker, author  
Victor C-11980 12-in. 4/29/1912 The happy little cripple James Whitcomb Riley Recitation speaker, author  
Victor C-12087 12-in. 6/4/1912 The old man and Jim James Whitcomb Riley Recitation speaker, author  
Victor C-12088 12-in. 6/4/1912 Dot leedle boy James Whitcomb Riley Recitation speaker, author  
Victor B-12089 10-in. 6/4/1912 Her beautiful hands James Whitcomb Riley Recitation speaker, author  
Victor C-12090 12-in. 6/5/1912 The name of Old Glory 1898 James Whitcomb Riley Recitation speaker, author  
Victor C-12091 12-in. 6/5/1912 The soldier story James Whitcomb Riley Recitation speaker, author  
Victor C-12092 12-in. 6/5/1912 The boy's bear story James Whitcomb Riley Recitation speaker, author  
Victor C-12093 12-in. 6/7/1912 The object lesson of a peanut James Whitcomb Riley Recitation speaker, author  
Victor C-12094 12-in. 6/7/1912 Tradin' Jim James Whitcomb Riley Recitation speaker, author  
(Results 1-25 of 90 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Riley, James Whitcomb," accessed March 6, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/102458.

Riley, James Whitcomb. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved March 6, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/102458.

"Riley, James Whitcomb." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 6 March 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

URI: https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/102458

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