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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 26-50 of 90 records)

Company Matrix No. Size First Recording Date Title Primary Performer Description Role Audio
Victor B-12095 10-in. 6/7/1912 A life's lesson James Whitcomb Riley Recitation author, speaker  
Victor B-12096 10-in. 6/7/1912 Kissing the rod James Whitcomb Riley Recitation author, speaker  
Victor B-12097 10-in. 6/7/1912 The harper James Whitcomb Riley Recitation author, speaker  
Victor C-13580 12-in. 7/16/1913 The old man and Jim Harry E. Humphrey Recitation author  
Victor B-13993 10-in. 10/23/1913 Granny Cora Mel Patten Recitation, with trumpet and drum ("Grandma's prayer") author  
Victor C-14469 12-in. 2/17/1914 Old Glory Cora Mel Patten Recitation author  
Victor C-14490 12-in. 2/20/1914 The bear story, that Alex yist maked up his own se'f Harry E. Humphrey Recitation author  
Victor C-14491 12-in. 2/20/1914 The bear story, that Alex yist maked up his own se'f Harry E. Humphrey Recitation author  
Victor CVE-14946 12-in. 5/2/1928 The name of Old Glory S. H. Clark Recitation author  
Victor C-14946 12-in. 6/10/1914 The name of Old Glory S. H. Clark Recitation author  
Victor B-14986 10-in. 6/23/1914 Our hired girl Cora Mel Patten Recitation author  
Victor B-14987 10-in. 6/23/1914 Goin' to the fair Cora Mel Patten Recitation author  
Victor C-15453 12-in. 12/2/1914 The name of Old Glory Harry E. Humphrey Recitation author  
Victor B-16872 10-in. 12/9/1915 The runaway boy Harry E. Humphrey Recitation author  
Victor C-16872 12-in. 12/9/1915 The runaway boy Harry E. Humphrey Recitation author  
Victor B-16873 10-in. 12/9/1915 Little Mandy's Christmas tree Harry E. Humphrey Recitation author  
Victor B-16876 10-in. 12/9/1915 The man in the moon Harry E. Humphrey Recitation author  
Victor B-16877 10-in. 12/9/1915 An impetuous resolve Harry E. Humphrey Recitation author  
Victor B-16878 10-in. 12/9/1915 Mister hop toad Harry E. Humphrey Recitation author  
Victor B-18332 10-in. 9/7/1916 Jest 'fore Christmas Harry E. Humphrey Recitation author  
Victor B-18333 10-in. 9/7/1916 The chimney drummer boy Harry E. Humphrey Recitation author  
Victor C-19127 12-in. 1/25/1917 The name of Old Glory William Sterling Battis Recitation author  
Victor BVE-19179 10-in. 11/12/1926 Raggedy man Sally Hamlin Recitation author  
Victor B-19179 10-in. 2/14/1917 The raggedy man Sally Hamlin Recitation author  
Victor B-19180 10-in. 2/14/1917 Our hired girl Sally Hamlin Recitation author  
(Results 26-50 of 90 records)

Citation

Discography of American Historical Recordings, s.v. "Riley, James Whitcomb," accessed April 21, 2021, https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/102458.

Riley, James Whitcomb. (2021). In Discography of American Historical Recordings. Retrieved April 21, 2021, from https://adp.library.ucsb.edu/names/102458.

"Riley, James Whitcomb." Discography of American Historical Recordings. UC Santa Barbara Library, 2021. Web. 21 April 2021.

DAHR Persistent Identifier

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

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