Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry in English.
Edited by Ian Hamilton.
Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1994.
WILCOX, Ella Wheeler (1850-1919), was born
in Wisconsin, her father a dance-teacher, her precocity encouraged--at
the age of 8 she was earning a substantial writing income. Poetry remained
her favourite mode, starting with her first collection, Drops of Water
(1872), which preached temperance, although she also wrote a number of
prose volumes, including The Story of a Literary Career (1905) and The
Worlds and I (1918). She snared a national audience when her innocuous
Poems of Passion (1876) was rejected by the first publisher approached
on the grounds of 'immorality'. In 1884 she married Robert Wilcox, and
they moved to Connecticut. The forty-odd volumes of verse perpetrated by
Wilcox, which evolved from prosy didactism and pseudo-eroticism to Theosophist
mysticism, have deservedly disappeared, her sole claim to poetic fame two
lines paraphrased from Shakespeare in 'Solitude': 'Laugh, and the world
laughs with you; | weep, and you weep alone.'