The Penguin Biographical Dictionary of Women.
London : Penguin, 1998.

Wilcox, Ella Wheeler (1850 - 1919)
American poet

                            Laugh, and the world laughs with you.
                            Weep, and you weep alone.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox was probably the best-known poet of her day, writing verses that appeared in more than 250 newspapers across the United States.

Ella Wheeler was born in Johnstown Center, Wisconsin, and claimed that she was a descendant of Princess Pocahontas. Encouraged by her mother, she began composing verses even before she could write. By the age of seven Ella was a "professional" poet, having received payment for her poems from the publishers of the magazines in which they appeared. She continued to versify prolifically for the rest of her life, producing at least one or two poems every day, and was soon able to support her family on her income. In 1884 she married the journalist Robert M. Wilcox. The couple travelled widely, using their wealth to indulge their passion for collecting: she collected dolls and necklaces, and he collected musical instruments. Ella also made several visits to Britain, where she had almost as many fans as in the United States; her hard work there during World War I may have contributed to her death from nervous exhaustion.

Wilcox's verses were first published in book form in the collection Drops of Water (1872). A later volume, Poems of Passion (1883), contained some mildly erotic verses that were condemned by the church but did nothing to affect her popularity. Her simple sentimental poetry, with its message of hope and comfort, touched the hearts of readers of all ages and classes, though it failed to impress the literary critics. Wilcox also wrote novels, short stories, essays, and two autobiographical works: Story of a Literary Career (1905) and The World and I (1918).