Herzberg, Max J. (ed.)
The Reader's encyclopedia of American literature.
New York: Crowell, 1962.
p. 1229 and 314

Wilcox, Ella Wheeler (b. Johnstown Center, Wis., Nov. 5, 1850--d. Oct. 30, 1919), poet, novelist. Mrs. Wilcox, whose work is rife with platitudes and sentimentality, was in her day an extremely "marketable" poetess. Lloyd Morris gave the most effective description of her in Postscript to Yesterday (1947): "A stately figure, Mrs. Wilcox was softly enveloped by plumes, chiffons, and Oriental metaphysics. Her life was blameless, but her imagination simmered. Over the land millions of women throbbed to her verses." She wrote a sentimental novel when she was ten, her first essay was published when she was fourteen, and her first poem not long after. She tried college for a while, but didn't like it and turned to newspaper work. When her Poems of Passion (1876) appeared, the work became famous overnight, because of its "daring" quality, and her reputation was made. Mrs. Wilcox published more than forty volumes from Drops of Water (1872) to The Worlds and I (1918). Most of these were verse, some were fiction, two were autobiographical. The most famous of her poems is Solitude, which begins: "Laugh and the world laughs with you,/ Weep and you weep alone." See THE EROTIC SCHOOL.

Erotic School, The. A name given to a group of writers c. 1888 by newspapers critics, who decried the extremes to which these writers, among them, Amelie Rives (see PRINCESS TROUBETZKOY), EDGAR SALTUS, GERTRUDE ATHERTON, and ELLA WHEELER WILCOX, went in rebelling against the stricter rules of Mrs. Grundy. These writers anticipated to a certain extent the revolt that came after World War I. They acted chiefly under the influence of the art-for-art's-sake movement in England.