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manuscript which he received together with this modest letter:
"Sir: I herewith enclose for your to-be-hoped-for acceptance a remarkable poem on the late Oscar Wilde, my distinguished compatriot. If you know anything at all of his closing years, you will undoubtedly share my views. You have so far seen fit to reject my mss. although I am a highly versatile poet. I am only twenty-five years old and yet I have written over thirty miscellaneous odes. Your Thomas Walsh and other favored contributors are mere tyros compared to me. I beg of you to encourage me by accepting this poem, which is based on the more tragical Ballad of Reading Gaol.' I deny your literary taste and ability if you refuse to accept it. Yours fraternally, etc."
In a test in which seventy-four first year men at the University of Virginia were asked to spell forty-eight common words, rhythm was misspelled fifty-five times out of seventy-four; "analyze," Occurrence" and "privilege," thirty-one times each; "judgment" twenty-nine times; its," "lose" and prerogative," each discipline," twenty times; "development," and opportunity," each nineteen times; "separate" twelve times; and "mirth ten times. It is safe to say that none of those poor spellers will ever be good writers. Good spelling means accurate observation and a good memory, and without these two qualities good writing is impossible.
According to a report on English composition teaching in schools and colleges, made by a committee of the Modern Language Association, long-continued criticism and correcting of manuscript is one of the severest tests of physical endurance to be found in any teaching, and the limit of full and continued efficiency in it is about two hours a day or ten hours a week, but at this rate the physical and nervous system begin to give way, on the average, in three months, and full efficiency is at an end, while much more than this results sooner or later in the physical collapse of the teacher. This will interest newspaper desk editors, who do the same kind of work under a continual nervous strain in editing
copy for eight hours a day, six days in the week, and frequently grow fat on it.
At the December meeting of the Boston Authors Club, Professor Katherine Lee Bates of Wellesley, speaking optimistically of the idealism latent in America, suggested that the Authors Club might do something toward establishing fellowships for young poets who need leisure for the best work. Here's a hint for Mr. Carnegie.
W. H. H.
WRITERS OF THE DAY.
John Nicholas Beffel, who wrote the short story, "The Woman at the Door," in the December Lippincott's, was born in Seneca, Illinois, but now lives in Detroit. His best known work, probably, is his Plumville Sketches, one of which, under the title " Grid Patton's Dog," appeared in the December National Magazine. Mr. Beffel spent five years doing newspaper work in Chicago, St. Louis, and New York, but for a year he has been devoting his time mainly to writing fiction and essays the essays dealing con. structively with problems such as are suggested by the titles, "The Child and the School," "The Boy from the Country," "The Boy Who Runs Away," "The Evolution of a Crime," and "The Gun-hand of the Mob." Stories, sketches, and verse of his have appeared in Lippincott's, Success, Life, Ainslee's, Uncle Remus's Magazine, Judge, the National Magazine, the Woman's Home Companion, the Chapple News-Letter Magazine, McLean's Magazine (Canadian), the St. Louis Mirror, the Associated Sunday Magazines, and in various Sunday papers.
Irene Elliott Benson, author of the poem, "A Sleepy Song," printed in the Delineator for December, was born in Syracuse, N. Y., and is the niece of the late George W. Elliott, whose song, "Bonnie Eloise," was popular in the early seventies. Mrs. Benson has been writing for about six years. She is a contributor to Life, Harper's Weekly, and the New York Sunday Times, Herald, and Tribune, and has written stories for
many magazines. She also writes children's books for McLaughlin, and at present she is under contract with M. N. Donohue, the Chicago publisher, for a series of "Boy Scout" and "Camp Fire Girls" stories.
Helen Bullis, whose poem, "Lords of the City," was printed in the Forum for October, is a special inspector in the United States Immigration Service. She was born in Ionia, Michigan. After teaching for several years, she became general secretary of the Travellers' Aid Society in New York, and in 1907 was appointed inspector in the Immigration Service. In addition, Miss Bullis is a regular reviewer for the New York Times, and she also writes occasionally for the New York Evening Post.
Mabel Stevens Freer, who had a poem, "The Woman of It," in the December number of Ainslee's Magazine, and also a poem, "My Discoveries," in Ainslee's for November, lives in Detroit. She says she began trying to write verse when she was a child, but did not succeed in selling anything until about a year and a half ago, at which time she was twenty-four. Since then Ainslee's Magazine has accepted several poems. Munsey's Magazine and the Ladies' Home Journal have taken one or two each, and a local Detroit magazine called " The Little Stick," has printed one. Miss Freer, herself, thinks that her poem, "The Mother," printed in Ainslee's about a year ago, is the best that she has done.
John Miller Gregory, who had a story, "The Little Sheriff of Doerun," in the Red Book for November, was born in Atlanta, Georgia, in 1881. At thirteen he was in a Jesuit novitiate, with a firm determination to become a missionary. At sixteen he was at home again, as a result of a decision of his parents. At seventeen he ran away from home and went to another Jesuit novitiate, where he remained until over-study brought on nervous prostration, and the good fathers sent him away. He then became a press agent for a carnival show, and traveled all
over the United States until the show closed, when he and a partner put out a repertoire show, playing one-week stands in the "tank" towns of the West, following this by a season with melodrama. The next summer he went into Kansas City with fifty dollars in his pocket, put out a five-car carnival show, and in less than two months had a bank account of four thousand dollars. Two months after that he was stranded in Hope, Arkansas, with fifteen dollars in his pocket, having lost even his private car, which he had bought so as to live comfortably on the road. A season or two of legitimate theatrical attractions followed, and then Mr. Gregory's career in the show business ended. As a boy he had worked on the Atlanta Constitution, and he went back to newspaper work. He wrote state politics for five big Chicago papers, and as he happened to land about the time of the big legislative scandal, he got all the excitement he was looking for, being barred from the Senate floor because he dared to print stories which reflected on the honor of a legislator. Mr. Gregory sold the first short story he wrote to the New York Sunday Telegraph when he was eighteen years old. The editor ordered more of the same kind, and he furnished one for each Sunday during an entire summer, at the same time doing considerable writing for the Chicago Tribune. All of this was circus matter. Mr. Gregory is now the editor of the Town and Farm Monthly Magazine, published in Cincinnati, and says that he has finally found time to write stories, after twelve years' work. “I have reached the point where adventure does not any longer appeal to me," he says, that is, not so much as it used to. A circus band has no more effect on me than a two-piece symphony orchestra in a picture show. The wanderlust is a negative. I find more pleasure in putting out my feet before the gas logs than in being broke in Bonham, Texas. But, believe me, when you look back on it, it's some fun to be broke in a strange town."
John Haslette, whose short story, "Si Duncan Sells the Homestead," was printed
in the Red Book for December, and who also had short stories in the Red Book for September and October, is an Irishman, and lives in Bournemouth. Mr. Haslette
was originally an architect, but says he finds authorship a more lucrative occupation. He had a complete novelette in the Popular Magazine for December, 1911; a short story of his will come out soon in the Sunset Monthly; and a new novel, "The Mesh," has just been issued by McBride, Nast, & Company, New York. D. Appleton & Company published an earlier novel, Desmond Rourke," and Mr. Haslette has had short stories and novels in such British magazines as the London, the Sphere, the Grand, the World, and the Pall Mall. He writes direct on the typewriter, and does not rewrite a single sentence. When he is in the mood for writing, he works very rapidly, - a short story in four hours and a novel in three weeks being about his record He prefers to do his writing before noon, and he writes best when he begins a novel with no preconceived plot "making it up as he goes along," as the children say.
Josephine Underwood Munford, whose story, Georgine's Trial Lesson," in the December Delineator, is the first of a series of stories about Georgine" which the Delineator is to publish, is a pianist by profession, and has a studio in Washington. Miss Munford was born in Clarksville, Tennessee, but left there when she was eleven years old. She received her musical education in Vienna, Austria, under the instruction of Theodor Leschetizky. Two songs that she has had published, "For My Love," the words by Arthur Sherburne Hardy, and "Twin Roses," words and music by herself, have been very well received. Miss Munford had a few short stories published under a pen-name before she began with "Georgine."
Antoinette De Coursey Patterson, who had a quatrain in Ainslee's for December, and a poem, "To a Bird," in the December
Lippincott's, is a Philadelphian who has recently taken up the serious study of verse, the sonnet and quatrain being her favorite forms. She has had some of her work accepted by various American magazines and by the London Academy. In the late winter Mrs. Patterson intends to have a small volume of sonnets and quatrains published.
Ida Katherine Williams Rea, whose story, "The Blue Bowl," appeared in the Editor's Drawer of Harper's Magazine for November, is the wife of Francis Glenn Rea, a student in the American School of Osteopathy at Kirksville, Missouri. Mrs. Rea was born and grew up at Reynoldsville, Penn., and was educated at the Bucknell Institute of Music and at Bucknell University. As a child she preferred writing childish stories to playing with her dolls, but this taste was not encouraged, and it was not until two years ago that she wrote her first story, "To Thine Own Self Be True," which was accepted by the Methodist Publishing House, and appeared in the Classmate. "The Blue Bowl" is her first venture in the larger field of fiction, but for a year and a half her stories have been accepted by many of the leading Sunday school publications, including those of the American Baptist Publication Society and the Standard Publishing Company, the Southern Baptist, and the Christian Endeavor World. Two of her latest stories will be published shortly in the Los Angeles Times.
Robert Welles Ritchie, whose novelette, "The Cat and the King," appeared in the December month-end Popular Magazine, has been in active newspaper work for the past ten years, and is at present a member of the New York World's staff. During the past two years he has had tales of adventure and life in odd corners of the globe in the Popular Magazine, Harper's Magazine, and other periodicals, and these stories have taken their background, and in some instances a groundwork of incident, from the journeyings and experiences of Mr. Ritchie
himself. Mr. Ritchie is a native of Mississippi, but grew up in California, and became a cub reporter on the San Francisco Call the day after he was graduated from the University of California. A life crowded with incident began for him right then. Going to Japan on a shoestring" at the outbreak of the Russo-Japanese war, he worked as a correspondent for the London Telegraph in Japan and Korea. At the close of hostilities he edited an American paper in Yokohama, and returned to San Francisco just in time to "cover" the great fire of 1906. The work he did for the New York Sun at that time led to an invitation to come east and join the staff of that paper. As a Sun man he traveled to Labrador to meet Peary on his return from his polar trip, reported the Jeffries-Johnson fight at Reno, and was sent to Texas and Mexico at the time of the Madero revolution. It was while on this assignment that he witnessed the riotous expulsion of President Diaz from his capital and followed him to Vera Cruz and thence to Havana on the first leg of his journey into exile. This experience gave Mr. Ritchie the material for "The Passing of a Dictator," which was printed in the April Harper's. "The Cat and the King" is the latest of several stories which Mr. Ritchie has written from his adventures in the Far East and his familiarity with Japanese policies in Korea and Manchuria, and he says he has had great fun mingling facts and fiction in proportions calculated to keep even the Japanese statesmen guessing at how much he really knows.
Harriet Whitney Symonds, whose poem, "To-morrow's Guerdon," appeared in the December Ainslee's, wrote under her own name of Harriet Whitney Durbin up to March 2, 1912. At that time, having been a widow for several years, she became the wife of Harry C. Symonds of St. Louis, which city is her birthplace and her present home. Mrs. Symonds has written verse since childhood, and she still prefers to write verse, although she finds that the writ
ing of short stories pays her better. She has had verses and stories published in Ainslee's, Munsey's, Everybody's, the Youth's Companion, the Designer, the Ladies' World (under its old management), the People's Home Journal, the Woman's Home Companion, the Housewife, the New Age, and a number of other publications. Mrs. Symonds hopes some day to make a volume of her scattered poems.
PERSONAL GOSSIP ABOUT AUTHORS.
Furness. The patient toil that the late Horace Howard Furness put into his work is illustrated by an extract from a letter that he wrote in 1880 to Professor Francis James Child, acknowledging a letter of encouragement that he had received from Professor Child. Dr. Furness wrote:
"No one has ever yet said to me such an appreciative word anent the labor and the time that lie hidden .sometimes in a fraction of line. Not infrequently I have spent a whole evening in hunting down a single quotation. I remember that I once went through every page of Ben Jonson, and there are nine volumes in Gifford's edition, in search of a single line and I got it. "I spent nearly a whole night, till cockcrow, in search of 'queasie' in the Paston Letters, and four or five words absorbed the whole of it. So too in Latimer's Sermons after flibbergibe.' And sometimes, as you truly say, after all the time and trouble is spent the note is struck out.
Harraden. Beatrice Harraden writes her books over and over, trying to live them before she writes them. When “Ships That Pass in the Night" was published in 1893 Miss Harraden was entirely unknown, and she parted with the copyright to a London publisher for twenty guineas. The story instantly sprang into popularity, and hundreds of editions have been issued, both in England and in America - where it was not copyrighted. It was translated into French, German, Dutch, Polish, Swedish, Norwegian, Hungarian, Russian, Japanese, Italian, and Spanish, and done into raised Braille letters for the use of the blind. In all, nearly a million copies must have been
sold, but up to recently Miss Harraden has received, from translation rights and all, less than five hundred dollars. Some time ago, however, she was voluntarily given a percentage on several new editions.
Even as a child Miss Harraden was always trying her hand at short stories, but she had the long period of nothing but rejections through which most successful writers have had to pass. William Blackwood, the editor and publisher, took a personal interest in her work, encouraged her, and at last published in Blackwood's a little sketch entitled "The Umbrella Mender."
A volume of short stories for children was followed by a long illness, brought on by overwork, after which Miss Harraden wrote
Ships That Pass in the Night." Since the appearance of this book Miss Harraden has published a novel every three or four years. She does not believe in taking advantage of her reputation to turn out hasty work, but lives out her novel in hand by dwelling in the environment she means to give to her characters, and many a "working day" she does not write a word, but sits at her desk thinking of scenes and characters.
She thinks out her characters for several years, beginning with one whom she comes to know so thoroughly that she could tell what sort of shoes he wears, and what he thinks about suffrage. From the circle of possible acquaintances of that one she builds up her list of characters, trying to live in the places where they live and studying the subjects which have any bearing on their characteristics or occupations or interests. For example, when she portrayed "Tamar," the splendid sulky Jewess expert in gems in "Out of the Wreck I Rise," she made a three-years' exhaustive study of gems and antiques and methods of auctioning antiques.
When once she has begun the actual writing of a book she works at it regularly as far as she can, and even if she does not put down a word on paper she keeps herself at her desk for two or three hours in order not to lose the habit of steady work.
"And sometimes," she said once, I find it so much easier to work than just sit there and keep on wishing that I were out for a
tramp that I find myself quite cheerfully writing on a morning when I had sworn that the skies were too foggy for any gentleminded person to expect a poor author to evolve ideas."- New York Sun.
King.-Basil King, the author of The Inner Shrine," is fifty-three years old, but he never attempted to write fiction until he was forty-two. Then failing eyesight, and the probability of approaching blindness, caused him to turn from his profession for another means of livelihood. He had always thought he could write a story. He tried it. His first attempt was published in the Atlantic Monthly, in the form of a short story. It was not long before he found he could write a novel better, and took up the longer form of fiction.
"I had written books under my own name," said Mr. King; "but they were modest efforts, and my success was only moderate. In 1908 Harper's wanted my book, The Inner Shrine,' to publish as a serial, but up to that time they had never taken a serial except from the very best authors. After they had taken the works of Thomas Hardy, Gilbert Parker, and Mrs. Deland, it can readily be seen that hesitation on their part to feature a serial for the coming year by a man who was practically unknown was natural. It was suggested that my novel be run serially, but anonymously.
"At that time I was very ill, I was losing my sight rapidly, and when the publishers suggested the story should be printed anonymously, I jumped at the idea, for the simple reason that this would allow me to pass along unmolested. I was going abroad to remain two years. I was so ill I took no particular interest in the serial when it was published, and, as a matter of fact, I did not know at the time that it had aroused any curiosity. I had very little communication with the United States during the first year of my stay abroad.
"The Wild Olive' and 'The Street Called Straight' were published anonymously, too, but I am now so much better in health, and I have got SO accustomed to my loss of sight-my vision is now about onethird normal and I have become used to