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Inventory of the Hamlin Garland Papers, 1757-1973, (bulk 1910-1941)
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Subject matter
  • Bibliography

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Hamlin Garland Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1757-1973, (bulk 1910-1941)
    Creator: Garland, Hamlin
    Extent: 1225 pieces
    Repository: The Huntington Library
    San Marino, California 91108
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    The majority of collection was purchased from Mary Isabel (Garland) Johnson Lord in 1968. 39 additional letters purchased from Constance (Garland) Harper Doyle in March 1968 have been incorporated into the collection.


    Collection is open to qualified researchers by prior application through the Reader Services Department. For more information please go to following URL .

    Publication Rights

    In order to quote from, publish, or reproduce any of the manuscripts or visual materials, researchers must obtain formal permission from the office of the Library Director. In most instances, permission is given by the Huntington as owner of the physical property rights only, and researchers must also obtain permission from the holder of the literary rights. In some instances, the Huntington owns the literary rights, as well as the physical property rights. Researchers may contact the appropriate curator for further information.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item], Hamlin Garland Papers, The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.


    Born in 1860 and raised on farms in Wisconsin and the mid-west, Hamlin Garland was provided early on with the practical experience of farm and mid-western life that was to become the foundation for his realistic style of writing. Both his fictional and non-fictional accounts of farm life were hailed by the literary world as thankful deviations from the romantic norms. In many ways, Garland was ahead of his time. Not only did his view of farm life as oppressive contrast with his contemporaries, but also his opinions regarding the status of women seem more likely to stem from the 1970's than the 1870's. Many critics of Garland lament what they see as his subsequent abandonment of the realistic fire of his youth after his marriage to Zulime Mauna (Taft) Garland in 1899. Others attribute the mellowing of his reformist fires to the natural mellowing of age. Still others state that he never gave up his radical views in favor of more mainstream (and hence more publishable and profitable) ideas; he merely presented his realistic views in a more subtle manner. However, none can contest the fact that Garland's later work certainly seemed to look back on mid-western farm life rather selectively and with at least rose-tined, if not rose-colored, glasses.
    Garland's literary career did not begin until 1884 when he left the West for Boston. He was just able to support himself teaching and lecturing on literature, and writing for journals such as the Transcript, American Magazine, Harper's Weekly, and Century. Only a portion of his writing dealt with reviewing or discussing literature; mainly Garland expressed his own views of life in the West through fiction, non-fiction, and verse. His early writings were praised for their accurate depiction of farm life in the mid-west and the daily degradation and deprivation of farm work. While mentally and literarily pursuing his notions of the dreadful nature of farm life, he began to focus on his own family's experience in the mid-west. His famous Son of the Middle Border was based on the life of his father, Richard Garland, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Daughter of the Middle Border traced the homestead life of his mother, Isabelle Charlotte (McClintock) Garland. The popularity of these books prompted him to continue putting his family saga down on paper. The result was a series of books that cover his father's boyhood, his parents' lives, and his own life until roughly 1928.
    In the midst of Garland's literary love/hate affair with the West, he married Zulime Mauna Taft, sister to sculptor Lorado Taft. Though he housed his family in the cities of Chicago and New York, he took them to West Salem or to upstate New York to spend summers. Garland desired his two children, Mary Isabel (Garland) Johnson Lord and Constance (Garland) Harper Doyle, to know the history of their family and to spend time in the mid-western outdoors where he had learned both the hardships and the benefits of hard work outdoors.
    Garland spent the last 10 years of his life residing in Hollywood and being occupied mainly with his psychic pursuits. He also continued to write articles and books, and to give lectures for various literary groups. He died on March 5, 1940.

    Subject matter

    Primarily letters written by Garland to Zulime Mauna (Taft) Garland, Mary Isabel (Garland) Johnson Lord, and Constance (Garland) Harper Doyle. The letters chiefly contain biographical information on Garland: his literary activities while on the lecture circuit, books and articles in progress, work with publishers, and general family matters. His business correspondence is concentrated in the years 1930-1940.
    A large number of letters to his daughter, Mary Isabel (Garland) Johnson Lord, during the years 1936-1937 describe his activities with Mr. & Mrs. Parent and his searches for buried Spanish and Indian crosses which lead to the published work, The Mystery of the Buried Crosses. Another large group of letters to his family relate his experiences in England and Europe in 1924 and 1925.


    Åhnebrink, Lars. The Beginnings of Naturalism in American Fiction. Harvard University Press, Cambridge, MA. 1950.
    Holloway, Jean. Hamlin Garland, A Biography. University of Texas Press, Austin. 1960.
    Pizer, Donald. Hamlin Garland: Newspaper and Periodical Publications, 1885-1895: A Bibliography. Bulletin of Bibliography. Vol. 22, no. 2. Jan.- Apr. 1957.
    Pizer, Donald, ed. Hamlin Garland's Diaries. The Huntington Library, San Marino. 1968.
    Contemporary Authors, vol. 104, p. 160.
    Dictionary of Literary Biography, vol. 12, pp. 203-212; vol. 71, pp. 71-81; vol. 78, pp. 179-194.
    National Cyclopedia of American Biography, vol. 8, p. 37.