Hamlin Garland was born on September 14 or 16, 1860, near West Salem, Wisconsin, and grew up on farms in Iowa and the Dakotas. After years of toil on what was then sometimes called the Middle Border, Garland retreated to Boston, where he educated himself and began writing stories of the places he had left behind. Main-Travelled Roads (1891) was his first book. Others—with titles such as Prairie Folks (1893), Prairie Songs (1893), and Boy Life on the Prairie (1899)—followed. In the early 1900s, Garland wrote romances of the Mountain West. In later years he returned to a Midwestern setting in his semi-autobiographical account, A Son of the Middle Border (1917), and its three sequels. Main-Travelled Roads and A Son of the Middle Border are considered his strongest works. However, Garland won a Pulitzer Prize for A Daughter of the Middle Border in 1922.
Even as a young man, Hamlin Garland was interested in topics from the fringes. He was an early advocate of Henry George’s idea of the single tax. More to the point, Garland was interested in psychic phenomena, the subject of his last two books, Forty Years of Psychic Research (1936) and The Mystery of the Buried Crosses (1939). Although he lived in Chicago from 1893 to 1915 or 1916, Garland had relocated to New York by the time J.C. Henneberger was in Chicago. Henneberger may have known him only as a visitor to or part-time resident of that city. In any case, Hamlin Garland—by then a published author of dozens of books—was awarded a Pulitzer Prize in 1922. A few months later Weird Tales made its debut. If Garland ever talked to Henneberger about writing stories for a magazine of weird fiction, the idea may have just slipped away after 1922. Garland continued to write even to the end of his life. In 1932, he moved to California to be near his daughters and for the sake of his wife’s health. Eight years later, on March 4, 1940, Hamlin Garland died in his Hollywood home at age seventy-nine.
To be continued . . .
Text copyright 2014 Terence E. Hanley