Get Your Premium Membership

James Whitcomb Riley Biography | Poet

Photo of James Whitcomb Riley

James Whitcomb Riley (Greenfield, Indiana October 7, 1849 – July 22, 1916), beloved American writer and poet called the "Hoosier poet" and America's "Children's Poet" made a start writing newspaper verse in Hoosier dialect for the Indianapolis Journal in 1875. Some of his phrases remained in the popular repertory after the poems were no longer read: "when the frost is on the punkin." Known for his dialect recitations and pithy pragmatic remarks, his popular verse was humorous or sentimental— one of whose sentimental poems was "Little Orphant Annie" He knew the secret of his own success: “simple sentiments that come from the heart” and satisfied his public with modest verse that was "heart high." He supported himself touring with dialect and public readings of his poetry. His favorite authors were Burns and Dickens. His last collection was Knee Deep in June (1912).

As the "People's Laureate," his poems were considered so inspiring, in 1915 the Secretary of the Interior suggested that one of his poems be read in each school-house in the land.

"When I see a bird that walks like a duck and swims like a duck and quacks like a duck, I call that bird a duck."— James Whitcomb Riley

James Whitcomb Riley: Poems | Best Poems | Short Poems | Quotes

Book: Shattered Sighs