Edwin Markham, circa 1925
Charles Edwin Anson Markham: Biography
American poet Charles Edwin Anson Markham was born in Oregon, spent the early part of his career in California, moved to Staten Island in 1901, and remained on the island until his death in 1940. Markham's son, Virgil, donated the poet's manuscripts, photographs, correspondence, selected books, and ephemera upon his father's death. Markham was a prolific letter writer and had correspondence with many important figures of his time, including Ambrose Bierce, Jack London, Carl Sandburg, Herbert Hoover, Amy Lowell, and Theodore and Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Markham is best known for his spirited protest against the exploitation of poor laborers in "The Man with the Hoe", inspired by Jean-Francois Millet's painting of the same title. Published in the San Francisco Examiner in 1899, almost overnight it became a literary sensation. Markham had "sounded a trumpet blast of social justice," one critic wrote, for the poor and oppressed people of the world. The response was astounding. It became the single most commercially successful poem ever published. Translated into forty languages, including Arabic and Japanese, it was read worldwide and remains anthologized today.
Another widely known poem was "Lincoln, the Man of the People", which Markham delivered at the inauguration of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D. C., in 1922.
He published several volumes of verse, including The Man with the Hoe and Other Poems (1899), Lincoln and Other Poems (1901), The Ballad of the Gallows Bird (1896), and Gates of Paradise (1920). He also edited many anthologies of poetry. His prose work, Children in Bondage (1914), was a landmark in the crusade against child labor.
Explore a biographical entry on Edwin Markham (created by Dr. Joseph Slade, Markham scholar, Ohio University).