Ella Wheeler Wilcox

On this date in 1850, popular poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox was born in Wisconsin. She skyrocketed to fame when a Chicago firm refused to publish a collection of her emotional love poems, calling them immoral. As a result, when Poems of Passion was published in 1883, it sold 60,000 copies in two years. Although well-known for her moral and temperance poems, collected in Drops of Water, Ella had a theatrical bent, veiled herself in unorthodoxy and enjoyed life as a famous socialite. Her poem, "The Queen's Last Ride," about attending the funeral of Queen Victoria, launched her fame in Great Britain. Following her husband's death in 1906, she became convinced she could commune with the dead. Although she departed life as an irrationalist, embracing a somewhat progressive "New Thought," Ella deserves to be considered an honorary freethinker on the strength of her four-line poem, "The World's Need" (see quote.) D. 1919.

The World's Need

So many Gods, so many creeds,
So many paths that wind and wind,
When just the art of being kind
Is all this sad world needs.

—-Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Compiled by Annie Laurie Gaylor

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