Eugene Field (September 2, 1850 - November 4, 1895) was an American writer, best known for poetry for children and for humorous essays.
Field was born in St. Louis, Missouri. After the death of his mother he was raised by a cousin in Amherst, Massachusetts.
He briefly attended various colleges in Massachusetts and Missouri, but did not take his studies seriously for any length of time, and became known for his jokes and pranks. He eventually graduated from Knox College. He tried acting, and studied law with little result. He then set off for a trip through Europe, then returned to the United States six months later penniless. Field then set to work as a journalist for the Gazette in Saint Joseph, Missouri in 1875. The same year he married Julia Comstock. The couple would have 8 children. For the rest of his life he arranged for all his pay to be sent to his wife, as he said he had no head for money himself.
Field soon rose to become city editor of the Gazette.
He became known for articles written in a light, humorous, gossipy style, some of which were reprinted by other newspapers, out-of-state.
From 1876 through 1880 he lived in St. Louis, where he was editorial writer first for that city's Morning Journal and then for the Times-Journal. He then took a job as managing editor of the Kansas City Times, then from 1881 began two years as managing editor of the Tribune of Denver, Colorado, where he lived in the Washington Park neighborhood, where his house has been moved to the park in his honor.
In 1883 he moved to Chicago, Illinois where he wrote a humorous newspaper column called Sharps & Flats for the Chicago Daily News. His home in Chicago was near the intersection of N. Clarendon and W. Hutchinson in the neighborhood now known as Buena Park.
He first started publishing poetry on the side in 1879, when his book Christian Treasures appeared. Over a dozen more volumes followed, and he became well known for his light-hearted poems for children; perhaps the best known is "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod".
Field died in Chicago at the age of 45. He is buried at Church of the Holy Comforter in Kenilworth, Illinois, though his 1901 biography by S. Thompson states that he was originally buried in Graceland Cemetery in Chicago.
The Dinky Bird
, by Maxfield Parrish, an illustration from Poems of Childhood
by Eugene Field
Several of his poems were set to music with commercial success. Many of his works were accompanied by paintings from Maxfield Parrish. His former home in Downtown St. Louis is now a museum. There is a memorial to him (erected in 1922) at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago. The memorial consists primarily of a statute of the "Dream Lady" from his poem, "Rock-a-by-Lady." There is also a park and fieldhouse named in his honor in Chicago's Albany Park neighborhood.
Field has his own star on the St. Louis Walk of Fame. Numerous elementary schools throughout the Midwest are named for him.