Chicago, Illinois: A.C. McClurg & Company, 1892. First Trade Edition. Hard Cover. Near Fine / No Jacket. Item #2332409
First trade edition. Signed by author on half-title page without inscription. A few minor spots on boards, minor general wear.
ix, 301 pp. Green boards with gilt title on spine and front board, top edge gilt. Author's first book, originally published in 300-copy edition, 1891. Monroe founded Poetry: A Magazine of Verse and served as editor, publishing poems by T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, H.D., William Carlos Williams, Robert Frost, etc. Monroe, Harriet (23 December 1860–26 September 1936), poet and editor, was born Hattie Monroe in Chicago, Illinois, the daughter of Henry Stanton Monroe, a lawyer, and Martha Mitchell. Her parents, both of Scotch ancestry and moderately wealthy, came to Chicago in the early 1850s. Their differing personalities created tension that colored Harriet’s childhood. The family enjoyed material prosperity until bad decisions in rebuilding his law practice after the Chicago fire of 1871 caused serious career reverses for Henry Monroe. From her father, Monroe learned to love literature and the arts. Her education began in his library, where Harriet, a shy, frail, and nervous child, spent hours reading Shakespeare, Byron, Shelley, Dickens, and Thackeray. After suffering a severe unidentified illness in 1876, she was sent the next year to Visitation Convent in Georgetown, D.C. Although her family was neither Catholic nor religious, it was believed that a milder climate would improve her health. At Visitation, her health improved, she became more independent, and her intellectual and literary aspirations were encouraged by the faculty, especially by Sister Pauline, her instructor in English literature and composition. After graduating from Visitation in 1879, Monroe returned to the family home in Chicago, where she would remain until her father’s death in 1903. During the next ten years she participated in the social and intellectual life of the rapidly growing city. She continued to try her hand at prose and poetry, while declining family funds motivated her to search for work. She began a career in journalism, writing freelance reviews of art, music, and drama for Chicago and New York papers. As her literary experience grew, so did her circle of friends, which included influential writers and journalists such as Margaret Sullivan, Eugene Field, and Robert Louis Stevenson, with whom she carried on a long-distance correspondence. Throughout the 1880s trips to New York with her sister Lucy continued to widen her social and professional circle, and Monroe became a regular attendant at the literary salons of important figures such as Edmund C. Stedman and Richard Watson Gilder. In 1888 her first published poem, “With Shelley’s Poems,” appeared in Century Magazine. That same year, while working as an art critic for the Chicago Tribune, she was commissioned by the city fathers to write an ode of dedication for the new Chicago Auditorium. Another commission followed in March 1891 for the Chicago’s World’s Columbian Exhibition. On 21 October 1892 “The Columbian Ode” was read at the fair’s dedication, where it was well received. From 1895 to 1910 Monroe’s life was occupied with travel, continuing her career as a freelance journalist, teaching, and writing. Efforts to become a major literary presence were continually frustrated, and finances continued to be strained, but early in 1911 at age fifty, she began a project that would have a major impact on the literary world of the twentieth century. Partially in response to the difficulty encountered in finding a publisher for her own verse, she conceived the idea of Poetry, a magazine devoted exclusively to the publication of poetry and the advancement of promising young poets. At the time, no such periodical existed in the United States, and other popular literary journals were often hesitant to publish poetry. However, Monroe asserted that “poetry cannot sing into a void” and began her project in the hopes of reenergizing the somewhat stagnant state of American poetry. With the help of close friends Hobart Chatfield-Taylor and Henry Fuller, she used her extensive social and professional connections to compile a list of financial contributors that included many of Chicago’s wealthiest art patrons. Reading a considerable portion of available published poetry also provided her with a substantial list of possible contributors. Finally, after publication funds for the magazine’s first five years were secured, Poetry: A Magazine of Verse was born in October 1912. Alice Corbin Henderson was the magazine’s first associate editor, while Ezra Pound served as its foreign correspondent. Poetry gained immediate national attention in the popular press, and the magazine soon became an important forum for critical discussion and a showplace for promising new poets. Robert Frost, Wallace Stevens, T. S. Eliot, and James Joyce were among the many major literary figures to have their early work published in Poetry. The final twenty-four years of Monroe’s life were occupied primarily with Poetry; she was the main force that ensured the magazine’s success during the tumultuous years of the early twentieth century. She also continued to enjoy travel, and she spent time exploring Europe, Mexico, and China during the 1920s and 1930s. In August 1936 Monroe, then seventy-six, attended a conference of the International Association of Poets, Essayists, and Novelists (PEN) in Buenos Aires, Argentina. She died while visiting Inca ruins and was buried at the foot of Mount Misti in the Andes. She had never married. In Poetry, Monroe created an exciting new forum in which modern poetry could flourish. As a skilled editor, she was instrumental in unearthing and encouraging promising new poets. While today she is often less remembered as a poet, her dedication as an editor and lover of poetry had a strong impact on the literary world of the early twentieth century. - American National Biography