Eugene Field (1850-1895) was a
Missouri poet and journalist
who came to Chicago in 1883.
Chicago Daily News column, "Sharps and Flats,"
was the first
newspaper column in the country; his
poems are forever part of American
literature. Generally considered to be
about children, for enjoyment by adults, some Field poems
have nonetheless delighted children for generations.
Among these: The Duel between the gingham
dog and the calico cat, Daniel and the Devil,
Wynken, Blynken and Nod,
Christmas and The Sugar-Plum Tree.
was a lifelong enthusiast of people who worked in and around
the theater. He was a personal
friend of Iroquois Theater manager,
Will J. Davis,
and his wife, celebrity contralto,
In one long poem Field
J. Davis' vest. He inscribed one
Hushaby, to Jessie, and wrote another,
The Singer Mother, to
celebrate the birth of their 2nd baby, Willie.
(Field had a boy named Willie of his own.)
He also named a terrier after Jessie -- that was
bred by the Davis' at the farm in Crown Point,
Field enjoyed an especial
friendship with English Shakespearean actor, Sir
Henry Irving. In 1901 Will Davis hosted a
private dinner at the Illinois Theater to fete
Irving, who was touring in the U.S. with Bram
Stoker, Dracula author. The dinner was
attended by a couple dozen of Chicago's literati.
Eugene Field had been gone six years then but it is
likely that his name came up with affection
and respect at the gathering of authors, playwrights
to naming a school after Field, Chicago in
1922 erected a sculptural memorial in Lincoln Park. The
sculpture by Edward McCartan, known as Dream
Lady, was funded with $25,000 raised by school
Two Iroquois Theater victims were students at the
Eugene Field elementary school on
John Vinton Clayton. The Field school was
built in 1890 to service students kindergarten
through grade eight and in 1903 served over
nine hundred students.
One of Eugene Field's best
remembered poems was a sad piece about a boy that
Little Boy Blue. Field had five
children of his own. I wonder if his
friendship with Will J. Davis would have survived
the Iroquois Theater fire at which so many children