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,
including this writer.
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 second child, Willie.
(Field had a boy of his own named Willie.)
He also named a terrier after Jessie – that was
bred by the Davis' at the farm in Crown Point,
Field was good friends with English Shakespearean actor,
Henry Irving. In December 1901 Will Davis hosted a
private dinner at the Illinois Theater to fete
Irving and Ellen Terry, who were touring in the U.S. with
Stoker, Dracula author. The dinner was
attended by a couple of dozen of Chicago's literati
Marjorie Benton Cooke, the McCutcheon brothers
Eugene Field had been gone six years then, but his name
might have come up with affection at the gathering
of authors, playwrights and journalists.
to naming a school after Field, Chicago, in
1922, erected a sculptural memorial in Lincoln Park
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. If he'd still lived, I wonder if his
friendship with Will J. Davis would have survived
the Iroquois Theater fire at which so many children