April 29, 2013
April 29, 2013
Edward Eggleston (1837-1902
By Barbara Schock
habit of holding the mind open to conviction, and
the habit of
Carl Sandburg, in his autobiography, described reading a book by Edward Eggleston, How to Educate Yourself . He pondered the statement above for some time. He checked dictionaries and encyclopedias to be sure he understood all the words. It took some time, but he felt it was worth the effort. He asked himself questions such as: “What do I do when I think? What is thinking? What do I do when I see? Can I be too careful about what I think I see? Can my eyes fool me? Everything outside has its inside worth thinking about.”
Edward Eggleston was born near Vevay, Indiana, December 10, 1837. He was mostly educated by his father and step-father because his health limited his attendance at school. At the age of nineteen, he became a Methodist circuit rider in Indiana, and later a pastor in Minnesota.
In 1866, Eggleston moved to Chicago to work for The Little Corporal, the first American magazine written for children. He became a sort of “urban wanderer” writing about the paradoxes of the city. He saw that newspapers interested the public in sensational stories rather than useful information. Department stores created desires in individuals which were impossible to control. Streetcars mixed all sorts of people together with unexpected results.
The Hoosier School-Master was written as a serial for The Little Corporal. It was also published as a novel and became one of Eggleston’s best known books. The story was based on the experiences of his younger brother. The book became very popular and was translated into French, German and Danish. He also wrote The Circuit Rider about his own experiences.
Eggleston continued writing stories for children, historical fiction and later branched out to writing about the history of America. He approached this writing by reflecting the character of the people and the time in which they lived. He paid attention to social, religious and intellectual qualities which contributed to or were caused by the events of the period. His interest in writing about the Colonial and Revolutionary periods came naturally as his ancestors came to Virginia in the 17th century from England.
In 1870 Eggleston moved to New York to edit another publication. He also served as pastor to a congregation in Brooklyn. He didn’t return to Chicago, but his writing about the Midwest was the beginning of a literary tradition in which Carl Sandburg and many other writers participated.
The books of Edward Eggleston can be read on the Project Gutenberg site < http://www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/author/3293 >.