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|Abstract||Correspondence and newspaper clippings relating to North Carolina poet John Charles McNeill. The correspondence consists of letters McNeill wrote while he was a student at Wake Forest College, 1894-1898.|
|Creator||McNeill, John Charles, 1874-1907.|
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John Charles McNeill, youngest of five children of Duncan and Euphemia McNeill, was born near Wagram in Scotland County, N.C., on 26 July 1874. Many of his poems are nostalgic evocations of a happy boyhood spent roaming the fields and woods, swimming and hunting and fishing, working along the rows with white and black laborers, and attending the "old field" school. Before entering Wake Forest College in 1894, he studied at Whiteville Academy, clerked in a store, and taught in Georgia. At Wake Forest, he was an exemplary student, contributed poems to and edited the literary journal, and took special law courses. Briefly he was on the faculties at Wake Forest and Mercer University.
When 26, he opened a law office in Lumberton, wrote poems and stories for the local newspaper, but after several years moved to Laurinburg to practice, and was elected to the state legislature. He had little interest in deeds and writs, and only the personalities of those involved in courtroom battles intrigued him. Meanwhile, the Youth's Companion in 1901 accepted a poem by him, and the Century Magazine over a four-year span used eighteen selections, both lyrics and dialect verse. In September 1904, the Charlotte Observer invited him to the staff to write when and what he wished. In the Observer over the next three years appeared 467 of his poems, only 134 of them collected in his two published books. Besides the columns of poetry, he wrote anecdotes, fables, reports on fires and funerals, book reviews, and covered special events in North Carolina and South Carolina. His popularity soared, and his byline became regionally famous. "The little loves and sorrows are my song," he said. His dialect verse and his poems on nature and religion are chaste productions of a man who was himself warm-hearted and uncomplicated. He died on 17 October 1907. His works are Songs Merry and Sad (1906), Lyrics from Cotton Land (1907), and Select Prose of John Charles McNeill (1936).
[Taken from the biographical sketch by Richard Walser in Southern Writers: A Biographical Dictionary.]Back to Top
Correspondence and newspaper clippings relating to North Carolina poet John Charles McNeill. The correspondence consists of letters McNeill wrote while he was a student at Wake Forest College, 1894-1898.Back to Top
Processed by: Connie Cartledge, September 1985
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