Sunday, 20 November 2016

Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1850 – 1919) – American poet “The Poetess of Passion”

Many people today may know the line “Smile and the world smiles with you” from Ella’s poem “Solitude”, first published in “The New York Sun” in 1898, but how many people have heard of the American 'poetess of passion'?   “Ella Wheeler Wilcox was probably the most widely read poet of the day” selling 100,000 copies of her poetry collection “One Hundred Poems” in the early years of the twentieth century (Hollis, 40). 

When planning his trip to America, Rupert Brooke suggested he might take a “message for the continent of America and for Ella Wheeler” (Hollis, 67).

Ella travelled to France during the First World War to read poetry to the American Troops.  They were very pleased to see her and really appreciated her performances. In spite of her fame, Ella Wheeler Wilcox is now one of the ‘forgotten’ poets of the First World War.

Ella features in Volume 1 of Female Poets of the First World War available from

Also available as a download.

Source:  “Now all Roads lead to France  The Last Years of Edward Thomas” by Matthew Hollis (Faber & Faber, London, 2012)