Ella Wheeler, poet, novelist, and spiritualist, born November 5, 1850, in Johnstown Center, Wisconsin, was educated at home and at the University of Wisconsin. For a quarter-century from her first volume of pro-temperance poems, Drops of Water (1872), she wrote sentimentally and prolifically about the conventional family, where the man earns the living and the woman stays at home and bears children. Her works proved very popular in America. One book, Poems of Passion, enjoyed 60,000 sales over the first two years after publishers first refused to put it out, the idea that women had passions being corrupt. Ella Wheeler married a manufacturer, Robert Wilcox, in 1884. By the end of the century, although this marriage was a happy one, her ideas about women's lot had become less rosy. After his death, she set out to contact his spirit and believed that she had succeeded. During World War I she spoke to troups overseas about the family values they were fighting to keep. Her autobiography, The World and I, came out in 1918. A nervous breakdown took her, and then death on October 30, 1919, in Short Beach, Connecticut.
Jenny Ballou's Period Piece: Ella Wheeler Wilcox and her Times (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1940; PS 3313 .B3 Robarts Library) gives a modern biography.
Wilcox's publications include:
- Drops of Water (1872)
- Shells (1873)
- Maurine (1876). Also (Chicago: W. B. Conkey, 1888). PS 3312 M3 1888 York University Library A 1905 edition appears in CIHM no. 80475 MICR mfe Robarts Library
- Poems of Passion (1883). PS 3312 P3 1883A York University Library (Special Collections copy has the poet's own autograph dedication poems). Also (Chicago: Belford, Clarke, 1888). PS 3312 P3 York University Library
- Poems of Pleasure (1888) Another edition appears in CIHM no. 77989 MICR mfe.
- Men, Women, and Emotions (Chicago: W, B. COnkey, 1893).
- Three Women (Chicago: A. Whitman, 1897). PS 3312 T5 1897 York University Library
- The Englishman and Other Poems (Toronto: Musson, 19??). PS 3312 E55 Robarts Library
- Poems of Sentiment (1906)
- Yesterdays (1910). CIHM no. 84487 York University Library
- Poems of Cheer (Toronto: Musson, 1910?). CIHM no. 77990 MICR mfe
- Gems (1912)
- Poems of Pleasure and Passion (London: Gay and Hancock, 1914). PS 3312 .P6 1914 St. Michael's College Library
- Poems of Problems (Chicago: W. B. Conkey, 1914).
- Poems of Progress and new Thought Pastels (London: Gay and Hancock, 1916). H&SS A-652 Fisher Rare Book Library
- Poems of Life (Toronto: Musson, ?). CIHM no. 84490 MICR mfe
- Poetical Works (Toronto: Musson, 1917?). CIHM no. 79067 MICR mfe
- World Voices (New York: Hearst's International Library, 1916). PS 3312 W6 1916 York University Library
- Sonnets of Sorrow and Triumph (New York: G. H. Doron, 1918). PS 3312 S6 1918 York University Library
- More Poems (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1919). CIHM no. 78447 MICR mfe
- Collected Poems (Toronto: McClelland and Stewart, 1919). CIHM no. 78052 MICR mfe
- Collected Poems (London: L. B. Hill, 1924). PS 3310 A2 H5 York University Library