Lindsay, Vachel

Lindsay, Vachel (1879 - 1931)


Vachel Lindsay was born in Springfield, Illinois, on November 10, 1879. After graduating from Hiram College, Ohio, in 1900, he began a short-lived career in art and lectured at the Y.M.C.A. in New York. In 1906 he made a walking tour of the south in which he handed out a poem, "The Tree of Laughing Bells," in return for food and a place to sleep -- a venture described later in his A Handy Guide for Beggars (New York: Macmillan, 1916; PS 3523 .I58H3 Robarts Library) -- and he made another partial walking tour in 1912 west as far as New Mexico. Chanting, jazz rhythms, and a preaching style characterized his public poetry readings. His five major volumes of poetry were General William Booth Enters into Heaven and Other Poems (1913), The Congo and Other Poems (1914), The Chinese Nightingale and Other Poems (1917), The Daniel Jazz and Other Poems (1920), and The Golden Whales of California (1920). His popularity peaked early and then waned. He married Elizabeth Conner in 1925, and they had two children. He died by suicide in Springfield on December 5, 1931. Lindsay's Letters were edited by Marc Chenetier (New York: B. Franklin, 1979; PS 3523 .I58Z48). The latest edition of his verse, The Poetry of Vachel Lindsay, is by Dennis Camp in three volumes (Peoria, Illinois: Spoon River Poetry Press, 1984-86; PS 3523 I58A17). For a biography, see Eleanor Ruggles' The West-going Heart (1959; PS 3523 I58Z76 Scarborough College).

Given Name
Family Name
Birth Date
November 10, 1879
Death Date
December 5, 1931
  • Hiram College, Ohio

Literary Period
Literary Movement
Cause of Death