Western History / Genealogy > Eugene Field Collection

Eugene Field Collection

Eugene Field is one of America's beloved children's poets, sometimes referred to as the "Children's Laureate." His most famous poems include "Little Boy Blue," "Wynken, Blynken, and Nod" and "The Duel." Field was also a journalist and lived in Denver in 1881-1883 while working as an editor with the Denver Tribune newspaper. The Eugene Field Collection at the Denver Public Library is comprised of manuscripts and first-edition books by Field, which were collected by Willard S. Morse, one-time manager of the Tabor Grand Opera House. In 1975, the library purchased the Burt Massee collection, which more than doubled its Field mauscript holdings.

Eugene Field 1859-1895
Eugene Field

Field [1850-1895] was born in St. Louis, and raised in New England during the formative years of his life. His schooling included private instruction, private schools, and four different institutions of higher education. When his father died in 1869, Field spent some of the inheritance adventuring in Europe for six months with his future brother-in-law. When he returned to the States, he began his life as a journalist.

Field's first position was in 1873 with the St. Louis Evening Journal as a reporter. The same year he married Julia Sutherland Comstock, beginning a family of ten. From 1873 to 1883, Field held editorial jobs in St. Joseph, Missouri and also in St. Louis, Kansas City and Denver. The major part of his journalistic career took place in Chicago.

A column he wrote for the Chicago Morning News, "Sharps and Flats," allowed him to write "what I please on any subject I please." He earned a reputation for satirical, humorous writing, his brother describing Field's "quick appreciation of the ludicrous and his power of delineating personal particularities." He also had a knack for mimicry, which showed in miner's dialect he wrote shortly after he arrived in Denver, and which, according to his brother, was "rightly placed at the head of that style of composition."*


Eugene Field Public Library

Field's Denver home was bought in 1927 by Mrs. Margaret Tobin Brown ("Unsinkable Molly") for purposes of a museum. She sold it to the City in 1930, which used it for many years as a branch library. It was moved from its original location at 315 W. Colfax Avenue to Washington Park south of town, where it stands today and is maintained by a volunteer organization of park enthusiasts.

The library's Field manuscript collection is 30 linear feet and includes: Field's writings in his own pen; family correspondence; programs from Field's readings and lectures; photographs of him, his family, and his friends; a scrapbook; investigations on Field conducted by collectors and researchers; articles, stories,and verses by and about Field; and approximately 100 books from Field's personal library.


*"Eugene Field: A Memory", by Roswell Field. Originally written in 1896.

Photo by Randel Metz
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod statue in Washington Park, Denver, Colorado

Eugene Field

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe-
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.
"Where are you going, and what do you wish?"
The old moon asked the three.
"We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!"
Said Wynken,
And Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in that beautiful sea-
"Now cast your nets wherever you wish-
Never afeard are we,"
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
And Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam-
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home;
'Twas all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be,
And some folks thought 'twas a dream they'd dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea-
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
And Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is the wee one's trundle-bed.
So shut your eyes while mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
And Nod.


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A Eugene Field poem and drawing in the writer's own hand


Western History / Genealogy Department
The Denver Public Library

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