Hannibal Hamlin Garland was born on a farm near West Salem, in Wisconsin. When he was eight years old his family moved to the Iowa prairie, where he grew up in the hard rural life he described in his books. In 1881, after graduating from Cedar Valley Seminary in Osage, Iowa, he taught school for a year in Illinois before moving to Boston, where, penniless and unknown, he spent a winter reading in the public library. Here he first became acquainted with the writings of Henry George and Herbert Spencer, who gave him the ethical and social inspiration to accept the realities of the agricultural life.
A trip back to his father’s Dakota farm in 1887 confirmed Garland in his desire to write about the life of the plains. With the encouragement of the writer Joseph Kirkland he began his first stories, which were printed in Century, Harper’s Weekly, and Arena. After his writing had made him famous, Garland, in 1893, moved to Chicago, where he remained until 1916. He counted among his friends and acquaintances some of the prominent literary figures of the time, including William Dean Howells, Mark Twain, George Bernard Shaw, and Rudyard Kipling. In 1916 he moved to New York and in 1930 to Los Angeles, where he died ten years later.
Main-Travelled Roads, Garland’s first collection of stories, belongs to the more important documents of American literary history. It is a conscientious record of the midwestern...
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