joel harris negro dialect creator

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joel harris negro dialect creator - JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS. How the Popular Southern...
JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS. How the Popular Southern Author Began the Work That Brought Him Fame and Fortune. StjcCE the -.-ctirement or Joel Chandler "Harris from the staff o the Atlanta Constitution on September 1, after hav-lag served the paper tor nearly twenty-five " its !ea(!lrlS editorial writer, many jnteresting anecdotes concerning him have Men called forth. Perhaps the one which tdls how he began to write negro dialect Stories will be read with special interest by Ids frlands and admirers throughout the rjMrtSi. 3ir Harris began to "write the Constitution's leading editorials in 187$, and when ; :jie undertook this work he had no Idea of ' doing anything else. But Samuel "U". Small. widely known throughout the country ty the prefix or "Rev.," had boon very successful as the predecessor of Mr. Harris in writing negro .linlect stories over the nom .Be plumo of "Uncle St.' and Capt. Evan P. Jowell. who was then the editor-in-chief JOEL CHANDLER HARRIS. rof'tie paper, approached him on the sub-vsjjjt otr writing similar contributions. 5Harris," said ' Capt. Howell ; one .day -Steiea the former had been "-writing editorials .some two weeks or more, "suppose you try "our hand at writing . dialect stories like thoc of Sam Smg.lL Ihey are. good things tor the paper and everybody is talking about them. Can't you get up one for to--.- morrow's paper In addition to your edi-. torial work7" Mr. Harris looked tip at Capt. Howell m astonishment and then replied with some hesitation: "Why, Captain, I never undertook to unite dialect stories In my life. I don't believe I can do U. .You will have to let fine off." ..:-;"Yon don't-mean to tell me yon can't Write dialect stories, Harris," replied Capt. Howell. "You know you can. Granting that you have never tried your hand at it. I am nevertheless satisfied that you can write as good dialect stories as Sam Small. You have an acute sense of humor and you can sit down and tell plantation stories by the hour. So give us something in negro dialect for to-morrow's paper." When Mr. Harris was left alone after this brief interview he began to knit his eyebrows in profound study over Capt. Howell's suggestion. On trying to revive his recollections of plantation days in old Putnam county, where he was born, he found that he was in possession of an abundance of materia! for dialect stories. But could ho write them in such a stylo as to catch the popular ear? This was what troubled him. Elnally he decided to make an attempt, and after selecting the story which pleased him best he began to tell it Just as he had' heard It first from the Hps of one of the old;negroes on the plantation. He found that his idea of negro dialect differed in some material respects, from Sam Small's, but he preferred to be original, and without imitating "Uncle Si's" mannerisms he set about the ,task of producing his first dialect story according to his own notion. When he had finished it he began to cast about for an appropriate name to give the old negro into whose mouth he had put the story, and finally decided upon the name of "TJncle Remus." air. Harris was better satisfied with his work than he thought he would be. but still he was not easy in mind because he could not foresee how the story-would be received. But his anxieties were soon dispelled. "When the paper came out the next morning with his story occupying a corner on the editorial page everybody was captivated with it and wanted to know who Uncle Remus was. They found the humor of the story delicious and the dialect correct. Even those who raved over Uncle SI were frank enough to admit that Uncle Remus was still better, Capt. Howell was besieged with inquiries from people in every part' of the city wanting .to know something about this new writer of dialect stories who called himself "Uncle Remus," and soon letters of inquiry began to pour in from every part of the State. Uncle Remus was a success from the start. He was genuine. He was an embodiment of the humor, the pathos, the philosophy and the superstition of the antebellum negro, and every one that -knew the subject recognized the fidelity of the portraiture. On the morning of this eventful day In the life of Mr. Harris, when his first negro story appeared. Capt. Howell went into his room and greeted him with smiles which even more warmly than words bespoke his congratulations. "Well, Harris," said he, "you're a trump. "If you just keep up that lick your fortune Is made. Everybody Is talking about Uncle Remus, so give us another story." Without abandoning his editorial duties Air. Harris continued to furnish negro dialect stories to the paper almost daily, and as an evidence of the popularity which they speedily acquired, they were no sooner published than they were copied extensively by newspapers all over the United States. Soon Mr. Harris found himself in .receipt of numerous letters from magazines and other periodicals asking for dialect contributions. He filled most of the orders that he. received, but he continued steadily to toil away at his editorial work on the paper, and as an evidence of his industrious habits and his systematic methods of work he was enabled during his twenty-five years of laborious service on the paper to produce not less than eighteen or twenty books in addition to his regular work. Though Mr. Harris is best known to the world of literature as the creator of "Uncle Remus," he has lately acquired additional laurels as the creator of "Aunt Minervy Ann," whom many regard as superior to Uncle Remus. Mr. Harris has given up editorial work on the Constitution in response to the demands of his outside literary work, which during the past few years has been steadily Increasing. He retires from the paper not only with the good will but with the warm affection of every member of the staff, and he will no doubt continue to enrich its columns from time to time with frequent contributions. But being no longer fettered by the exactions of irksome routine work, it is more than likely that American literature will richly profit by his retirement from journalism. He is now In the meridian of physical and intellectual ?owers, and many years of usefulness lie n prospect before him. May he long continue to charm the public with his delightful stories of southern life and to bind his brow with fresh laurels. L. L. KNIGHT. Polar Record)! of Xoted Explorers. In attaining the latitude of 86 degrees 33 minutes the sledge party of the Duke of Abruzzi of Italy advanced to within about 239 statute miles of the North Pole. The sledging party under command of Capt. Cagni attained a point 21.83 statute miles nearer the pole than that reached by Nan-sen on April 7. 1895, who surpassed. Lock-wood's record of May. 1882, by 195.50 statute miles. The four highest records, all made within the past eighteen years, are: The Duke of Abruzzi, 1900, 239.15 statute miles from the pole; Nansen, 1895. 261 miles; the Fram, 1895 (during her drift after- Nansen left her), 28C.55 miles; Lockwood, 1882, 456.50 miles. Army and Navy Journal. Hops Grow Wild in Etagrlifth Counties. It is a somewhat remarkable fact that the hop, although only cultivated in a few districts in a few .English counties, yet grows freely in a wild condition in very many places. It is a perennial, flowering in July and August, and to be found in hedges and thickets. The plant Is only cultivated, for instance, in the northeastern portions of Hampshire, and about Peters-field, and even there it does not cover 3,000 acres in all. It grows and flourishes, however, in a wild state all over the county, including the Isle of Wight. London Express.

Clipped from
  1. Detroit Free Press,
  2. 23 Sep 1900, Sun,
  3. Page 35

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