George Allan England: The Harvard Years

by Bob Gay

The College Yard as seen from Holworthy circa 1902
The College Yard
as seen from Holworthy
circa 1902

When discussing his life, George Allan England seemed to gloss over his years spent at Harvard. This is not uncommon, as most people tend to leave their college experiences, both good and bad, behind them once they make the full transition to adulthood. In England’s case, however, his reticence to discuss his Harvard years ignored a body of work that has never been cataloged or reprinted...until now.

Our research has discovered that England was a published author while still at Harvard; with his first works appearing nearly six years before what he claimed was his first published appearance in 1905. This collection of prose, articles and poetry, which has been verified except as noted, appeared in The Harvard Illustrated Magazine, where England worked as an editor for nearly his entire college career. We have also discovered slim evidence to suggest that England was sporadically published in a number of sources outside of Harvard, but the majority of these appearances, while briefly discussed, have yet to be verified.

This page, then, is an attempt to document England’s work while a student at Harvard. The first section is an overview of England’s college career. This is followed, in the second section, by a history of The Harvard Illustrated Magazine, including England’s involvement both as a writer and member of the editorial board. The third section is an annotated bibliography of all of England’s appearances in the Illustrated. A fourth section can be considered a work in progress which, when completed, will reprint all of England’s available prose pieces from the Illustrated. Lastly, we have also chosen to include a section concerning Underneath the Bough: A Book of Verses with our discussions of England’s Harvard work. While this book did not appear until after England’s departure from Harvard, over a third of the volume consists of poems that first appeared in the Illustrated and and there is a good chance that the remainder may have been written or translated while he was still a student as well. A discussion of Underneath the Bough is followed by the complete table of contents and reviews of the collection.

While it is often a rather dicey proposition to reprint student writings, regardless of the author’s pedigree, we feel that these early works have a great deal of merit. England is largely forgotten today, but was an extremely popular author in his day. Although he established his early reputation as a writer of science fiction—long before the Gernsback Era and a genre for which England coined the term “Pseudo-Scientific”—he was a capable writer who was comfortable with a variety of styles and genres. While these seminal efforts may show some rough edges, we feel they are important, as they not only demonstrate versatility, but also suggest that had his life taken a slightly different turn, England might have entered directly into a fiction writing career once he graduated from Harvard and may, in fact, have considered fiction writing as a vocation while still a student.

We are pleased to be able to present a hitherto undocumented portion of the life of George Allan England. We hope you enjoy it.

Bob Gay
February, 2015
Introduction © 2015 by Bob Gay
Editor’s Note: This article seemed to grow by itself and has resulted in quite a large web page. Rather than split the page up into multiple pages (we hate the back button) we have, instead, chosen to allow the reader to open and close the major sections of the work as they see fit. By clicking or tapping the “Show” and “Hide” texts where they appear on the page, the corresponding section will open or close. This technique works in both regular computers and mobile devices.
It should also be noted that we have retained the spelling and style of the quoted sections as they originally appeared.
Of course, research for this article required the accessing of reference material from many sources and thanks must be given to:
  • Lucille Houde, Library Services Assistant at the Sterling Memorial Library of Yale University, who was instrumental in the finalizing of England’s Harvard Illustrated bibliography.
  • Robin Carlaw, Researcher, Harvard University Archives, Pusey Library-Harvard Yard, who was able to access what few historical records exist regarding The Harvard Illustrated Magazine.
  • And, lastly, Bill Moyer whose wife is England’s great niece. Bill was kind of enough to respond to some email inquiries regarding family history and to also allow us to use some of the material he produced for a genealogical overview of England found here (George Allan England) on a page maintained by Mark DiVecchio.

George Allan England at Harvard

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It is assumed that George Allan England entered Harvard in 1898. This date is derived from his graduation date of 1902 and, in the late 1800s/early 1900s, it was pretty much the standard that one entered a university on a given date and exited, barring a major calamity, four years later. In England’s case, there does not seem to be any mention of a gap in his college years, so this date of enrollment would seem logical.

Why England chose Harvard is another question. Granted, Harvard was a prestigious school and England’s career aspirations were outlined by him in the autobiographical article, “The Fiction Factory,” he wrote in 1913 for the magazine, The Independent Weekly:

I planned to be a professor and wear spectacles, also write Ph.D. after my name and be very wise. Instead, I have neither the Ph.D. nor the spectacles. Fate willed otherwise.

A Ph.D. from Harvard would have been a good start on the path to a professorship, but the expense of attending Harvard must have been a major consideration. Records indicate that the tuition to Harvard in 1900 was $150 (US)—the equivalent of over $4,000 (US) in 2015. As England’s father died around the time George was five or six years old (the family may have moved to Boston around this time), and there is no record his mother ever having remarried, where did the money come from? Bill Moyer offers one possible source, when he mentions that England’s son-in-law, Donald Russell, claimed that England's tuition was paid for by his aunt, who wanted a reliable coachman. Whether this story is true or not, attendance at Harvard would have allowd England to stay in close proximity to his mother and family and, of course, having a Harvard degree would have been a plus if he had indeed wanted to enter into academics as a career.

While there seems to be no clear explanation of how England paid his initial tuition, there are other pieces of information that suggest how how he continued at the university. In a 1923 newspaper interview, England states:

When I was in Harvard, I edited the “Harvard Illustrated Magazine,” and used to write college news for the Boston papers.

And, a little further on:

My health was undermined by my having to work my way through college, tutoring the sons of the rich...

While England’s assertion that he wrote college news for Boston papers cannot be proved, or disproved, research has shown that England had an unknown number of poems published in various papers and magazines during his time at the university (discussed in the “Underneath the Bough” section below). One other possible source of income might have come from his involvement with the Illustrated, but a search of the records of the Illustrated contain no information as to whether England (or any other students) were paid for their involvement, either as editors or contributors. Acting as a tutor, then, would seem to be the most logical source of England’s income, since there is every indication that he excelled at academics.

The first academic awards England received are listed in the December 21, 1899 issue of The Boston Evening Transcript. Under the column heading of “SCHOOL AND COLLEGE Honor Men at Harvard,” there is a list of all the students who received “deturs” (books awarded to sophomores who have attained very high academic standing at the end of their freshman year) along with listings of those who received scholarships and other awards. England is mentioned as having received a detur and is also listed among the students for the class of 1902 who received scholarships for the year of 1899.

Another academic accolade was announced in the January 21, 1901 issue of the Harvard Crimson under the heading of “Misceallanea”:

The New York Herald recently offered prizes for the best rhymed translation of “La Couse des Grands Masques” a poem on automobile racing, written by Gaiten du Moauine for the Paris “Cadet.” The first prize of five hundred francs [Ed. note: approx. $95 US] has been awarded to George Allan England ’02. A second rendering by the same author using American slang terms, was given honorable mention.

There may, or may not, have been other awards, prizes and scholarships, but records of these have been lost to history. In fact, the next mentions of England’s academic accomplishments don't appear until 1903.

The Harvard Crimson for Dec. 16, 1903 lists England (then working on his Master’s degree) as a first prize winner of the Bowdoin Prize for dissertations in English for work as an undergraduate. The Bowdoin Prizes are considered to be some of Harvard’s most prestigious student awards—sort of like the university’s version of the Pulitzer Prize. Essays compete in a number of categories and are required to demonstrate both originality and high literary merit. Each winner receives a cash award, a medal, a certificate, and his or her name is printed in the Commencement program. Some of the winners of the Bowdoin Prize have included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Richard Henry Dana, Jr. and John Updike. England’s prize-winning essay was either titled Literary and Feministic Influences of Petrarchism or English Petrarchism, a study of the influence of Petrarch on Elizabethan sonnet-sequences (to which England added, parenthetically in one interview, “No publishers have ever been willing to print this.”).

Two months later, The Harvard Crimson for Feb. 16, 1903 includes England’s name among those students elected to the Phi Beta Kappa Society. Then in June, 1903, with graduation nearing, England's home state of Nebraska recognizes his college career in a short article that appeared in The Norfolk Weekly News-Journalon June 12th:

Honors to Norfolk.
[From Tuesday’s Daily.]
The following dispatch has been sent out to papers:
Cambridge, Mass.,—George Allan England, a Norfolk, Neb., man, who has made a powerful record all through his course at Harvard, has just captured the $250 Bowdoin prize for the best English dissertation submitted by an undergraduate. England graduates in a few days. He is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, the highest scholastic society at Harvard, and one of the most brilliant men Harvard has had in years.

Curiously, for all the academic honors and the (assumed) notoriety from his involvement with the Illustrated, England seems to have been nearly a ghost during his time at Harvard. A search of The Harvard Crimson returns very little information. His picture does not appear among the graduating class pictures in The Harvard (Class) Album 1902 (a yearbook of sorts) and his name is not listed among the senior class members. He also appears to be absent from the picture of the Editorial Board of The Harvard Illustrated Magazine—ten names are listed, but only nine appear in the picture and none of those pictured seem to resemble England. Yet, England was well enough known in Cambridge, that the following snippet appeared in the August 29, 1903 Cambridge Chronicle in a social type column entitled “Old Cambridge. Harvard Square and About There.”:

Mr. George Allan England is in New York. He will probably accept an Instructorship in the Romance Language at Harvard in the fall.

The Harvard Illustrated Magazine

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Harvard Illustrated Magazine Vol. 1 No. 1 October, 1899
The Harvard Illustrated Magazine
Vol. 1 No. 1
October, 1899

The Harvard Illustrated Magazine began publication in October, 1899. The exact how, or why of the magazine’s founding is a bit of a mystery. The archives of Harvard University do contain a collection of documents related to the Illustrated, but the only mention of the actual founding comes not from Harvard, but from an article in the October 2, 1899 issue of The Boston Post which appeared as follows:

It Is to Be a Monthly and Will Be Handsomely Illustrated.

Harvard undergraduate enterprise is to take a new form in the publishing line. In addition to the many daily, weekly, monthly and annual publications, George Griffiths, who with W. K. Vanderbilt, Jr., made the Advocate the first among Harvard papers in a financial way, as it had been in other ways, has conceived the idea of something new, which so far meets with great approval among the undergraduates. This publication is to [be] known as the Illustrated Magazine.

It is to be a monthly publication, handsomely illustrated with pen and ink sketches, half tones and many historical sketches of interest to Harvard graduates and undergraduates alike. A feature of these latter articles will be a series of famous old plates.

This new scheme has excellent financial backing, and it comes into a new field at Harvard. It takes up local matters of interest to all Harvard men past and present. C. M. Bill and R. Edwards of the Lampoon have charge of the art department .

The cover is to be one to attract attention. It is old English in design, with a Harvard shield at the bottom, athletic cuts on the side, and at the top a design representing the arts and sciences.

While the article does outline the planned content of the Illustrated, it assumes that the reader would know who Griffiths and Vanderbilt were, what they did for the Advocate and, for that matter, what the Advocate was.

The Harvard Advocate was, and is, a literary magazine published by the students of Harvard and began publication in 1866, making it the oldest continually published college literary magazine in the US. In the May 17, 1899 issue, there is a very short snippet on the first page mentioning that W. K. Vanderbilt, Jr. had been “elected as a business editor.”—Vanderbilt being a member of the Vanderbilt family, one of the wealthiest in the US at the time. What he did as business editor is unknown, but one would assume that he turned the financial fortunes of the magazine around in some form or other and that he did this while either still a student at Harvard or around the time he dropped out (accounts of his graduation vary). Griffiths, and his relationship with Harvard, is a bit more difficult to pin down.

Searching through back issues of the Advocate, there is no mention of a George Griffiths. There is a C. C. Griffiths, listed in the indicia around the time of Vanderbilt’s election as being the magazine’s business manager, but unless the “C. C.” was a nick-name of sorts, there does not appear to be any connection between a Griffiths, Vanderbilt and the Advocate. In fact, further research could only uncover a single George Griffiths who had any relation to Harvard, but he graduated in 1895.

While it is possible that an alumnus returned to give a helping hand to one magazine while laying the foundation for another, a very simple, and very speculative answer may be closer to the actual facts. It is entirely possible that the reporter for the Post misspelled “Griffith” as “Griffiths.” Although a search of the Advocate shows no mention of any Griffith (without the “s”), there is a George C. Griffith, class of 1900, who served as Business Manager for the Illustrated for the first year of its existance—and what better way to keep an eye on your creation than to control the purse strings? Even this misspelling theory fails to connect any one person to the two magazines (much less to Vanderbilt), but, as with many questions that arise when dealing with England, the answers may never be known.

What we do know about the Illustrated, is that is was a student run publication. The magazine was available by subscription, single copies were twenty-five cents and each issue carried outside advertising. The cover of the first issue proclaims “Published during the College year by Students of Harvard University.” (this phrase was changed with the first issue of 1901 and “Students” became “Undergradutes”). The indicia found inside supports this statement and lists a number of officers, including a president, managing editor, board of editors, business managers and (oddly) graduate advisers, who do not appear to be faculty members. There is no record in any of the indicia available connecting the magazine to any single department or school on the Harvard campus; again supporting the idea of a student run publication. Copyright of the contents seems to have been assumed in the early issues and a formal copyright notice does not appear until 1903, when the materials are “Copyright 1903 The Harvard Illustrated Magazine” with the additional proviso “This copyright includes illustrations as well as literary material.”

Other than these facts, what little is known about the Illustrated is found in a rather pretentious editorial statement that, uncredited, graced the first page of the first issue:


TO-DAY the HARVARD ILLUSTRATED MAGAZINE bows its greeting to the academic world of letters. It comes a stranger at a time when college communities are by no means unprolific of periodicals. If, however, the opportuneness of its advent should be questioned, the simple word that it comes to make the Harvard of to-day richer in interests for the men who live here, and the Harvard of long ago more humanly real and living,—can hardly fail in causing the college audience to welcome the newcomer, and perhaps to hail it as indeed no stranger.

Men may live at Harvard and may go forth from Harvard as scholars or as men of the world; but can it be said that they have made the most of their precious opportunity, that they have acquired that which is most of all worth while, unless they have become imbued with the traditions of the college, with that large-minded culture, which make the Harvard gentleman? Books and laboratories may give a college man “light”; but it is the intimate knowledge of those things which have made Harvard what it is, that makes for “sweetness.” Men have lived here in the past, who have felt very potently the moving of that Harvard spirit which at one time gave a scholarly ministry to the Puritan Theocracy; at another, a resolute and wise body of statesmen to the Colonies; at another, a valiant and loyal company of gentlemen-at-arms to the Republic; and at all times, sweet and great souls to the world. We, who are here now, are here, ultimately, to feel the same spirit. We are here to know about the little things, which that time-honored society of Harvard gentlemen have known and cared about.

To this end, then, in as great a degree as possible, the HARVARD ILLUSTRATED MAGAZINE will set forth some of the things about Harvard which are eminently worth knowing. It will try to perpetuate by means of fiction, historical accounts, and illustrations, the memories of student life and the traditions of the University.

From these beginnings, The Harvard Illustrated Magazine showed that it was very much a Harvard-centric publication. Articles concern the history of the university, features on buildings and monuments found on the campus and the involvement of the student body in various and sundry activities around the campus and even in other parts of the country fill the pages. What sets the Illustrated apart from other publications, however, is the use of photographs, not illustrations, to enhance much of the content. People, places and even documents are reproduced, giving a sense of “being there” to the reader with illustrations used sparingly, unlike many of the newsstand magazines of the time. The fiction, whether prose or poetry, is nearly all of a similar bent and reflects what it may have been like to be a student, or graduate, of Harvard at the turn of the century.

England’s involvement with The Harvard Illustrated Magazine began with the publication of two of his poems in the inaugural issue. Another poem followed in the second issue and England became a member of the Board of Editors beginning with the third issue: a position he maintained until his graduation in 1903. He also was a semi-regular contributor of both prose and poetry to the magazine throughout his college tenure and even had a number of pieces appear in the years following his graduation (see “Bbliography” below). Of these works, most are concerned with the college experience: the prose pieces definitely place the reader in the shoes of a student on campus, while the poetry is divided between strictly academic exercises and pieces reflective of the thoughts of young men of a college age.

Eventually, the Illustrated increased its frequency to bi-weekly (most likely at some point in the early teens). In 1916, the magazine incorporated and the publisher became “The Harvard Illustrated Incorporated,” with the copyright to its content assigned to the same entity. According to scattered references here and there, the Illustrated had a rather extensive (and modern, for the time) photographic facility that it had developed over the years. This eventually led to the magazine being purchased in 1919 by The Harvard Crimson, one of several student run newspapers that originated on the Harvard campus. The sale was announced, not with a major editorial, but in a small boxed item that appeared near the end of the final issue:


With this number the Illustrated closes its career as a separate publication in the University after twenty years as a pictorial record of college life and activities. The invitation of the Crimson to effect a merger of the two papers has been accepted after mature consideration upon the part of graduate and undergraduate editors of both editorial boards. Beginning with the opening of the next college year a bi-weekly pictorial section probably in rotogravure will be published by the new photographic department of the Crimson, composed of all active members of the present Illustrated Board. We are uniting with the Crimson in the belief that in so doing we shall form together a more perfect paper, which will be of more vivid interest to the public and of greater service to the University.

Below, is as complete a bibliography of England’s work in The Harvard Illustrated Magazine as we have been able to assemble, with annotations. Most all poems, stories and articles that appeared in the magazine were credited at the end of each piece with the author’s name or initials and also in the table of contents of each issue, which appeared on the cover of the magazine for an unknown time beginning with the first issue of 1901 (prior to that, the stock cover image pictured above was used, with only the volume, issue number and date changing from issue to issue.). We have only indicated where credits were absent.

George Allan England in The Harvard Illustrated Magazine
October, 1899 Vol. I No. 1
Two Poems: “The Immortal” and “My Little Red Devil and I”
November, 1899 Vol. I No. 2
Poem: “When Doris Deigns”
December, 1899 Vol. I No. 3
Poem: “An Ode,” England’s translation of the poem “Ode” by Pierre de Rosnard into English. England’s version includes the following after the title, “(Done into English verse out of the Old French of Rosnard).” and then a quote from Robert Herrick, “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may”. “An Ode” is preceded by Rosnard’s original French version.
Note that with this issue that England’s name appears as a member of the Board of Editors.
March, 1900 Vol. I No. 6
Story: “A Story Without a Girl”
June, 1900 Vol. I No. 9
Poem: “The College Pump”
November, 1900 Vol. II No. 2
Poem: “Rain in Autumn”. Uncredited in the magazine, but credited to England in the Table of Contents.
February, 1901 Vol. II No. 5
Two Poems: “Villanelle” and “Errinnerungen” (written in German - Title means “Memoirs”)
March, 1901 Vol. II No. 6
Poem: “Rondel,” England’s tranlation of the French poem of the same name by Charles d’Orleans. England’s version includes “Done out of the Old French of Charles d’Orleans into the Englische Tongue.” below the title. The translation is preceded by the original French version.
June 1901 Vol. II No. 9
Poem: “Ricordatevi Di Me” (Italian for “Remember Me”). This piece, judging by the “Terza Rima” (Italian for “Third Rhyme”) sub-heading, seems to have been written in an Italian metre made famous by Dante. Poem is in English.
October 1901 Vol. III No. 1
Story: “The Downfall of Reginald Pym.” Poem: “Sonnet à Helène” (“Sonnet to Helena”), England’s translation of the French poem of the same name by Pierre de Ronsard. The translation is preceded by the original French version.
November 1901 Vol. III No. 2
This issue presents four short pieces in a section titled “Illustrations”. The first item, a poem, “The Philosopher,” is credited to England at it’s conclusion. An untitled vignette follows that is credited simply to “E., ’02,” leading me to believe that it might be by England due to the initial and the “ ’02.,” which was England’s date of graduation at the time of publication. A second vignette, “A Bit of Past History,” follows and is credited simply to “ ’02.,” but is written in a heavy dialect: a stylistic trait that England used in his later years. The last item in the section, a poem, is credited to someone other than England. The Table of Contents to the bound edition of Vol. III gives no credit to the “Illustrations” section.
December 1901 Vol. III No. 3
Poem: “Morning, Noon and Night” which includes the dedication“To M——” below the title.
January 1902 Vol. III No. 4
Poem: “Elegy on the Death of a Pet Sparrow” with the heading above the title “C. Valerius Catullus,” implying that the poem is translated from the works of the Roman poet Caius Valerius Catullus.
February 1902 Vol. III No. 5
A Play: “Two-Fifty an Hour—A Tragedy on One Act”. Poem: “Cui Bono?” (Latin for “to whose benefit?”)
March 1902 Vol. III No. 6
Poem: “St. John”
April 1902 Vol. III No. 7
Poem: “The Battle Royal”
May 1902 Vol. III No. 8
“Astronomy for Two (Rondel)”
June 1902 Vol. III No. 9
Poem: “The Eighth Ode of the Fourth Book of Horace” with the dedication, “To C. Martius Censorius” Donarem pateres grataque commodus.” (Latin for “The March Censor” We will open with proper gratitude.)
October, 1902 Vol. IV No. 1
Story: “The Divided Letter". Poem: "Neglect”
November, 1902 Vol. IV No. 2
Article: “Sciurus Carolinensis, Esq”
A humorous article on the squirrels that inhabit the Harvard campus.
December, 1902 Vol. IV No. 3
Two Poems: “The Song of the Poor” and “Envoi.” (French for "Sending")
February, 1903 Vol. IV No. 5
Article: “Bench Carvings at Harvard (Translated into Victorian English by George Allan England)”
A humorous article, which could be categorized as early attempt at science fiction.
April, 1903 Vol. IV No. 7
Poem: “O Tempora, O Mores” (Latin for “Oh the times, Oh the customs” a phrase attributed to the Roman poet Cicero.)
June, 1903 Vol. IV No. 9
Story: “Reginald Pym’s Class Day”
England graduated with his Master’s degree in 1903 and this would have been the final story published while he was still enrolled at Harvard.
November, 1903 Vol. V No. 2
Poem: “November in Cambridge”
April, 1904 Vol. V No. 7
Poem: “Evening. A Sonnet”
This poem has not been confirmed as published, but the title appears on the cover of the issue in the table of contents with England’s name as the author.
November, 1904 Vol. VI No. 2
This issue contains a review of Underneath the Bough: A Book of Verses in the “Book Reviews” section
March, 1905 Vol. VI No. 6
Poem: “España”
This poem is of particualar interest, as it appears nearly two years after England’s graduation from Harvard. There is no explanation in the issue to explain its inclusion.

Stories from The Harvard Illustrated Magazine (listed in publication order)

A Story Without a Girl
First published in the March, 1900 issue of The Harvard Illustrated Magazine. Illustrated.
The Downfall of Reginald Pym
First published in the October, 1901 issue of The Harvard Illustrated Magazine. Illustrated.
Illustrations: Three Short Works
First published in the November, 1901 issue of The Harvard Illustrated Magazine. Illustrated.
Two-Fifty An Hour - A Tragedy in One Act
First published in the February, 1902 issue of The Harvard Illustrated Magazine. Illustrated.
The Divided Letter
First published in the October, 1902 issue of The Harvard Illustrated Magazine. Illustrated.
Sciurus Carolinensis, Esq.
First published in the November, 1902 issue of The Harvard Illustrated Magazine. Illustrated.
Bench Carvings at Harvard
First published in the February, 1903 issue of The Harvard Illustrated Magazine. Illustrated.
Reginald Pym’s Class Day.
First published in the June, 1903 issue of The Harvard Illustrated Magazine.

Underneath the Bough: A Book of Verses

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Cover to Underneath the Bough by George Allan England
Underneath the Bough:
A Book of Verses

by George Allan England

While authors generally expound at length about their struggle to see their work in print, such is not the case with England’s Underneath the Bough: A Book of Verses, his first published book. England rarely mentioned the book directly, relegating most any other mentions of the the work to his full bibliography. Similarly, the book is rarely mentioned in outside sources except in a bibliographical context and it does not seem to have been widely reviewed . What we do know about the book, then, exists solely from an examination of a digital copy of the work itself and what few references we have been able to uncover.

Underneath the Bough was a collection of fifty-six poems, sixteen of which originally appeared in The Harvard Illustrated Magazine. The copyright page assigns ownership of the work to George Allan England and gives a date of 1903. The July 20, 1904 issue of The New York Daily Tribune contains an announcement about Underneath the Bough and states that the book is “just published.” The earliest review found appeared in the August 10, 1904 issue of The New York Sun and two subsquent reviews—one in The San Francisco Sunday Call and the other in The Harvard Illustrated Magazine—both appeared in November of 1904. Taken together, all of these references, along with the comments within them, would make it fairly safe to assume that Underneath the Bough was released in the late spring/early summer of 1904, just before England left New York for Maine due to his health problems, the copyright date of 1903 nonwithstanding.

The dedication page adds nothing specific to the creation of the collection, but does give a tiny bit of biographical information, since it reads:

This little book is offered to
its inspirer, in this the tenth year
of her reign.

The Agnes mentioned is England’s first wife, Meda Agnes Coffin, whom he married in 1903. What is most interesting about this inscription is that it implies that England and Agnes had been together for ten years at the time the book was published. Taking into account the five years England was at Harvard, and assuming that he met Agnes while in Boston, this could place him in the area in his early teens, just prior to the time he entered Boston English High School.

The title page states that Underneath the Bough is published by “The Grafton Press New York,” a bit of information that gives a small clue as to how the book may have come about. Information about The Grafton Press is very sparse: so sparse that the only background on the company we could locate was found in a 1904 book entitled, Concerning Genealogies, published by The Grafton Press and containing this company information early on in the volume:

at No. 70 Fifth Avenue, New York, was established in 1900 by its present secretary, who had been for nearly ten years in the manufacturing department of Messrs. D. Appleton & Company. Since its organization The Grafton Press has developed largely, and has a reputation for straightforwardness in dealing with its customers, and for producing excellent examples of the book-maker’s art. Its work is always of the best, and special attention is given to the difficult and important features of genealogical and biographical volumes, whether they are to be sold through the book trade or distributed privately.

The organization of The Grafton Press is as follows:

President, Franklyn Paddock
Secretary and Treasurer, Frederick H. Hitchcock
Assistant Treasurer, E. H. Hitchcock
Advertising and Manufacturing, Charles P. Fry
Genealogical and Biographical, Frank Allaben

The key phrase in this description is “distributed privately.” Other scattered references to the publisher, or listings of books published, show that The Grafton Press was a publisher for hire or what we would call today a “vanity press.” In other words, England paid to have the book published. In all the digital copies of Underneath the Bough consulted, the second page of the book has the following, printed information:

Printed for subscribers only
This copy is

The implication of this inscription is that England searched out subscribers to upfront the cost of publishing the book: a sort of early version of today’s “Kickstarter” campaigns (one copy of the book digitized from the New York Public Library, is signed by England with the number line filled in with the number “54.”). While there is a certain air of romance to this idea, England paid for all, or nearly all of the costs of printing the book out of pocket, as he revealed in the introduction to his 1913 Fiction Factory article:

Oh, one more point: Publisht Underneath the Bough, a book of verses, in 1902[sic], and lost only about $260 on it, A real triumph.

There does not appear to be any record of how many copies of the book were printed and it sold for the cost of $1 (US) per copy.

The final, and most puzzling, portion of Underneath the Bough is the acknowledgements page, which is found just after the title page. It reads:

I desire to express my sincere thanks to Dr. Titus Munson Coan, Mr. Justo Quintéro and Mr. A. B. Myrick for assistance rendered, and to acknowledge the kind permission to reprint certain of these verses given me by The Literary Digest, Harvard Illustrated Magazine, Vogue, Middletown Forum, Red Letter, Literary Review, Boston Transcript, Town Topics, Smart Set, The New York Herald and other periodicals. G. A. E.

The three people mentioned in this short paragraph probably had some connection to England. The most tenuous of these is Dr. Titus Munson Coan, a medical doctor who became an author and editor later in life. Coan offered his editing services through a small literary agency and the possibility exists that he either assisted England with preparation of the book or may have acted as an agent in placing England’s poetry in various publications. Mr. Justo Quintéro and Mr. A. B. Myrick may both have been classmates of England’s at Harvard (both attended the university while England was a student) and there is some slim evidence suggesting Myrick was attached to the Harvard faculty in some fashion.

The magazine references are a bit more problematic and only a few are easily explained. While The Harvard Illustrated Magazine appearances were covered above, one has to wonder why England would need permission to reprint his own work. The contents of each issue of the Illustrated contained a formal copyright notice beginning in 1903 and copyright does imply ownership, yet we haven't come across any references that would suggest that the Illustrated paid for (hence owned) the content it printed. The mention of Smart Set can be confirmed in The Contento indexes, where a poem, “Ricordatevi Di Me!”, is listed as appearing in Smart Set in the April, 1904 issue—around the time that Underneath the Bough was in prepartion—and this acknowledgement seems fairly straightforward. The nod to “The New York Herald” is explained in a footnote to the first poem in the collection, “the Race of the Mighty,” thusly:

From Gaëtan de Méaulne’s “Course des Grands Masqués.” Here reprinted by courtesy of the New York “Herald.” To this translation was awarded the Herald’s First Prize of 500 francs.

Of the others publications mentioned, no record seems to exist that would explain England’s needing to thank them for their permissions (especially intriguing is the phrase “other periodicals”). That any publications outside of the Illustrated are mentioned would suggest that England may have been publishing his work outside of Harvard while still a student at the university and there is at least one example that would seem to confirm this. In The Boston Evening Transcript for March 9, 1901, England’s poem, “Kyrielle,” appears with his name appearing at the end of the poem. This single example, combined with the other acknowledgements, would suggest that there were other works published and would represent a portion of England’s writing career that he never mentioned.

With all these facts and veiled references in hand, one underlying question still remains: why did England publish Underneath the Bough? After all, he did not think highly enough of the volume to mention it frequently, if at all—almost as if he felt the collection was not worth discussing. Sadly, at this late date, it is doubtful that the question can ever be answered, as all of the principals are long deceased. One can run through an wide gamut of speculations, but the most probable answer to the “why?” is that England produced the book as a sort of coda to his college years—a farewell to the writing of poetry and thinking of deep thoughts that is often a part of academic life. A new marriage and career were at hand, but within a year of the book’s publication, he would have turned to writing as his full time occupation.

Underneath the Bough: A Book of Verses - Table of Contents

  • PAGE
  • I. The Race of the Mighty1
  • II. Songs & Sonnets.
  • Love Beatified9
  • Morning, Noon and Night10
  • Dante11
  • Love’s Blindness12
  • Hesperides13
  • My Garden18
  • Erinncrungcn19
  • The Battle Royal20
  • Espafia21
  • Lovers’s Fear22
  • Longings23
  • Horace, IV, 824
  • Ricordatevi Di Me!26
  • The Tower28
  • Love’s Prayer30
  • Combien J’ai Douce Souvenance31
  • My Little Red Devil and I33
  • The College Pump37
  • I Disputanti38
  • Quand Vous Serez Bien Vieille39
  • One Summer Night40
  • A Une Fleurette42
  • Blest Be the Day43
  • Mignonne Allons Voir Si La Rose44
  • Religion45
  • The Great Woods Were Awakening46
  • I-N-R-I47
  • Fayre Robyn48
  • Coeur de Femme51
  • III. Ballades & Rondeaux
  • Ballade of the Sick54
  • Three Rondeaux from Charles d’Orléans56
  • The Song of the Poor59
  • Kyrielle62
  • Rondeau64
  • When I First Saw Edmée65
  • My Old Coat66
  • A Pantoum68
  • When Doris Deigns70
  • IV. The Year
  • Spring—May Evening72
  • Summer—August Rain73
  • Autumn—November in Cambridge74
  • Winter—Hampton Holidays75
  • V. Mors Omnium Victor
  • Gunga Din in Hell78
  • Cui Bono?79
  • The Bride-Bed80
  • Dead Loves81
  • Death the Friend82
  • La Jeune Fille83
  • Lucie84
  • Luctus in Morte Passeris89
  • Death in December90
  • The Royal Council92
  • Carmen Mortis93

Underneath the Bough: A Book of Verses - Reviews

The following is one of the few book reviews we could locate for Underneath the Bough and appeared in the November, 1904 (Vol. VI No. 2) issue of The Harvard Illustrated Magazine in the “Book Reviews” section. The author of the review, W. B. Flint, appears to be Weston Brown Flint, a classmate of England’s. Flint contributed several articles and prose pieces to the Illustrated between 1902 and 1903. He was also a member of the Board of Editors and listed as Managing Editor in 1903.

We have printed the review as it originally appeared, including punctuation, but have taken some small liberties with the layout.

In a trim little book, of ninety-six pages, printed this year, the verses of a young poet are modestly presented. George Allan England, author of “Underneath The Bough,”* is a Harvard graduate, of the class of 1902, with the degree of Master of Arts in 1903. He was for four years an editor of this magazine and, almost from its founding, contributed to its pages many of the verses which, now published in a book, *Underneath the Bough. A Book of Verses.
By George Allan England.
The Grafton Press, New York.
offer so interesting a study in literary endeavor. Indeed, of the fifty-six verses in the book, sixteen are familiar to readers of the ILLUSTRATED; yet even to them, this collection will recall many a pleasant line.

The division of the contents is clear, under five headings, “The Race of the Mighty,” “Songs and Sonnets,” “Ballades and Rondeaux,” “The Year,” “Mors Omnium Victor,” and, with much more care than is expected, the arrangement is complete, each section a collection by itself. “The Race of the Mighty,” a prize translation of a French automobile rhyme, has no place on any page of serious writing; it is a clever whirlwind of words, and no more; the tone it sends back to the Ballades and Sonnets and Songs is that of an automobile horn in a symphony.

A more variable poetic expression, not in verse-form but in linguistics, would be difficult to find, in so small a selection of poems. Here are translations from French, Spanish, Italian and Latin and old English bards and minstrels; original lines written in German, Italian and French; so that the book is in large part a tribute of great care to some of the author’s “masters,” who have led him [to] almost rhythmical perfection in the use of his ready poetic pen. The result to the book is a cosmopolitanism which suggests nothing of the narrowness that might be implied to verses written, almost all of them, before the writer was done with college.

In verse-form the sonnet prevails, the favorite on thirty-one pages; another mark of the authority of the past, when the sonnet was a more fitting medium of expression than it can ever be again in these novelty-seeking days. With Rondeaux from the French and a few Ballades and Songs done in a sturdy English, this book of verses, “Underneath the Bough,” makes worthy pretentions to proficiency in the practice of poetic expression, although the things expressed many a time fail to convict of sincerity.

The best section of the book, in sustained poetic value, is “The Year” with its four sonnets. The translations of Béranger, “The Song of the Poor,” and of Catullus, “Luctus in Morte Passeris,” are admirable, in appreciation of the original and in faithful verse. In “November in Cambridge,” the last line “And bare, black branches fret the leaden sky,” seems to picture with uncommon skill, the gloom of autumn. In melody, “Soft-murmuring through the sedge and fenny reeds,” is surely pleasing.

Sometimes there are suggestions of our English poets; of John Donne in “I cannot think that women love as we,” of Keats in “Hesperides,” of Poe in “Carmen Mortis,” but these are slight for the spell of French decadence is more strong. It is Baudelaire and Rollinat that shape the poet's fancy much too often. Chateaubriand, Rousard and de Musset, cleverly seductive in their skill, are matched against a bit of Petrarch or of Horace's Bacchic philosophy. Once there is a fresh breath from old England, in “Fayre Robyn” completed from a north country ballad; for the rest there is a succession of love-poems, passionate, often sensuous, or songs of death, rarely in good taste, sometimes hideous in their decadent realism. Of these verses, pleasant and unpleasant, there is one that has an abnormal vocabulary of horror. “Gunga Din in Hell,” written for a picture. It is the most startling example of fantastic word-heaping in these pages, and it is unique. With it, “Carmen Mortis” should be ranked; an unbearably morbid exercise in verse-structure, whether intentionally or not leaving with the reader, as he closes the book, a feeling of having been dragged through a sewer and left to drip. There is only one lyric that appeals to the healthy interest in good-natured, simple, poetry. “My Little Red Devil and I” is the wittiest and most truly delightful thing in the book because it comes as a wholly unexpected “intermezzo” and brightens up the page near it, by its sensitive good humor.

The sort of poetry here illustrated is largely, unpleasantly emotional. There is no sadness, but musty gloom, borrowed from the French. The verse is excellent, the poetry not yet buoyant enough to be musical, not sombre enough to be more than morbid. “Gather life’s roses ere thy night be near,” the old hedonistic adage of Herrick, is twice translated from Rousard, and it follows through the book until the roses wither swiftly at the end in hideous death. As the book is closed, the lines that give most cheery promise, though they are not those the author would regard his best, are only the slyly cynical words to the “Little Red Devil,”

“And the idle verses I write in hope,
He quietly smiles to see,
For he knows full well, that at first or last,
Like Biblical bread on the waters cast,
They will surely come back to me.”
W. B. Flint.

And lastly, lest your author be thought to be ignorant of the obvious, the title Underneath the Bough: A Book of Verses is a rewording from what is probably the best known quatrain from a later Fitzgerald translation of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám, which reads,

“A Book of Verses underneath the Bough,
A Jug of Wine, a Loaf of Bread—and Thou
Beside me singing in the Wilderness—
Oh, Wilderness were Paradise enow!
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