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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Wilcox, Ella Wheeler

(1850-1919). American poet and journalist and member of the Theosophical Society (TS). She was born in Johnson Creek, in southeast Wisconsin, U.S. on November 5, 1850. She was the daughter of Marius Hartwell Wheeler, a violin teacher, and was educated at the University of Wisconsin. She began to show literary promise at an unusually early age, having written a novel by the time she was 10 and was soon writing poetry at the rate of two poems a day. By the time she was 18 her earnings from her writing were quite substantial.

Wilcox was a member of the TS Lodge in New Haven, Connecticut, which she joined October 14, 1913. She is quoted as saying, “To me, Christ was a very dear and beautiful figure, and when I became a Theosophist I saw that He was retained and made more real for religion” (The Theosophist, Oct. 1913, p. 10). In 1884 she married Robert Marius Wilcox, a silversmith, and they settled at Meriden in Connecticut.

She published nearly 40 volumes of poetry and other works. Wilcox is not considered a major poet, but her poetry enjoyed very great popularity during her lifetime and through it she was able to introduce to the public, in a painless fashion, many theosophical ideals. She had a contract with the Hearst newspapers, and frequently used the columns of those newspapers to spread theosophical ideas. It is interesting to note that Arthur Brisbane, who was editor for the Hearst Newspapers strongly opposed the mention of reincarnation, but Wilcox’s contract expressly gave her freedom to write what she wished without editorial restraint. After America entered World War I she spent three years in France, initially to comfort wounded American soldiers, but so great was her popularity and ability to bring solace that she extended her activities to the wounded of all nations. She died on October 30, 1919.

Her works include: Drops of Water (1872), Shells (1873), Maurine (1876), Poems of Passion (1883), The Story of a Literary Career (1905) and The Worlds and I (1918).

P.S.H.

 

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