James Whitcomb Riley

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James Whitcomb Riley (October 7, 1849 - July 22, 1916). Born in Greenfield, Indiana, Riley was an American writer and poet. Known as the "Hoosier Poet" and the "Children's Poet," he started his career in 1875 writing newspaper verse in Indiana dialect for the Indianapolis Journal. His verse tended to be humorous or sentimental, and of the approximately one-thousand poems that Riley published, over half are in dialect. Claiming that “simple sentiments that come from the heart” were the secret of his success, Riley satisfied the public with down-to-earth verse that was "heart high." Although Riley was a bestselling author in the early 1900s and earned a steady income from royalties, he also traveled and gave public readings of his poetry. His favorite authors were Robert Burns and Charles Dickens, and Riley himself befriended bestselling Indiana authors such as Booth Tarkington, George Ade and Meredith Nicholson. Many of his works were illustrated by the popular illustrator Howard Chandler Christy.