Woman of the Century/Elia Wilkinson Peattie
PEATTIE, Mrs. Elia Wilkinson, author and journalist, born in Kalamazoo, Mich., 15th January, 1862. Before she was ten years old, her father removed with his family to Chicago, Ill., where Mrs. Peattie grew to womanhood, was married, and spent most of her life. ELIA WILKINSON PEATTIE. Very little of her education was acquired in the usual way. As a child she attended the public schools, but her sensitive originality unfitted her to follow patiently (he slow progress of regular instruction. At the age of fourteen years she left school, never to return. Judged by all ordinary rules, that was a mistake. Whether her peculiar mind would have been better trained in the schools than by the process of self-culture to which she has subjected it can never be known. From childhood she had an intuitive perception of things far beyond her learning and years. She was always a student, not merely of what she found in the books, but of principles. Her tastes led her to read with eagerness upon the profoundest subjects, so that, before she was twenty, she was familiar with English and German philosophy as well as with that of the ancients, and had her own, doubtless crude, but positive, views upon the subject of which they treated. She has always been an earnest student of history, more especially of those phases of it that throw light upon social problems. She has read widely in fiction, having the rare gift of scanning a book and gleaning all that there is of value in it in an hour. Her marriage, in 1883, to Robert Burns Peattie, a journalist of Chicago, was most fortunate. Nothing could have prevented her entering upon her career as a writer, but a happy marriage, with one who sympathized with her ambitions and who was also able to give her much important assistance in the details of authorship, was to her a most important event. From that time she has been an indefatigable worker. She began by writing short stories for the newspapers. taking several prizes, before securing any regular employment. A Christmas story published in the Chicago "Tribune" in 1885 was referred to editorially by that journal as "one of the most remarkable stories of the season," and as "worthy to rank with the tales of the best-known authors of the day." Her first regular engagement was as a reporter on the Chicago "Tribune," where she worked side by side, night and day, with men. She afterwards held a similar position on the Chicago "Daily News." Since 1889, she has been in Omaha, and is now chief editorial writer on the "World-Herald." As a working journalist she has shown great versatility. Stories, historical sketches, literary criticisms, political editorials and dramatic reviews from her pen follow one another or appear side by side in the same edition of the paper. Although her regular work has been that of a journalist, she has accomplished more outside of such regular employment than most literary people who have no other occupation. She has teen a frequent Contributor to the leading magazines and literary journals of the country, including the "Century." "Lippincott's Magazine," "Cosmopolitan Magazine," "St. Nicholas," "Wide Awake," "The American," "America." "Harper's Weekly," San Francisco "Argonaut" and a score of lesser periodicals. In 1888 she was employed by Chicago publishers to write a young people's history of the United States. That she did under the title of "The Story of America." producing in four months a volume of over seven-hundred pages, in which the leading events of American history are woven together in a charming style and with dramatic skill and effect. One of the most remarkable things about that work is that she dictated the whole of it, keeping two stenographers busy in taking and writing out what she gave them. In 18S9 she wrote "The Judge," a novel, for which she received a nine-hundred-dollar prize from the Detroit "Free Press." That story- has since been published in book form. In the fall of 1889 she was employed by the Northern Pacific Railroad to go to Alaska and write up that country. That she did, traveling alone from Duluth to Alaska and back. As a result of that trip she wrote a widely-circulated guide-book, entitled "A Trip Through Wonderland." She has also published "With Scrip and Staff" (New York, 1891). a tale of the children's crusade. In addition to her literary work, Mrs. Peattie is a model housekeeper. She has three children.