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Famous Writers With A Staten Island Connection


Lighthouse Hill, Richmondtown, Staten Island, N.Y., Digital ID 104874, New York Public LibraryThomas Matteo, the Staten Island Borough Historian, wrote a nice article in the Sunday, January 16, 2011 Staten Island Advance titled "Their Pens Were Mighty Indeed," about famous writers who have a Staten Island connection. While I was aware that Washington Irving, Emily Post, Amy Vanderbilt, Edgar Allan Poe and Herman Melville all had some link to Staten Island, the one I was not aware of was Edwin Arlington Robinson, writer of the poems  "Richard Cory," "Minver Cheevy" and many more. He lived on Staten Island in 1913 in the Lighthouse Hill section (picture of the lighthouse, which is still standing at Lighthouse Hill, to the left). It must have been deeply rural at the time, as it still has very much a countryside atmosphere.

Unfortunately the story is not yet listed on the Staten Island Advance website. St. George Library Center does have the paper copy of the paper and will eventually be getting it on microfilm. So it should be here if you want to read the whole story. Some excerpts:

Thoreau reportedly wrote, "The whole Island is like a garden, and affords fine scenery." George Curtis said, "God might have made a more beautiful spot than Staten Island, but never did!"

It is no wonder, then, that Staten Island has inspired many accomplished writers...

Edwin Arlington Robinson was born in Head Tide, Maine, on Dec. 22, 1869 and moved to Gardiner, Maine, a year later. Gardiner would later be renamed Tilbury Town and become the backdrop for many of his poems.

He attended Harvard University from 1891-1893 and published his first poem in the Harvard Advocate.

He was unsuccessful in making enough money to support himself writing and depended on help from friends. In 1911, he began spending the winters at homes of his friends in New York and summers in MacDowell Colony in Petersborough, N.H.

He also lived on Lighthouse Hill around 1913. Robinson continued to struggle in obscurity until Theodore Roosevelt wrote a magazine article praising his work. Robinson went on to win three Pulitzer Prizes for his work. They were "Tristram" (1928), "Collected Poems" (1922) and "The Man Who Died Twice" (1925).

Other writings by Edwin Arlington Robinson, including a few that are about him, can be found in the catalog.


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Autobiography of an American Orphan

I published this book in 2009, it entails my life and times inside the orphanage of Mount Loretto on Staten Island during the 1950's, as well as views of Manhattan's pre - civil rights era in Spanish Harlem and Brooklyn's Williamsburg district of the same era. I followed this book up with a collection of poems which were snapshots of my life experiences after leaving the orphanage. The latter book was published in 2014. My autobiography may be found with reviews on and Barnes& ebook...nook version on Barnes&Noble gives a free look at a couple of the poems for free.\walterjames

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