Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Ella Wheeler Wilcox (November 5, 1850–October 30, 1919) was an American author and poet. Her best-known work was Poems of Passion, and her autobiography, The Worlds and I was published in 1918 shortly before her death.

A popular rather than a literary poet, her poems express sentiments of cheer and optimism in plainly written, rhyming verse. Her world view is expressed in the title of her poem “Whatever Is—Is Best” (suggesting an echo of Pope’s “Whatever is, is right.”). None of her work was included by F. O. Matthiesen in The Oxford Book of American Verse, but Hazel Felleman chose no less than thirteen of her poems for Best Loved Poems of the American People, while Martin Gardner selected “Solitude” and “The Winds of Fate” for Best Remembered Poems.

She is frequently cited in parody collections (Pegasus Descending, others). Sinclair Lewis indicates Babbitt’s lack of literary sophistication by having refer to a piece of verse as “one of the classic poems, like ‘If’ by Kipling, or Ella Wheeler Wilcox’s ‘The Man Worth While'”.

Poems by Ella Wheeler Wilcox