One of James Whitcomb Riley's best known poems is "Little Orphant Annie." Annie, a girl who lived with Riley's family in Greenfield, Indiana when he was growing up inspired Riley. The poem was published in this book form in 1908. In 1924 Harold Gray used Riley’s idea to create a comic strip. Quickly popular, the character Annie has been in movies, a Broadway musical and numerous books. James Whitcomb Riley was born in Greenfield, Indiana on October 7, 1849. Inspired by a teacher to study literature, his childhood in small-town Indiana gave him a feel for the rhythm and character of rural speech. Beginning in 1877, Riley worked for the Indianapolis Journal, and he used his spare time to write poetry, some of which appeared in the newspaper. Riley became famous as "The Hoosier Poet" after he published his first book, "The Old Swimmin' Hole" and "Leven More Poems" in 1883 under the name "Benj. F. Johnson, of Boone." He traveled all over the world reading his poetry and speaking to groups of people. Riley was awarded many national honors for his work. On his sixty-second birthday in 1911, school children started an annual celebration, Riley Day Honors, which continues today as "Riley Days." "The Hoosier Poet," James Whitcomb Riley, died on July 22, 1916 and is still remembered through his work, Riley Days, and the Riley Hospital for Children.
The Children's Museum of Indianapolis
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Riley, James Whitcomb, 1849-1916
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