James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916) was an American writer, poet, and best selling author, known as the "Hoosier Poet." Riley's poems tended to be humorous or sentimental, often in dialect. He is best known for "The Raggedy Man" and "Little Orphant Annie" -- the poem which inspired the comic character Little Orphan Annie. Volume 1 contains a biographical sketch of Riley and Volume 10 contains an index.
The majority of his poems speak of the natural and rural life, his experiences of childhood - the poem "The Old Swimmin' Hole" is a good example of this. Highly
This newspaperman / rhymer is only now being recognized as a Grandma Moses of early 20th Century American poetry. He was so prolific in his writings for newspapers and magazines in his time and so beloved in his home State of Indiana that there's hardly a Hoosier guest room that lacks the requisite handmade quilt on the bed and ten-volume hardbound set of James Whitcomb Riley in the bedside bookcase. He wrote much in dialect which doomed his work to temporary oblivion in the late 20th Century when refusing to draw attention to ethnic and economic differences failed to conceal either, Today the use of dialect in character depiction is once more becoming acceptable as we finally befriend, embrace, and accept diversity in the new century when such artists as Norman Rockwell are finally gaining their deserved respect.
Along with Riley's most famous poem, "Little Orphant Annie" are hundreds of other vivid depictions of people and events rhymed in a way to tug at the heart. Pessimists will probably not enjoy these books. Reading them is just too much fun. But if you're looking to find the good in the world, dipping into Riley's works won't be wasted time.