Willis Gaylord Clark

George and Evert Duyckinck, in Cyclopedia of American Literature (1856; 1875) 2:400.


The twin brothers Clark were born at Otisco, Onondaga county, New York, in the year 1810. Their father had served in the Revolutionary war, and was a man of reading and observation. Willis, on the completion of his education, under the care of this parent and the Rev. George Colton, a relative on his mother's side, went to Philadelphia, where he commenced a weekly periodical similar in plan to the New York Mirror. It was unsuccessful and soon discontinued. He next became an assistant of the Rev. Dr. Brantley, a Baptist clergyman (afterwards President of the College of South Carolina), in the editorship of the Columbian Star, a religious newspaper. He retired from this position to take charge of the Philadelphia Gazette, the oldest daily journal of that city. He became its proprietor, and continued his connexion with it until his death.

One of the most successful of Clark's literary productions was the Ollapodiana, a series of brief essays, anecdotes, and observations, continued from month to month in the Knickerbocker Magazine, of which his brother Lewis had become the editor.

Mr. Clark was married in 1836 to Anne P. Caldcleugh, the daughter of a gentleman of Philadelphia. She was attacked by consumption, and died not long after her marriage. Her husband soon followed her, falling a victim to a lingering disease in June, 1841.

Clark's poems, with the exception of The Spirit of Life — pronounced before the Franklin Society of Brown University in 1833 — are brief, and were written for and published in his own journals and the magazines and annuals of the day. A portion were collected in a volume during his lifetime, and a complete edition appeared in New York in 1847. His Ollapodiana have also been collected, with a number of other prose sketches and his poems, in a volume of his Literary Remains, published in 1844.

The humors and sensibility of the essayist and poet, alike witness to his warm, amiable sympathies. His mirth was rollicking, exuberant in animal spirits, but always innocent, while his muse dwelt fondly on the various moods of nature, and portrayed domestic tenderness in the consolations of its darker hours of suffering and death.

Mr. LEWIS GAYLORD CLARK is the editor of the Knickerbocker Magazine, having conducted that periodical since its third volume in 1832. He has become widely known by his monthly Editor's Table and Gossip with Readers and Correspondents, embracing a collection of the jests and "on dits" of the day, connected by a light running comment. A selection from the Gossip was published in one volume in 1852, with the title, Knick-Knacks from an Editors Table, and a compliment was paid to its author, in 1855, in the shape of a volume containing original contributions, by many of the leading writers of the day, accompanied by their portraits, entitled The Knickerbocker Memorial. He died at Piermont, on the Hudson, November 3, 1873.