Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

Walter Malone

Mississippi & Tennessee


Walter Malone, Selected Poems
(Louisville, Kentucky: John P. Morton & Company, 1919)(edited by his sister, Ella Malone Watson)

Walter Malone's personal friend and literary confidante, Frazer Hood, wrote the following biographical sketch of Malone's life:

Walter Malone was born February 10, 1866, in De Soto County, Mississippi, about thirteen miles southeast of Memphis, Tennessee. He was the youngest of a family of twelve children. His father, Dr. Franklin Jefferson Malone, was a man of culture and prominence in Mississippi, serving his State as a member of the Mississippi Constitutional Convention of 1868. In earlier years he had seen service in the Mexican War as an army surgeon. He died in 1873. Thus deprived of a father's care at the age of seven years, Walter did not have those advantages which the older children enjoyed; but his mother, a woman of rare powers, made amends for the loss as only a woman can do. She managed to giver her younger children such education advantages as the local schools afforded. At the age of six years Walter was initiated into the mysteries of formal learning at an "old-field schoolhouse," which stood across the State line in Tennessee, three miles from his home. He continued his attendance here until he was sixteen, trudging the distance from his home every day except when work on the farm required his presence there. . . .

When twelve years old he made his first attempt to imprison his fancies and emotions in verse. Always a stern critic of his own work, he later destroyed all these boyish efforts. Between thirteen and fourteen he wrote several articles which were published in the Louisville Courier-Journal. Thus encouraged, he began, at fourteen, seriously to write, and continued with adolescent zeal until he was sixteen, when he published his first volume under the title, "Claribel and Other Poems." This was a book of three hundred pages and contained two long narrative poems and a number of shorter ones. While the poems are crude, revealing the touch of youth, they contain the promise and potency of awakening genius. It was the largest book of verse ever printed by a boy under twenty-one.

In the fall of 1883 he entered the preparatory department of the University of Mississippi, where in due course he became a freshman and graduated in the class of 1887. He was not a student after the old time professors' ideal. He never liked mathematics, and until his last two years was a rather indifferent student, giving more time to the library than to the formal work of the class-room. He became early associated with the college magazine, and during his last year was its editor-in-chief.

In 1885 he published his second volume, "The Outcast and Other Poems." Even a hurried reading will reveal that these poems are less juvenile and show a steadier power. This book brought forth favorable comment from Edmund Clarence Stedman and Oliver Wendell Holmes. John Greenleaf Whittier, writing to the author, said: "The book gives promise, but it is not what it would be were the author ten years older. Why, at thy age, I could not make a respectable rhyme."

After his graduation, Mr. Malone was admitted to the bar at Oxford, Mississippi, and shortly thereafter came to Memphis to engage in the practice of law. He launched himself with a strong initiative into the practice of law, and until 1891 his Muse was neglected. In the next year he published "Narcissus and Other Poems." Two years later came from the press "Songs of Dusk and Dawn." In 1896 followed "Songs of December and June," a little volume of twenty lyrics; and the next year "The Coming of the King," a collection of eight short stories. . . .

In 1897 he retired from the practice of law and moved to New York, where, for the next three years, he gave himself wholly to literary work. In 1900 he returned to Memphis and published "Songs of North and South," a collection of poems that had appeared in magazines during the previous three years. This volume introduced the author to British readers . . . . In 1904 he published a complete edition of such of his poems as he considered worthy of perpetuating. In 1906 appeared "Songs of Fast and West," a book containing twenty-seven poems, many of them being pictures of travel in Europe, California, Florida, Cuba, and Mexico. His most widely known poem, "Opportunity," was published in Munsey's Magazine in 1905.

. . . .

In 1905, on petition of practically all of the Memphis bar, Mr. Malone was appointed Judge of the Second Circuit Court of Shelby County, and later by election held the office until his death, May 18, 1915.

[Source: Frazer Hood, " Walter Malone—His Life and Works," in Walter Malone, Selected Poems xiii-xvii (Louisville, Kentucky: John P. Morton & Company, 1919)(Ella Malone Watson ed.)]

Walter Malone
A Biographical Profile with Commentary on His Poetry


[October in Tennessee] [He Who Hath Loved] [Florida Nocturne] [Opportunity]


Walter Malone, Claribel and Other Poems (Louisville: J.P. Morton, 1882)

___________, The Outcast, and Other Poems (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Printed at the Riverside Press, 1886)

___________, Narcissus, and Other Poems (Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott Company, 1893)(1892) [online text]

___________, Songs of Dusk and Dawn (Buffalo: Charles Well Moulton, 1895) [online text]

___________, Songs of December and June (Philadelphia: Printed by J. B. Lippincott Company, 1896)

___________, Songs of North and South (Louisville: J. P. Morton & Company, 1900)

___________, Poems (Memphis: Paul & Douglass Co., 1904) [online text]

___________, Songs of East and West (Louisville: John P. Morton, 1906) [online text]

___________, Hernando De Soto (New York: G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1914) [online text]

___________, Selected Poems (Louisville: John P. Morton, 1919)(Ella Malone Watson ed.)

___________, Opportunity and Other Poems (New York: Vantage Press, 1974)


Walter Malone, The Coming of the King (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1897)(collection of short stories)

Bibliography: Articles

Stephanie DeClue, Poetic Justice: The Life and Works of Walter Malone, 53 West Tennessee Historical Society Papers 49-60 (1999)

Frazer Hood, Walter Malone: His Life and Works, Methodist Review (July-September, 1916)(appears in Walter Malone, Selected Poems xiii-xxvi (Louisville, Kentucky: John P. Morton & Company, 1919)(Ella Malone Watson ed.)(Watson was Malone's sister)


Walter Malone Papers
Mississippi Valley Collection, McWherter Library
University of Memphis
Memphis, Tennessee

Research Resources

Typical Poets and Poetry of the Final Years-1890-1900
Edmund Clarence Stedman (ed.), An American Anthology,
(Boston: Houghton, Mifflin, 1900)