Aline Murray Kilmer

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Aline Murray Kilmer (August 1, 1888 – October 1, 1941), was an American poet, children's book author, and essayist, and the wife and widow of poet and journalist Joyce Kilmer (1886-1918). The couple attended Rutgers College Preparatory School and married shortly after his graduation from Columbia University in 1908.

In their short marriage, lasting 10 years, her husband had achieved fame as a poet, literary critic and among Catholic circles as America's most prominent Catholic writer. After his death in World War I, she began publishing her own poetry and a few children's books. Today, her work is largely forgotten.


The gravestone of Aline Kilmer, located in Saint Joseph's Cemetery in Newton, New Jersey

She was born as Aline Murray on August 1, 1888 in Norfolk, Virginia, the daughter of Ada Foster Murray, a poet; and Kenton C. Murray, editor of the Norfolk Landmark newspaper. Ada Foster Murray remarried on February 22, 1900, in Metuchen, New Jersey to Henry Mills Alden. Henry was the managing editor of Harper's Magazine, and he became Aline's stepfather.[1]

Aline was educated at the Rutgers College Grammar School (now Rutgers Preparatory School) in New Brunswick, New Jersey and the Vail-Deane School in Elizabeth, New Jersey the latter institution from which she was graduated in 1908.[2]

Shortly after graduation, Aline married Alfred Joyce Kilmer on June 9, 1908, after he was graduated from Columbia University in New York City. The pair had five children: Kenton Sinclair Kilmer (1909-1995), Rose Kilburn Kilmer (1912-1917), Deborah Clanton Kilmer (1914-1999), Michael Barry Kilmer (1916-1927), and Christopher Kilmer (1917-1984).[3]

Their daughter Rose was stricken with an infantile paralysis shortly after her birth, a crisis which led Joyce and Aline to convert to Roman Catholicism.[4] Shortly before Joyce's deployment to France in World War I, Rose died. During his deployment, her husband was killed in action during the Second Battle of the Marne near Muercy Farm, beside the Ourcq River near the village of Seringes-et-Nesles, in France, on 30 July 1918 at the age of 31.[5] Several years later, her second son, Michael, predeceased her.[4]

After Joyce's death in Battle, Kilmer turned to publishing her poetry and to authoring children's books. Aline's poetry is described as "subtle, delicate, and somewhat subdued—certainly far from gayety" and with a tone of "ironic disillusionment" compared to her husband's as "direct, vigorous, gay."[4]


In her final three years, Aline suffered from an excruciating illness.[4] Aline Kilmer died at her home, "Whitehall", in Stillwater Township, New Jersey, on October 1, 1941, aged 52, and was interred at Saint Joseph's Catholic Cemetery in Newton, New Jersey.[4]

Five lines from her poem, "Sanctuary", are inscribed on her gravestone:

There all bright passing beauty is held forever
Free from the sense of tears, to be loved without regret
There we shall find at their source music and love and laughter,
Colour and subtle fragrance and soft incredible textures:
Be sure we shall find what our weary hearts desire.[6][7]


  • 1919: Candles That Burn (poetry)
  • 1921: Vigils (poetry)
  • 1923: Hunting a Hair Shirt and Other Spiritual Adventures (essays) ISBN 0-8369-2697-8
  • 1925: The Poor Kings Daughter and Other Verse (poetry)
  • 1927: Emmy, Nicky and Greg (children's book)
  • 1929: A Buttonwood Summer (children's book)
  • 1929: Selected Poems (poetry)


  1. ^ Profile, Metuchen Recorder, February 24, 1900; accessed August 19, 2006.
  2. ^ Biographical Notes from Rittenhouse, Jessie B. The Second Book of Modern Verse (1922) at [1], accessed August 19, 2006.
  3. ^ Kilmer, Miriam A.Kilmer Genealogy - Descendancy Chart; retrieved July 7, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c d e "A Tribute to Aline Kilmer" by Francis X. Talbot in America October 18, 1941, 44-46.
  5. ^ Staff. "Joyce Kilmer Slain on the West Front; Former Member of Times Staff Had Won Sergeantcy In The 165th of Infantry. His Writings Well Known Author Was Rutgers And Columbia Graduate—Several Veterans Of The 69th Killed. His Lusitania Poem. Fought At The Marne. Veteran Of 69th Killed. Lieut. Harwood 'Doing Fine.' Parents Receive Letter Written After Date Of Reported Death" in The New York Times (August 18, 1918).
  6. ^ Gravestone inscription for Aline Murray Kilmer in Saint Joseph's Roman Catholic Cemetery, Newton (Sussex County), New Jersey; visited 24 June 24, 2013.
  7. ^ Kilmer, Aline. "Sanctuary", in Hearst International, Volume 41. (New York: International Publications, 1922), 22:28.

External links[edit]