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George Sterling

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George Sterling
Sterling shortly before his death in 1926[1]
Sterling shortly before his death in 1926[1]
BornGeorge Augustine Sterling III
(1869-12-01)December 1, 1869
Sag Harbor, Suffolk County, New York City, U.S.
DiedNovember 17, 1926(1926-11-17) (aged 56)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
  • Writer
  • poet
  • playwright
SpouseCaroline E. Rand

George Sterling (December 1, 1869 – November 17, 1926) was an American writer based in the San Francisco, California Bay Area and Carmel-by-the-Sea. He was considered a prominent poet and playwright and proponent of Bohemianism during the first quarter of the twentieth century. His work was admired by writers as diverse as Ambrose Bierce, Robinson Jeffers, Jack London, Upton Sinclair, Theodore Dreiser, Sinclair Lewis, and Clark Ashton Smith. In addition, Sterling played a major role in the growth of the California cities of Oakland, Piedmont, and Carmel-by-the-Sea.

Literary career and critical responses[edit]

During George Sterling’s thirty-year career as a writer, he wrote songs, plays, movies, short stories, essays, and more than a thousand poems. His works were published in nearly all American literary magazines, in more than a hundred newspapers, in anthologies, and in his own books. He earned several literary awards.

Although some critics of his time dismissed Sterling’s poems (In Freeman magazine, poet John Gould Fletcher called him “a versifier lavishing his craft on subjects beneath the dignity of a true poet”), other media reviewers regarded Sterling’s works highly (Atlanta Constitution: “There is no doubt at all about the genius of George Sterling”; New York Times: “[Ambrose] Bierce has been hailing Mr. Sterling for some years past as the greatest poet on this side of the Atlantic … Mr. Bierce’s hail seems likely to be justified”). Sterling’s works were admired by such prominent writers as Jack London (“the greatest living poet in the United States”), Upton Sinclair (“His work possess the qualities of the greatest poetry: sublimity of thought, intensity of emotion, enchanting melody, and severe and reverent workmanship”), Theodore Dreiser (“The ranking American poet, greater than any we have thus far produced”), and H. L. Mencken (“He was one of our greatest poets. … I had tremendous respect for his work and an admiration for his style”).[2]

Sterling wrote about a vast variety of topics in different poetic styles that evolved throughout his writing career.

Poet in training, 1896-1901[edit]

At age 26, San Francisco business executive George Sterling became obsessed with a new passion. He wanted to write serious poetry inspired by his poetic heroes such as John Keats and Edgar Allan Poe. Sterling wrote his first poems after his February 1896 marriage. He knew eminent literary critic Ambrose Bierce and asked permission to send him poems for evaluation. Bierce replied: “Of course you may send me verses—a bellyful if you like.” Sterling mailed Bierce dozens of poems and Bierce replied with detailed, precise comments.[3]

Bierce appreciated one Sterling poem enough to include it in his February 21, 1897 San Francisco Examiner column. The poem, “Farewell,” reflected on a dead friend’s passing and the absence or presence of an afterlife.[4] It was Sterling’s first appearance in print. For the next thirteen years Bierce continued to review and comment on Sterling’s poems, teaching his protégé poetic skills and shaping his artistic preferences. Between 1897 and 1901, Sterling wrote many poems but, usually dissatisfied, let only a handful become published.

Bierce’s protégé, 1901-1910[edit]

On April 11, 1901, Sterling mailed a new poem titled “Memorial Day, 1901” to Bierce for criticism. His mentor responded, “It is great—great!—the loftiest note that you have struck and held.” Bierce arranged for the Washington Post to publish the poem and wrote a preface explaining that though Sterling was a new poet, “he has written a considerable body of verse. Not all of it has the strength, fire, and elevation of the remarkable poem printed here, but none has been delinquent in the matter of ‘that something other than the sense’ which distinguishes poetry from mere verse. George Sterling is a poet, and a great one—one may safely stake on that all the reputation for literary judgment that one may hope to have.” The appearance of “Memorial Day, 1901” in the Washington Post was Sterling’s first publication of a major poem. It marked his entry into a new stage of development as a writer. After five years writing practice poems, Sterling at age 31 determined to become a writer of serious, elevated verse.[5]

Sterling loved astronomy because “my dear dead father was greatly interested in it, and I’ve spent many hours on the house-top with him and his telescope.” He marveled at planets, stars, and galaxies—apparently resting in peace but actually slowly and endlessly colliding with and destroying each other. Sometime after December 16, 1901, Sterling began a long poem depicting the galaxies and stars of “the stellar universe at strife, when to the eye it is a symbol of such peace and changelessness … It surely is a war if the cosmic processes are viewed as a whole.” The long poem, “The Testimony of the Suns,” is a lengthy astronomical poem that combines elements of science, fantasy, science fiction, and philosophy. Literary historian S. T. Joshi called it Sterling’s “longest poem and one of his greatest.”[6]

1903 The Testimony of the Suns and Other Poems by George Sterling, first edition.

The unusual poem was too long for magazines and was rejected by book publishers, so in 1903 Sterling self-published it in his first book, The Testimony of the Suns and Other Poems. When his book was released, Sterling’s poems had been published in newspapers and magazines for seven years, but “The Testimony of the Suns” marked the first time Sterling’s poetry attracted nationwide attention from critics. The New York Times said Sterling’s poetry has “the note of character that promises permanence.” Book News Monthly said his book “in every part rings true to the nature of man. The poems are often of great lyrical beauty and always have some music to them.” Impressions Quarterly began its review: “A poet of the first magnitude has risen.” “There is no doubt at all about the genius of George Sterling,” proclaimed the Atlanta Constitution. The critical success of “The Testimony of the Suns” established Sterling’s career as a poet.[7]

On August 18, 1905 Sterling and his wife Carrie moved from Piedmont, California to Carmel-by-the-Sea.[8] In December the Bohemian Club asked Sterling to write a play for its 1906 Midsummer Jinks. Sterling wrote the first half in one day. By December 17, he had almost finished a first draft of his entire verse play.[9] He took it to the Bohemian Club members responsible for the Jinks. After months of extensive changes, they agreed to stage Sterling’s fantasy as the Club’s 1906 summer presentation. However, in 1906 everything changed. The April 18, 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire burned Alexander Robertson’s bookstore to the ground. All but 200 copies of the second edition of The Testimony of the Suns and Other Poems were destroyed.[10]

1907 July 27: Front cover of The Triumph of Bohemia by George Sterling. Cover art by Ernest Peixotto.

Earthquake destruction meant the Bohemian Club could not prepare Sterling’s play The Triumph of Bohemia: A Forest Play, so the Club postponed it a year to the night of July 27, 1907. That night after dark about 600 Bohemian Club members gathered on log benches in Bohemian Grove, the Club’s private redwood forest. Slowly, stage lights imitating moonbeams faded in, causing figures on the Grove’s large stage to become discernible as sleeping tree-spirits. The play’s story pitted tree-spirits and their trees against the efforts of winds, time, fire, lumberjacks, and Mammon (greed) to destroy their forest. The trees are saved by an immense owl—the mascot of the Bohemian Club—and by the Spirit of Bohemia. The Bohemian Club printed copies of The Triumph of Bohemia for its members. “The climax of this year’s play left the audience in an awed silence which most playwrights would give years of their lives to win from a professional audience,” enthused a two-page review in Collier’s: The National Weekly.” The New York Times reported: “The people who saw it described it as being wonderful beyond words.”[11]

1909 A Wine of Wizardry and Other Poems by George Sterling, first edition first state.

In January 1904, Sterling had sent Bierce another long poem, “A Wine of Wizardry.” When Bierce read the poem, he thrilled: “And the poem! I hardly know how to speak of it. No poem in English of equal length has so bewildering a wealth of imagination. Not Spenser himself has flung such a profusion of pearls into so small a casket. Why, man, it takes away the breath!”[12] When “A Wine of Wizardry” was first published in Cosmopolitan magazine in 1907 with an afterword by Bierce it stimulated a nationwide controversy. It was both critically praised and condemned. The poem was reprinted in Sterling's 1908 collection A Wine of Wizardry and Other Poems. It was reprinted again several times, and has been imitated and parodied by many writers. The poem inspired Clark Ashton Smith to become a poet and influenced other writers as well.

By late 1907, Sterling was notorious due to the “Wine of Wizardry” furor, so he found it easier to sell his verses to magazines. Leading national magazines such as The American Magazine, Bookman, Century Magazine, Current Literature, Literary Digest, and McClure's bought his poems.[13] Dozens of newspapers reprinted his verses.

“More human” poems and first fiction, 1910-1916[edit]

In 1910 and 1911, Sterling began to consciously evolve his style and subjects. “I’m trying to become somewhat more human [in poetry]!” he wrote to poet Witter Bynner “It’s not so easy as I had fifteen years’ start [1896-1910] in the wrong direction.”[14]

1911 The House of Orchids and Other Poems by George Sterling, cover art by Porter Garnett.

In 1911, Alexander Robertson published Sterling’s third collection of verses, The House of Orchids and Other Poems. It sold more copies than his prior two volumes, and also generated his best reviews to date. The New York Times said: “In his new book … Mr. Sterling has added to his earlier unusual qualities of imagination and of expression the restraint needed to make them truly effective. … One could quote from it an hundred lines of exceptional beauty. … Mr. Bierce has been hailing Mr. Sterling for some years past as the greatest poet on this side of the Atlantic. Mr. Bierce’s hail seems likely to be justified.”[15] The Los Angeles Times: “The undeniable merits of the majority of the poems in The House of Orchids make the book an important addition to America’s modern poetic literature. Sterling has a rare perception of that thing which we call Beauty. And he possesses, also, the literary sense which results in that inevitable just-a-position of words which no amount of study can bring about, and which always distinguishes the genius from the philistine.”[16]

The Black Vulture,” a sonnet from The House of Orchids, was cited by Thomas E. Benediktsson in his book George Sterling as "a sonnet which became Sterling’s most consistently praised and most anthologized poem."[17] Poet and critic William Rose Benét wrote: “As for ‘The Black Vulture,’ I think it is one of the finest sonnets in the language.”[18] The New York Times said: “No finer sonnet has been written for many a day.”[19] In American Literature, professor Robert G. Berkelman called it “one of Sterling’s most enduring achievements and certainly among the memorable sonnets in our literature.”[20] After the poem’s first book publication in 1911, reprints of “The Black Vulture” in newspapers, magazines, and books have kept it almost continually in print for more than a hundred years.

The years 1912 and 1913 saw a burst of productivity from Sterling. His poems appeared in national publications American Magazine, Bookman, Century, Current Opinion, Everybody’s Magazine, Harper’s Monthly, Hearst’s International, North American Review, Saturday Evening Post, and other magazines, and were reprinted by the Washington Post and other newspapers across the country.[21] In 1912 a nationwide contest had been announced, offering large cash prizes for what judges chose as the three best poems published in a newspaper or magazine during 1912 but not published in any book.[22] Sterling submitted an ode to Robert Browning, and out of hundreds of poets who entered, won second place. He received a cash award of almost $8,000 in today’s money.[23] Even with many sales of his verses, Sterling was dissatisfied by how little money his poems earned. In January 1913 he began writing short fiction. “Finished my first short-story, ‘Mr. Easton & the Dryad!’” he wrote in his diary.[24]

Meanwhile, Sterling sold his poetry for the first time to the prestigious magazine The Smart Set, one of the most irreverent and influential literary magazines of its time.[25] The Smart Set’s prominence grew thanks to its two editors, H. L. Mencken and George Jean Nathan. Mencken, first as editor of Smart Set and later of American Mercury, became Sterling’s best customer, buying more of his poetry and prose than any other editor.[26] Mencken became much more than just a buyer to Sterling; the two men would be frequent pen pals, they would visit in person in New York and San Francisco, and Mencken would be indirectly involved in Sterling’s suicide.

First printed edition of A Masque of the Cities, a play by George Sterling and Henry Anderson Lafler performed April 7, 1913.

Harmon Bell, the founding president of the Oakland Commercial Club, conceived of another association, a joint task force linking all industries and city governments around the entire San Francisco Bay to attract businesses to the Bay Area. Bell persuaded 400 leading businessmen and politicians from all major Bay Area cities to gather at a banquet announcing his new organization. He wanted the event to rouse and enthuse his attendees. Henry Anderson Lafler and George Sterling were hired to write an inspiring musical play. At Bell’s banquet the night of April 7, 1913, their A Masque of the Cities was performed and by all accounts was a success. Newspapers gave glowing reviews. Four papers printed the play.[27] A Masque of the Cities was also printed using handset type on handmade paper as a keepsake edition.[28]

The next month, Sterling scored a quieter triumph. His poem “Willy Pitcher” appeared in the June issue of Atlantic Monthly, America’s most prestigious magazine.[29]

Sterling wanted to write fiction about prehistoric people. He created two Stone-Age characters, a boy and a girl. He introduced them as 10-year-old cave kids, then worked them through a series of six stories as they grew into a young man and woman. “Their adventures are more interesting and better told than [Edgar Rice] Burroughs, and more believable, too. All are good,” proclaimed Fantasy Commentator.[30] Sterling spiced paragraphs with the rhythms and vividness of verse: “Then silence leaped in upon sound like water above a cast pebble, and the forest resumed its dream.”[31] He finished his six stories and mailed his prehistoric series to magazine publishers. Most turned down his cavekids tales. Sterling could sell them only to Popular Magazine, a pulp fiction “rag.” The series title was Babes in the Wood.[32] It was the only longer piece of fiction by Sterling ever published.

At the end of 1913, critic William Stanley Braithwaite named Sterling’s “Night Sentries” one of the best poems of the year.[33]

Because Carrie Sterling divorced him, Sterling left Carmel, California on April 13, 1914 and moved to New York City.[34] He hoped to sell poems and stories to New York publishers.[35] He met a few friends in New York, but did not sell many poems or stories. On May 30, he moved to Sag Harbor, New York for the summer, writing either a thousand words of fiction or a complete poem every morning and swimming most afternoons.[36] Writer James Hopper lined Sterling up with a literary agent to sell his fiction.[37]

While Sterling visited Sag Harbor, Alexander Robertson published his newest book, Beyond the Breakers and Other Poems. The Los Angeles Times stated: “There is strength as well as grace in his verse, a richness of metaphor and simile, and seldom a weak line—never a careless one. His blank verse has no equal among his contemporaries.”[38] Poet Joyce Kilmer, in Literary Digest, decided: “By writing ‘[A] Wine of Wizardry’ and ‘The Black Vulture,’ George Sterling earned the gratitude of all lovers of poetry. And unlike most poets who suddenly become famous, he has steadily gained power. His new book, Beyond the Breakers and Other Poems, is better than any of the three distinguished volumes that preceded it.”[39] The New York Times differed: “Beyond the Breakers does not contain so much verse of unusual beauty as his previous volume, [The] House of Orchids, but it maintains a high average.”[40]

In February 1914 Sterling had written a short play, The Flight, for Bay Area social club the Family to present in the summer.[41] When the members of the Family club held their annual summer gathering, Sterling’s The Flight, with music by Cass Downing, was a high point. “So enthusiastic were the clubmen over this little drama that they immediately wired to Sterling at Sag Harbor, Long Island, informing him in all sincerity that it was the most beautiful play that had ever been given in the club’s history.”[42]

In autumn Sterling moved from Sag Harbor back to New York City with about 75 newly-written poems (most about the Great War) and fifteen stories. He sold a few to magazines, but only for low prices. In spite of Sterling knocking on New York editors’ doors during 1914, the national magazines that bought his poems were mostly publications he’d already sold to in prior years.[43] Sterling’s lack of an established reputation with East Coast editors crippled his ability to sell to other magazines.[44] His new year looked bleak in New York.

In San Francisco, however, the new year made most people feel eager. Their biggest anticipation was the 1915 World’s Fair, which would be held in the city to celebrate both the Panama Canal’s opening and San Francisco’s recovery from the 1906 earthquake and fire. The Panama-Pacific International Exposition was scheduled to begin February 20, 1915. That January, the San Francisco Examiner commissioned Sterling to write an ode commemorating the opening of the exposition.[45] Sterling’s long poem was printed in the Examiner, read at the exposition’s opening ceremony, excerpted by magazines and books, and in November, published by Alexander Robertson as a 525-copy hardcover limited edition on handmade paper.[46] The Examiner paid Sterling the equivalent of $4,100 for his ode, more than he earned from his entire summer of work in New York. Sterling missed California and his family and friends there. On April 15, 1915, he left New York City to return to San Francisco, arriving May 1.

1916 Yosemite: An Ode by George Sterling, his best-selling book.

In July Sterling wrote a long poem about Yosemite National Park and sold it to the San Francisco Call and Post.[47] In October, Alexander Robertson published Yosemite: An Ode as a book.[48]

1916 The Evanescent City, George Sterling's best-selling book

That month Sterling wrote his second poem about the Panama-Pacific International Exposition. This time he described the beauty of the fair’s buildings at sunset and reflected how such temporary glory will quickly fade. Sunset magazine printed his poem.[49] Alexander Robertson rushed a book version into print in December, in time for the Exposition’s last few days. The Evanescent City sold out its 4,000-copy first printing as well as a 1,000-copy second printing, one of the two best-selling volumes Sterling ever wrote.[50] With Sterling focusing in 1915 on his Californian successes, he sold poems to only nine national magazines that year.[51]

Playwright poet, 1916-1921[edit]

Sterling’s fifth collection of poetry, The Caged Eagle and Other Poems, was published in July 1916 by A. M. Robertson. His new poetry collection was not reviewed as widely as his prior books. The most passionate review came from William Stanley Braithwaite in the Boston Evening Transcript: “However he may express himself in strictly conventionalized forms, they do not seem to impede the really immense scope of his imagination. … it is of particular importance to note that his whole spiritual temper is made significant by the unusual quality this large power has upon his nature. I seem to feel this subtle sense of largeness, it may be spirit or vision or dream, in all that Mr. Sterling writes.”[52] Elsewhere in Boston, the Transcript’s competitor the Boston Post was more matter-of-fact: “In The Caged Eagle and Other Poems, George Sterling, a deservedly well known California poet, is certain to gratify those who have had the good fortune to read his earlier volumes. And the 50 poems on the war, all but one of them sonnets, will insure him a welcome to many new readers, although they will not endear him to German-Americans.”[53] The most unexpected review of The Caged Eagle and Other Poems came from former U.S. president Theodore Roosevelt, who on July 14, excited by the book’s pro-war poems, wrote a letter to Sterling beginning: “Three cheers for the unneutral sonnets!”[54]

1916 was a good year for Sterling in terms of the quantity of national magazines publishing his poetry: Ainslee’s, Art World, Bellman, Bookman, Collier’s, Current Opinion, Harper’s Monthly, Literary Digest, McClure’s, Munsey’s, Pearson’s, Poetry Journal, even the staid Scribner’s. The last days of 1916 saw a different kind of Sterling publication: a songbook Songs by George Sterling had music by Lawrence Zenda.[55] Zenda was the pen name of Mrs. Rosaliene Reed Travis, one of Sterling’s lovers.

1917 Jan 5 Los Angeles Evening Express ad for world premiere of The Play of Everyman by George Sterling

When Songs was published, Sterling was in Los Angeles working on a play.[56] The Play of Everyman is his adaptation of Austrian writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal's German play Jedermann. Lavish productions of Sterling’s The Play of Everyman in 1917 and 1936 were acclaimed by critics and boosted the careers of people involved. Sterling's adaptation was also staged in 1941 in New York City.

For months Sterling had called for the United States to join the Great War to support the Allies. Congress voted for the U.S. to enter World War I on April 6, 1917. Sterling joined a pro-war group of writers called the Vigilantes, pledging to write pieces to support Allied efforts. At Alexander Robertson’s request, Sterling gathered 28 of his war poems for a new book, The Binding of the Beast and Other War Verse. It was published in time for Christmas 1917. Sterling warned Clark Ashton Smith: “My little book of war-verse is out … it’s verse and not poetry.”[57]

At the end of 1917, Sterling’s poem “The Glass of Time,” about reflections in a lake at Jack London’s Beauty Ranch, was chosen one of the best poems of the year.[58]

First page of George Sterling's pencil first draft of The Twilight of the Kings.

Back in 1916, Bohemian Club managers had told Sterling they wanted him to write the Club’s grove play for 1918.[59] In early 1918 he finished the play’s song lyrics.[60] The name of Sterling’s anti-dictatorship musical drama was The Twilight of the Kings (with Richard Hotaling and [uncredited] Porter Garnett; music by Wallace A. Sabin). It was a science fiction allegory of World War I, but set in medieval times, with a prince inventing the superweapon gunpowder and suffering its consequences. As with other Bohemian Club Jinks spectacles, the full play was performed only once, on August 3, 1918. The magazine Musical America called it “a play affording broadly laid out and well characterized scenes, and … dignified and often impressive literary expression. The lyrics of the play … are by that conjurer of the beautiful, George Sterling … A ‘Peace Song,’ sung by one of the princes in the play, recommended itself very particularly; it is one of the choicest moments of the work.”[61] Musical America’s national competitor Musical Courier agreed “the play has much literary value. As to the dramatic side, it is in many passages splendid. … This is a deeply impressive prophetic drama.”[62] The other national magazine for professional musicians, Musical Leader, concluded its review: “The sentiment expressed in the masque and its pictureful presentation made this one of the banner years in the history of the club.”[63] On August 15, The Twilight of the Kings was staged in a concert version in San Francisco, with actor Richard Hotaling narrating the action and reading dialog, and professional singers performing the songs. “Jerome Uhl [a bass-baritone with New York’s Metropolitan Opera] made a tremendous hit performing the drinking song,” reported Musical Courier. The audience stopped the performance with applause and cheering and made Uhl sing the song again.[64]

Dust jacket of 1926 edition of Lilith: A Dramatic Poem with quotation from Theodore Dreiser.

Sterling wrote Lilith: A Dramatic Poem, a four-act fantasy verse drama from 1904 to 1918. The play was first published in 1919. Influential critic H. L. Mencken said of Sterling: “I think his dramatic poem Lilith was the greatest thing he ever wrote.” The New York Times declared Lilith “the finest thing in poetic drama yet done in America and one of the finest poetic dramas yet written in English.”[65] Author Theodore Dreiser said: “It rings richer in thought than any American dramatic poem with which I am familiar.”[66] Poet Clark Ashton Smith wrote: “Lilith is certainly the best dramatic poem in English since the days of Swinburne and Browning. … The lyrics interspersed throughout the drama are as beautiful as any by the Elizabethans.”[67] In his book George Sterling, Thomas E. Benediktsson stated: “The allegorical Lilith is undoubtedly Sterling’s best poem.”[68]

On March 23, 1920, Sterling announced he had finished the first draft of a historical play, Rosamund.[69] He finished the final draft on April 15, telling H. L. Mencken, “I’ve finished my dramatic poem, Rosamund. It contains one rape and four murders—quite Shakespearean.”[70] Sterling found Princess Rosamund’s story in chapter 45 of The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbons. In 567 A.D., Alboin, king of the Lombards, killed the Gepid king Cunimund. King Alboin raped Cunimund’s daughter Princess Rosamund, then forced her to marry him and become his queen. In 572 A.D., Queen Rosamund avenged her father by assassinating her husband King Alboin. Sterling self-published 500 numbered, hand-signed copies of Rosamund: A Dramatic Poem. The Oakland Tribune summed it up: “The story of the princess who was thrown into a world of fighting and lustful men, who was most grievously wronged and who became thereafter an avenger who used her beauty and her love as her weapons, is one that is filled with intense dramatic possibility and as told by Sterling has a tremendous emotional appeal, a noble rhythm, and a tragic atmosphere comparable to that of Macbeth[71].” After reading the play, Clark Ashton Smith wrote to Sterling: “My congratulations on Rosamund! As you warned me, it lacks the poetic beauty of Lilith; but nevertheless, it is a great drama. What action! It should make a tremendous ‘film’, if you don’t mind my saying so; I don’t mean that as a slam, in any sense.”[72]

Outside of Rosamund, Sterling had little published in 1920. That year, just four national magazines printed his poems.[73] However, a local newspaper poem was a hit. Sterling’s “The Cool, Grey City of Love (San Francisco),” gave San Francisco its most popular nickname. The poem was reprinted many times, both in publications and as stand-alone collectables.[74]

Simple, clear poems, 1921-1926[edit]

As if to make up for his scant 1920 output, during 1921 Sterling placed 15 poems in seven national magazines.[75] The poems he wrote in 1921 rarely used old-fashioned words such as “thee” or “thou” to sound “poetical” as many of his earlier poems did; instead, most of his new poems used only contemporary words. In June Sterling’s poem To a Girl Dancing was published as a limited edition of 120 elegantly designed hardcover books by the Grabhorn Press, one of the most esteemed fine presses in America.[76] That September Sterling accomplished an unusual literary feat: Charles Brennan, a defense attorney for movie star Roscoe “Fatty” Arbuckle’s rape and murder trial, hired Sterling to “prepare the epigrams for the speech of defense.”[77]

Alexander Robertson published Sterling’s newest collection of poems in December 1921: Sails and Mirage and Other Poems. Of the 61 poems in this anthology, only 22 were new in 1921. The majority were older.[78] Differences in Sterling’s newer poems were noticed by some reviewers. The New York Tribune pointed out: “In Sails and Mirage, I believe, we have Sterling’s choicest work; certainly his most keenly human. … Sterling in the past was too prone, one feels, to hurl suns and meteors and satellites about his finely-chiseled Dantesque head. … This gesture in the grand manner is in Sails and Mirage admirably subdued, and Sterling’s genuine gift for lyricism … issues forth with a pleasing klang for the sensitive ear and the active imagination.”[79] In the New York Evening Post, poet William Rose Benet remarked on the tenderness and wistfulness of the poems, different from Sterling’s earlier echoes of Milton’s “mighty line.”[80] Bookman, a leading publication for the book business, called Sterling’s book “an uncanny, bitter, and very touching conflict between passionate longing for beauty and angry resentment at the ugliness of life.”[81] Sterling himself thought he still had a way to go to make his poems feel modern. Of Sails and Mirage and Other Poems, he said: “It’s my best book, but almost as mid-Victorian as the others!”[82]

Sterling’s two major literary accomplishments of 1922 were both editorial projects. He began work on the first project in January, a book for the Book Club of California: The Letters of Ambrose Bierce. He selected the book’s contents. He reviewed each letter and deleted unfavorable references to living people and passages he felt made Bierce look bad. He helped the Book Club’s secretary, Bertha Clark Pope write an introduction, and himself wrote “A Memoir of Ambrose Bierce” for the book. Sterling proofread the galleys and the printer’s proofs, keeping involved through September.[83] Sterling often gave credit for his own work to someone else, and here gave Bertha Pope sole credit as editor, keeping his name only as author of “A Memoir.” H. L. Mencken reviewed the book' in Smart Set as “the most important contribution to Bierceiana made since Bierce’s death. The letters are well selected, and Sterling’s memoir and Mrs. Pope’s introduction are very well turned out.”[84] Thirty-six years later, historian David Magee called The Letters of Ambrose Bierce “A most ambitious project and, aside from Cowan’s Bibliography [of the History of California and the Pacific West], the most important publication in the [Book] Club’s first decade.”[85]

Sterling’s second 1922 editorial project was his own book, Selected Poems. New York publisher Henry Holt and Company told Sterling the company wanted to publish a collection of Sterling’s poetry. He went through five of his earlier books and selected 56 poems. He made more than a hundred changes to the texts of the poems. Many were modernizations; he changed “thy” to ”your,” “thine” to “yours,” “thou art” to “you are,” and “hath” to “had” or “has.” Critic Harriet Monroe had complained Sterling’s use of “deems” was “the frippery of a by-gone fashion.”[86] Sterling now replaced “deems” with “thinks” or “dreams.” These changes echo the contemporary vocabulary of Sterling’s new poems, and the advice he currently gave his protégés, such as telling poet Clark Ashton Smith to avoid the word “enfraught” because it “seems too artificial,” and to revise a phrase because it “sounds forced, obscure, and unnatural.”[87] Sterling sent Henry Holt and Company the manuscript of Selected Poems in May.[88]

During 1922, Sterling’s poem “Pumas” attracted notable responses. “Pumas” was first published in the New York Evening Post Literary Review, then reprinted in the national magazine Literary Digest, (which said: “Sterling is California’s leading poet, and judged by this his leadership extends much wider”), next reprinted in another national magazine, and finally selected by an anthology editor as one of the best poems of the year.[89]

The Bookfellows, a Chicago-based national organization of 3,000 booklovers and authors, announced April 28, 1923 Sterling’s sonnet “Shelley at Spezia” had won the association’s Kemnitz Prize for the best poem of the year.[90]

The next month Sterling’s Selected Poems was published. It contained mostly his older poems. Reviews were mixed. The New York Times said Selected Poems “contains a deal of beautiful albeit classical work. Some of it, to be sure, is on the cosmic order, but even here when Mr. Sterling is good he is very, very good. … Mr. Sterling is particularly successful in the sonnet form and one has only to note ‘The Dust Dethroned’ (which fairly claims consideration with Shelley’s ‘Ozymandias’) and ‘The Black Vulture’ to see how surely the poet handles this difficult form. His poems in regular forms often touch a real beauty, but the book taken as a whole fails really to stir the reader. Perhaps one reason for this is that Mr. Sterling is rather out of touch with his time.”[91] Outlook magazine disagreed: “It is poetry ‘in the grand manner,’ concerned with life and death and destiny and the mystery of the universe. … In profuse imagination and profound music George Sterling’s poetry is always richly endowed, and his followers will find in this volume poems that have won a place for themselves with these qualities.”[92] The New York Evening Post decided: “he sings best of the sea and of the stars. ‘Beyond the Breakers’ is a swimmer’s poem as thrilling as one of Swinburne’s. ‘Aldebaran at Dusk’ is wholly beautiful.”[93] In Ontario, Canada, the Border Cities Star said: “Only a few of these poems are excellent, but they alone, by their compression, form, and harmony, justify the collection.”[94] Poet John Gould Fletcher wrote a long negative review in Freeman magazine: “Mr. Sterling, at his best in certain sonnets, and in his overpretentious “Testimony of the Suns,” is about as good as [de Heredia or Fitzgerald: that is to say, a minor Frenchman or a minor Englishman. At his worst, in “A Wine of Wizardry,” he is sheer drivel: “Endymion” or “The Witch of Atlas” gone to pieces.” Fletcher concluded that what “Keats saw, Mr. Sterling can not see, and therefore he has remained purblind—a versifier lavishing his craft on subjects beneath the dignity of a true poet.”[95] Poetry: A Magazine of Verse ran a one-sentence dismissal ending: “his talent has been overshadowed by latecomers.”[96]

By June 1923 Sterling was working on another editing project: The Book Club of California recruited him to join poets Genevieve Taggard and James Rorty to collect an anthology of poems from California’s best living poets. Work on the anthology would occupy Sterling’s time for more than a year.

December 1923 first edition of play Truth by George Sterling, published by Bookfellows, Chicago.

Sterling wrote Truth, a verse drama telling a fantasy set in the imaginary medieval city of Vae, in 1921 and 1922. Chicago-based Bookfellows published Truth in 1923. Half a century later literary historian Thomas E. Benediktsson ranked Truth as “one of Sterling's finest works.”[97]

Sterling’s two poems “The Fog-Sea” and “The Young Witch – 1698” were both selected to appear in The Best Poems of 1923.[98]

Sterling began 1924 in Hollywood, working on a project for movie star Douglas Fairbanks, who produced his own movies. In those days movies were silent, so words spoken by characters were conveyed to audiences by titles on the screen. Fairbanks was producing and starring in the spectacular action-fantasy The Thief of Bagdad, and wanted Sterling to write more than 200 titles for the three-hour film. “I get $25. a day (about $750 a day in today’s dollars) and my fare to and from S.F. Not bad for a poor poet,” crowed Sterling. “I have luncheon ‘on the lot’ daily with Fairbanks and his wife (Mary Pickford),” then the world’s most popular movie actress.[99] Sterling also signed a contract with Fairbanks’ company to create a book of songs about The Thief of Bagdad, to be sold in movie theaters showing the movie. Sterling wrote lyrics (telling a newspaper reporter “the public likes them mushy”) and composer Mortimer Wilson wrote music, but no songbooks were printed.[100]

Afterwards Sterling returned to work on the Book Club of California’s poetry anthology. Among other tasks, he wrote an introduction, “From One Foothill,” his defense of what he loved about poetry.[101]

In 1924, fourteen Sterling poems were published in eleven national magazines.[102] In addition, his poems were published in dozens of newspapers. That year Sterling’s poem “The Flight” was named best narrative poem of the past year by Lyric West magazine, which awarded Sterling a cash prize of $100 (about $3,000 in today’s money).[103]

In 1925, the Book Club of California published Continent’s End: An Anthology of Contemporary California Poets, which Sterling had edited with Genevieve Taggard and James Rorty. Thirty-three years later, historian David Magee wrote: “Continent’s End is a real contribution to California literature. It represents the best of the younger poets of the day, such as Robinson Jeffers, who might not otherwise have found a hearing for their poems.”[104] That year Sterling became poetry editor, book reviewer, and columnist for the magazine Overland Monthly. He used his position to promote several younger poets, beginning his first monthly column by praising Jeffers and Clark Ashton Smith.[105]

During 1925 Sterling had more than 25 new poems published, seventeen of them in fourteen national magazines.[106] One key poem Sterling wrote in 1925 was not published until 1926. He spent months writing his long poem “The Pathfinders” in free verse—an unusual choice for Sterling, who had hated free verse poetry until he read and loved Robinson Jeffers’ free verse. Sterling sent “The Pathfinders” to H. L. Mencken, writing “This is probably the best thing I ever wrote, and I’m sending it to you first, hoping you’ll like it.” Mencken responded enthusiastically: “I think you are quite right. ‘The Pathfinders’ is an eloquent and excellent piece of writing and I shall put it into type at once.” When American Mercury published the poem, Sterling received a letter from Edgar Lee Masters, who after the publication of his best-selling book Spoon River Anthology had become one of America’s best-known poets. Masters said: “Last night I got a Mercury and read your poem ‘The Pathfinders.’ It is superb. It is a great symphony. … Such lines as these are of imagination all compact … The last line is a peak. I congratulate you most heartily.”[107]

July 1926 Bohemian Grove rehearsal of Truth by George Sterling, Act 2 Scene 2: King Ducorial's court. Photo by Gabriel Moulin.

Sterling’s biggest production in 1926 was a play. He completely rewrote his 1923 play Truth, transforming it into the Bohemian Club’s summer 1926 stage spectacle. Its cast of 173 actors and extras, 27 dancers, and a choir of about thirty boy singers from Grace Cathedral, filled Bohemian Grove’s mammoth stage. 58 San Francisco Symphony musicians performed music written and conducted by Domenico Brescia.[108]

Posthumously published works[edit]

When Sterling died November 17, 1926, he left behind many uncollected or unpublished works: dozens of essays, “seventy-odd short stories,” and hundreds of poems most readers had never seen.[109]

1926 book Robinson Jeffers: The Man and the Artist by George Sterling.

Sterling’s first posthumous book was at the publishers when he died. Knopf published Sterling’s Robinson Jeffers: The Man and the Artist—the first book about poet Jeffers—in December, 1926, days after Sterling’s death. The Occidental College Library’s online exhibit on Jeffers says: “George Sterling's book launched Jeffers career as a popular poet. This book represented the passing of the unofficial position of California's leading poet from Sterling to the young Jeffers.”[110]

Two years later, author Upton Sinclair published Sonnets to Craig, a collection of 102 poems Sterling had written in 1911-1912 to Sinclair’s wife, the writer Mary Craig Sinclair.[111] That same year 1928, a new edition of Songs by Sterling and with music by “Lawrence Zenda” (the pseudonym of Sterling’s lover Mrs. Rosaliene Reed Travis) was published with five songs with lyrics by Sterling not in the prior two editions of Songs.[112] Ten years after that, in 1938, Oxford University Press published Poems to Vera, 24 poems Sterling had written in 1910 to Vera Connolly, his young lover in Carmel who later became a “crusading journalist—a stirrer-upper.”[113]

The next year R. H. Barlow gathered 43 of Sterling’s uncollected poems in the anthology After Sunset. All but three of those poems were written from 1921 through 1926, making After Sunset even now 85 years later the only Sterling collection focused on the more modern poems Sterling wrote in his final years.[114] Because After Sunset was published in a tiny quantity by a bookstore lacking resources to publicize the book, few scholars were aware of it. Therefore, literary critics focused on Sterling’s earlier volumes, unconscious of most writings from Sterling’s prolific last six years. Thomas Benediktsson, for his 1980 book George Sterling, did read After Sunset, but mistakenly assumed that that 43-poem collection contained Sterling’s entire “body of uncollected verse,” unaware of more than five hundred additional uncollected poems written by Sterling.[115]

The most important posthumous Sterling publication has been the 2013 three-volume set Complete Poetry, edited by S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz. The first two volumes present the contents of eleven volumes of Sterling’s poems and six verse dramas, plus notes about almost every poem. The third volume gathers 578 Sterling poems never published in a book before.[116] Despite its title, Complete Poetry does not include all of Sterling’s verse compositions.

Sterling was a prolific and entertaining letter writer. Volumes of letters published to date include the Sterling-H. L Mencken correspondence, the Sterling-Clark Ashton Smith correspondence, and Sterling’s letters to his mentor Ambrose Bierce.[117]

Life and business career[edit]

Sag Habor, New York; Ellicott City, Maryland; and New York City: 1869-1890[edit]

George Augustine Sterling III was born December 1, 1869 in Sag Harbor on Long Island, New York. His father, Dr. George Augustine Sterling, Junior, M.D. (1843-1897), was a prosperous, deeply religious physician, the son of an Episcopal minister. The new mother, Mrs. Mary Havens Sterling (1845-1920), was the daughter of Captain Wickham Sayer Havens (1806-1880), a legendary whaler who retired rich and became a banker.[118]

George III was the first of nine Sterling children. His best friend was Roosevelt “Roose” Johnson. Both were athletes—stronger than other boys—and passionate readers. George and Roose led a gang of Sag Harbor boys who called themselves the Night Hawks.

In 1886, George’s father shocked his Episcopal friends by converting to Roman Catholicism.[119] Dr. Sterling wanted his three sons to become Roman Catholic priests, beginning with his oldest. High school graduate George agreed to enter a six-year seminary program at St. Charles College in Maryland. Sterling first seriously studied poetry there when he took an English composition and grammar class taught by Father John Bannister Tabb, a well-known poet. After three years of earning prizes as one of St. Charles’ top students, Sterling dropped out at the end of the school year in summer 1889.

Dr. Sterling next pushed his now nineteen-year-old son to become a doctor. He sent George to New York City to study medicine at the College of Physicians and Surgeons (now the graduate medical school of Columbia University). By early 1890, George decided medicine was not for him and came home.

In March 1890, his mother’s brother Frank C. Havens visited Sag Harbor to see his ailing mother Sarah Havens, George’s grandmother. Frank had left Sag Harbor as a boy and roamed the world, ending in San Francisco. There he founded the American Investment Union, its subsidiary, the Home Accident Insurance Company of San Francisco, and other corporations. Frank Havens had grown rich; he needed intelligent employees. His nephew impressed him. Frank offered George an entry-level job, with a chance to work his way up, and gave George a first-class train ticket to Oakland. Sarah Havens died September 22.[120] After her funeral, George took a train to California.

Oakland, California: 1890-1898[edit]

Twenty-year-old George Sterling arrived in Oakland, California the night of September 30, 1890. He moved into his uncle Frank’s estate near Oakland, Rosecrest, surrounded by the largest rose gardens in the west. Frank’s four sons lived there; their mother had died four years earlier. At 8:00 the next morning, Sterling reported for work at his first job, clerk in an Oakland bank. By the summer of 1891 he worked his way up to bookkeeper in Havens’ headquarters on Sansome Street in San Francisco.

In the summer of 1892, on a campout at Lake Temescal Sterling’s friend Carleton Bierce introduced him to Carleton’s uncle Ambrose Bierce, who four years later would change his life.[121]

In May 1895, Sterling began the cash book for Frank Havens’ new Real Estate Combine. At its first board meeting on June 4, stockholders (Havens owned all but seven shares) elected Sterling as the new corporation’s Secretary-Treasurer and as a member of its board of directors.[122]

On Sept. 5, 1895, Frank Havens incorporated a master holding company, the Realty Syndicate. The Syndicate was two-thirds owned by Frank M. Smith and one-third by Havens, but Havens was president and ran the new corporation. George Sterling was one of the Realty Syndicate’s seven founding directors.[123] The plan was for their new enterprise to build roads and public transit to the thousands of acres of raw land Havens, Smith, and their companies already owned, then sell tracts both to the public and to subdivision developers. The Realty Syndicate could provide financing to the developers to buy the land, and then finance their buyers’ development: building the streets, sidewalks, water mains, sewers, and houses to create saleable neighborhoods. It would also finance individual homebuyers’ purchases of finished houses, and provide loans to any would-be-homeowner who bought a one-house lot if they wanted to build a home of their own. Sometimes the Realty Syndicate would develop subdivision neighborhoods itself, either selling ready-to-build lots or building homes on them. But the Syndicate’s main goals were to sell large tracts of land and to finance those purchases—all on a massive scale.

On February 7, 1896, Sterling married his private stenographer, Caroline "Carrie" Eugenie Rand.[124]

Piedmont, California: 1898-1905[edit]

In 1898 George and Carrie Sterling moved to a house in Piedmont at 2010 Oakland Avenue.[125] In 1901 Sterling's first major poem was published in the Washington Post and he met struggling writer Jack London, who became his best friend. When London met him, Sterling was the corporate secretary of both the Real Estate Combine and the Piedmont Development Company, the auditor of the Realty Syndicate, and a member of the boards of directors of the Realty Syndicate, the Oakland Transit Company and other corporations.

Sterling and London became the center of "The Crowd," a group of writers, artists, and musicians in Oakland, Berkeley, and Piedmont. In early 1903, Sterling was appointed vice president of the Real Estate Combine. Later that year Sterling self-published his first book, The Testimony of the Suns and Other Poems, which generated nationwide acclaim. In 1904 he was named the Real Estate Combine’s chairman of the board. He was invited to join the Bohemian Club and worked to have the club admit Jack London as an honorary member. Sterling also became one of the Coppans, a group of creative people who turned Coppa's Restaurant into a San Francisco tourist attraction where visitors gawked at local celebrities.[126]

In the autumn of 1904 the Realty Syndicate and its managers—including Sterling—were attacked by a smear campaign in the San Francisco Examiner. Almost every day the Examiner printed stories accusing the Syndicate of defrauding investors, even though the Syndicate had always paid its loan and bond payments on time.[127] On November 18, 1904, Sterling resigned as a director of the Syndicate—although he would remain its employee. He had been a director for nine years.[128] That December, George also resigned from the board of Oakland Traction Consolidated.[129] In January 1905, George stepped down as the Real Estate Combine’s chairman, but remained its vice president and a member of its board.[130]

That January, a grand jury opened an investigation into the conduct of the Realty Syndicate and its officers. Then six investors sued Sterling and other Syndicate officers, accusing them of lying to defraud investors. In addition, the California State Senate opened an investigation of the Syndicate.[131] The senators who opened the State Senate investigation were convicted of taking bribes from the Examiner, so that investigation was dropped. The lawsuit was also dropped. Eventually the months-long grand jury investigation found no evidence of any wrongdoing.[132]

Sterling decided to quit his business career and become a full-time poet. He wanted to move out of the San Francisco Bay Area and its distractions. Carrie was reluctant to leave her family, friends, and active social life, but hoped going away might keep her husband from chasing other women. They took a train to Monterey to investigate. They were welcomed by Bohemian Club member Charles Rollo Peters, a landscape painter with a thirty-acre estate near Monterey. On March 4, 1905, Peters showed them nearby sights, including a forested artists’ colony, population 75, with white sand beaches. The village was named Carmel-by-the-Sea.

George Sterling posed for a photograph by Adelaide Hanscom Leeson which appeared in her 1905 edition of the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam.

On March 30 Sterling announced to the press he “will relinquish his connection with the Realty Syndicate and retire to private life” in June. He said of Carmel, “as beautiful as it is secluded, I expect to have the right sort of energy to give the world my best work.”[133]

Carmel-by-the-Sea: 1905-1914[edit]

George Sterling House[edit]

Carrie Sterling and others at Sterling Cottage.

In July 1905, Sterling moved 120 miles south to Carmel-by-the-Sea, California, an undeveloped coastal paradise, and soon established a settlement for like-minded Bohemian writers and other children of the counterculture.[134][135][136]

Sterling brought two friends, William E. Woods and Gene Fenelon, to Carmel to construct an American Craftsman cottage on a one acre hilltop in the Eighty Acres tract, northeast of Ocean Avenue and Junipero Street. Artist Charles Rollo Peters was influential in Sterling's move to Carmel.[137] The house had a thirty-foot-long by eighteen-foot-wide living room with oiled redwood paneling, a fireplace, and chimney made from Carmel stone. It had views of Carmel Valley, Carmel River, and the Santa Lucia Mountains.[136]

In 1907, Sterling became good friend with James Hopper and his wife when they moved to Carmel. In 1913, Hopper and his wife purchased the cottage from Carrie Sterling after she and George divorced.[138][135]

In 1924, the house burned down and was rebuilt with thermotite cement blocks, a locally produced fireproof building material. In 1938, Hopper sold the house to John P. Gilbert and his wife, the parents of Mrs. Ungaretti.[139]

Colony of artists[edit]

George Sterling, Mary Austin, Jack London, and James Hopper on Carmel beach.

A parallel colony of artists and painters already lived in Carmel, but Sterling attracted as new residents novelist Mary Austin,[140] photographer Arnold Genthe, Herbert Heron, Perry Newberry, and several other writers and artists. Upton Sinclair and Sinclair Lewis moved to Carmel on a trial basis, but decided Carmel was not for them. Jack London came to Carmel three times to visit Sterling, Ambrose Bierce visited Sterling twice, and Clark Ashton Smith stayed in Sterling's bungalow for a month.

He introduced Mabel Gray Young (Lachmund) to the artists and writers of the Bohemian Club and encouraged her to move to Carmel. In 1905, M.J. Murphy built a small redwood cottage for her, which became a gathering place.[136]: p30 

Sterling was one of the founders of the Carmel Forest Theater and the Carmel Arts and Crafts Club. On July 16, 1908, Sterling was toastmaster for thirty-two members of the club for the first annual breakfast held at the clubhouse.[141][142]

The death by poison of the young poet Nora May French in Sterling's home drew national press coverage.[143][144][145][146]

He is depicted twice in Jack London's novels: as Russ Brissenden in the autobiographical Martin Eden (1909) and as Mark Hall in The Valley of the Moon (1913).[citation needed]


On November 15, 1926, H.L. Mencken visited Sterling in San Francisco.

"He was in great pain when I called upon him at the Bohemian Club, but his mind was clear, and we had a brief and friendly palaver. I came away convinced that he was desperately ill. He showed every sign of complete exhaustion. That was on Monday. On Tuesday morning I went to see him again, but found him sleeping. On Tuesday night his door was locked, and the transom showed darkness within. I assumed he was still sleeping, and went away. No doubt he was already dead."[147]

Sterling died by suicide in his room at the Bohemian Club; his body was discovered on November 17, 1926.[148] He was 56 years old. Sterling carried a vial of cyanide for many years. When asked about it he said, "A prison becomes a home if you have the key".[citation needed] He was buried in Oakland, California.[142] Mencken wrote: "In the end, with age and illness upon him, he put an end to his life, quietly, simply and decently. It was, I think, a good life—and a good death."[147]


H. P. Lovecraft noted of Sterling: “I have the most profound respect for his work & influence in American letters.” Writers influenced by Sterling include Clark Ashton Smith, Robinson Jeffers, Audrey Wurdemann, Sinclair Lewis, Ray Bradbury, Fritz Lieber, Frances Marion, and others.[149]



  • During World War II, the Liberty ship SS George Sterling (MC hull no. 2152) was launched September 19, 1943.
  • In 2002, artist Robert Alexander Baillie carved George Sterling's poem "Pumas" onto a large limestone monument in South Carolina's Brookgreen Gardens.
  • Sterling Avenue in Berkeley is named for George Sterling.
  • Sterling Avenue in Alameda is named for George Sterling.[151]
  • Sterling Drive in Oakland is thought to be named for George Sterling.
  • In October, 2003, a plaque with Sterling's poem "The Black Vulture" was installed at 2080 Addison Street, Berkeley, California.
  • On October 8, 1950, in Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland, the California Writers Club dedicated a redwood tree near the park's cascade as a memorial to Sterling.[152]
1904 Robert Ingersoll Aitken bas relief sculpture of poet George Sterling.

* In 1904, sculptor Robert Ingersoll Aitken carved a bas relief portrait of Sterling for display at the St. Louis World's Fair. This sculpture is on permanent display in the Harrison Memorial Library's Henry Meade Williams Local History Department in Carmel-by-the-Sea, California.

  • A portrait bust of Sterling by sculptor Ralph Stackpole is displayed near the History Department in Dwinelle Hall at the University of California, Berkeley.
  • In the Beach Chalet in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park, the 1937 ground floor mural by Lucien Labaudt includes a painted banner arched over a doorway with the quotation "At the end of our streets—the stars," from Sterling's poem "The City by The Sea: San Francisco," and Sterling's name and life dates "1869-1926."
  • In San Francisco at the northeast corner of Townsend Street and Embarcadero is a stone monument with Sterling's name, the date 1901, and the quotation "To each the city of his dream," the first line of "Memorial Day," Sterling's first major poem.
  • In 1922, a large bronze plaque was placed in front of the official residence for San Francisco's fire chief at 870 Bush Street with a quotation from Sterling.
  • A stone bench was dedicated to Sterling on June 25, 1926, at the crest of Hyde Street on Russian Hill. The bench includes a plaque with a quotation from Sterling's poem "The Cool, Grey City of Love." In 1982, the park where the bench is located was named "George Sterling Park".[153]
  • Sterling's ashes are interred in the Chapel of Memories Columbarium and Mausoleum in Oakland, California.



Poetry volumes published during Sterling's lifetime[edit]

  • The Testimony of the Suns and Other Poems (San Francisco: W. E. Wood, 1903; San Francisco: A. M. Robertson, 1904, 1907)
  • A Wine of Wizardry and Other Poems (San Francisco: A. M. Robertson, 1909; [Sag Harbor, NY]: Brickiln Press, 2002)
  • The House of Orchids and Other Poems (San Francisco: A. M. Robertson, 1911)
  • Beyond the Breakers and Other Poems (San Francisco: A. M. Robertson, 1914)
  • Ode on the Opening of the Panama–Pacific International Exposition (San Francisco: A. M. Robertson, 1915)
  • The Evanescent City (San Francisco: A. M. Robertson, 1915)
  • The Caged Eagle and Other Poems (San Francisco: A. M. Robertson, 1916)
  • Yosemite: An Ode (San Francisco: A. M. Robertson, 1916)
  • The Binding of the Beast and Other War Verse (San Francisco: A. M. Robertson, 1917)
  • Thirty-Five Sonnets (San Francisco: Book Club of California, 1917)
  • To a Girl Dancing (San Francisco: Grabhorn, 1921)
  • Sails and Mirage and Other Poems (San Francisco: A. M. Robertson, 1921)
  • Selected Poems (New York: Henry Holt, 1923; San Francisco: A. M. Robertson, 1923; St. Clair Shores, Michigan: Scholarly Press, 1970; [Irvine, Calif.]: Reprint Services, 1974)
  • Strange Waters (San Francisco: [Paul Elder?], 1926).

Poetry volumes published posthumously[edit]

  • The Testimony of the Suns, Including Comments, Suggestions, and Annotations by Ambrose Bierce: A Facsimile of the Original Typewritten Manuscript (San Francisco: Book Club of California, 1927).
  • Sonnets to Craig, Upton Sinclair, ed. (Long Beach, Calif.: Upton Sinclair, 1928; New York: Albert & Charles Boni, 1928). [Boni published both hardcover and paperback editions in 1928.]
  • Five Poems ([San Francisco]: Windsor Press, 1928).
  • Poems to Vera (New York: Oxford University Press, 1938).
  • After Sunset, R. H. Barlow, ed. (San Francisco: John Howell, 1939).
  • A Wine of Wizardry and Three Other Poems, Dale L. Walker, ed. (Fort Johnson: "a private press," 1964).
  • George Sterling: A Centenary Memoir-Anthology, Charles Angoff, ed. (South Brunswick and New York: Poetry Society of America, 1969).
  • The Thirst of Satan: Poems of Fantasy and Terror, S. T. Joshi, ed. (New York: Hippocampus Press, 2003).
  • Complete Poetry, S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz, eds. (New York: Hippocampus Press, 2013).
  • El Testimonio de los Soles y Otros Poemas: Edicióne Crítica y Bilingüe, Ariadna García Carreño, ed. and translator (Madrid: Editorial Verbum, 2022).
  • El Vino de la Hechicería y Otras Herejías: Edicióne Crítica y Bilingüe, Ariadna García Carreño, ed. and translator (Madrid: Editorial Verbum, 2024).



  • Songs, music by Lawrence Zenda (Rosaliene Travis, pseud.), (San Francisco: Sherman, Clay, 1916, 1918, 1928).
  • "You Are So Beautiful", music by Lawrence Zenda (Rosaliene Travis, pseud.), (San Francisco: Sherman, Clay, 1917).
  • "We're A-Going" (San Francisco: Sherman, Clay, 1918).
  • "The Flag," music "March of the Men of Harlech" (traditional), (San Francisco: A. M. Robertson, 1918).
  • "Love Song," music by John H. Densmore, (New York: G. Schirmer, 1926).
  • "The Abalone Song," with additional verses by Opal Heron, Sinclair Lewis, Michael Williams, and others, (San Francisco: Albert M. Bender [Grabhorn Press], 1937; San Francisco: Windsor Press, 1943; Los Angeles: Tuscan Press, 1998).


  • Robinson Jeffers: The Man and the Artist (New York: Boni & Liveright, 1926).


  • Babes in the Wood (San Francisco: Vince Emery, 2020).


  • The Letters of George Sterling, Dalton Harvey Gross, ed. (PhD diss: Southern Illinois University, 1968).
  • Give a Man a Boat He Can Sail: Letters of George Sterling, James Henry, ed. (Detroit: Harlo, 1980).
  • From Baltimore to Bohemia: The Letters of H. L. Mencken and George Sterling, ed. S. T. Joshi (Rutherford, NJ: Fairleigh Dickinson University, 2001).
  • Dear Master: Letters of George Sterling to Ambrose Bierce, 1900–1912, Roger K. Larson, ed. (San Francisco: Book Club of California; 2002).
  • The Shadow of the Unattained: The Letters of George Sterling and Clark Ashton Smith, David E. Schultz and S. T. Joshi, eds. (New York: Hippocampus Press, 2005).

Volumes edited by Sterling[edit]


  1. ^ O'Day, Edward F. (December 1927). "1869–1926". Overland Monthly. LXXXV (12): 357–359.
  2. ^ John Gould Fletcher, “Books: Out Where the West Begins,” Freeman v.7 n. 179 (August 1923), pp. 548-549. “The Poet of the Suns,” Atlanta Constitution (March 16, 1904), p. 4. “A Poet Who Finds Himself,” New York Times (June 25, 1911), p. 57. Jack London November 19, 1910 letter to Lucius C. Pease, The Letters of Jack London, Earle Labor, Robert C. Leitz, III, and I. Milo Shepard, eds. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1988), v. 2, p. 944. Upton Sinclair, “The Poetry of George Sterling,” New Age: A Weekly Review [London, England] v. 16 n. 10 (January 7, 1915), pp. 261-262. Theodore Dreiser December 26, 1920 letter to Edward H. Smith: Letters of Theodore Dreiser: A Selection, Robert H. Elias, ed. (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1959), v. 1, p. 322. H. L. Mencken: “Poet Found Dead in Bed in S.F. Club,” Oakland Tribune (November 17, 1926), p. 1.
  3. ^ Bierce January 13, 1897 letter to Sterling, A Splendid Poison: The Letters of Ambrose Bierce and George Sterling, David E. Schultz and S. T. Joshi, eds. (New York: Hippocampus Press, 2025), p. 17.
  4. ^ “Farewell,” San Francisco Examiner (Feb. 21, 1897), p.34.
  5. ^ Bierce, “A Poet Has Risen,” and Sterling, “Memorial Day, 1901,” Washington Post (May 26, 1901), p. 26. Poem reprinted in the Oakland Enquirer (unlocated date) and the Nebraska City Conservative (November 28, 1901), p. 13.
  6. ^ Quotations from Sterling: March 22, 1902 letter to Bierce, George Sterling, Dear Master: Letters of George Sterling to Ambrose Bierce, 1900-1912, Roger K. Larson, ed. (San Francisco: Book Club of California, 2002), pp. 28-31. Quotation from Joshi: George Sterling, Complete Poetry, S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz, eds. (New York: Hippocampus Press, 2013), v. 2, p. 752.
  7. ^ “The Versifiers: New Volumes of Poetry by American Writers,” New York Times Saturday Review of Books (Mar. 12, 1904), p. 172. “Reviews,” Book News Monthly, v. 22 n. 258 (Feb. 1904), pp. 719-720. For a second review from the same publication, see Talcott Williams, “With the New Books,” Book News Monthly, v. 22 n. 259 (Mar. 1904), p. 795. “George Sterling’s Poems,” Impressions Quarterly v. 5 (Mar. 1904), pp. 18-21. “The Poet of the Suns,” Atlanta Constitution (Mar. 16, 1904), p. 4. That review follows a prior one in the Constitution the previous day: “Mr. Sterling’s High Theme,” p. 4.]
  8. ^ George Sterling, Carmel Diaries, June 1905 – Nov. 1913 (Berkeley, Bancroft Library: n.d.), (microfilm), August 18, 1905.
  9. ^ Carmel Diaries, December 17, 1905.
  10. ^ Robert W. Mattila, George Sterling: A Bibliography (Seattle: Book Club of Washington, 2004), section A1.b.
  11. ^ Jesse Lynch Williams, “Forest Plays in the Redwoods: The Midsummer Mask [sic] by the Bohemian Club of San Francisco.” Collier’s: The National Weekly v. 39 n. 24 (Sept. 7, 1907), pp. 20-21. Otis Notman (pseudonym of Madeleine Z. Doty), “Visits to Californian Authors: Mary Austin, James Hopper and George Sterling as They Appear in Their Homes by the Old Carmel Mission,” New York Times Autumn Book Number, Part I (October 18, 1907), pp. 634-635
  12. ^ Bierce February 5, 1904 letter to Sterling, Ambrose Bierce, The Letters of Ambrose Bierce, Bertha Clark Pope [and George Sterling, uncredited], eds. (San Francisco: Book Club of California, 1922), p. 86.
  13. ^ Mattila, C17-C34.
  14. ^ Sterling September 20, 1913 letter to Bynner: George Sterling, The Letters of George Sterling, Dalton Harvey Gross, ed. (PhD diss: Southern Illinois University, 1968), pp. 251-253.
  15. ^ “A Poet Who Finds Himself: Mr. Sterling’s Success in His Latest Volume of Verse,” New York Times Review of Books (June 25, 1911), p. 400.
  16. ^ Willard Huntington Wright, “Fresh Literature—Book Reviews: The Poet’s Hour,” Los Angeles Times (July 30, 1911), p. 46.
  17. ^ Benediktsson, Thomas E. (1980). George Sterling. Boston: Twayne. p. 101.
  18. ^ William Rose Benét, “Four Poets,” New York Post Literary Review, (August 18, 1923), p. 27.
  19. ^ “A Poet Who Finds Himself: Mr. Sterling’s Success in His Latest Volume of Verse,” New York Times Review of Books (June 25, 1911), p. 400.
  20. ^ Robert G. Berkelman, “George Sterling on ‘The Black Vulture,” American Literature, v. 10 n. 2 (May, 1938), pp. 223–224.
  21. ^ Mattila, C58-C83.
  22. ^ Topics of the Week: Cash Prizes for Poetry,” New York Times Review of Books (February 4, 1912), p. 49.
  23. ^ “Poets Win $1,000 in Cash: Orrick Johns, Thomas Augustine Daly and George Sterling Get Prizes,” Hartford [Connecticut] Courant (November 25, 1912), p. 8. Titled “An Ode for the Centenary of the Birth of Robert Browning” in Ferdinand Earle, ed., The Lyric Year: One Hundred Poems (New York: Mitchell Kennerley, 1912), pp. 235-241.
  24. ^ Carmel Diaries, January 17, 1913
  25. ^ George Sterling, “The Rack,” Smart Set (April 1913), v. 39 n. 4, pp. 35-36.
  26. ^ Mencken bought 34 poems, two one-act plays, and five prose pieces: S. T. Joshi, “George Sterling in the Smart Set” and “George Sterling in the American Mercury,” in S. T. Joshi, ed., From Baltimore to Bohemia: The Letters of H. L. Mencken and George Sterling (Madison and Teaneck: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2001), pp. 274-275. Joshi does not include minor items written by Sterling but published anonymously or under pseudonyms, such as Fannie Luxmore (pseud.), “Before and After Taking,” Smart Set v. 51 n. 1 (January 1917), p. 216. Sterling’s second-best customer was Sunset magazine, which purchased 30 poems, according to Mattila, section C.
  27. ^ “Sing Praise of Cities: Allegory Is Clever,” Oakland Tribune (April 8, 1913), pp. 14-15; “Masque of Cities[, a]n Allegory, is Hit of Banquet,” San Francisco Call (April 8, 1913), p. 13; a condensed version in “ ‘Hands around the Harbor’ Becomes Effective Force,” San Francisco Bulletin (April 8, 1913), p. 8; and excerpts: “A Masque of Cities: Diners Hear Allegory,” San Francisco Examiner (April 8, 1913), p. 11.
  28. ^ A Masque of the Cities (San Francisco: Taylor, Nash & Taylor, 1913).
  29. ^ Sterling, “Willy Pitcher,” Atlantic Monthly v. 111 n. 1 (June 1913), p. 811.
  30. ^ William H. Evans, “Fantasy in the Popular Magazine, Fantasy Commentator v. 2 n.8 (Fall 1948), p. 277.
  31. ^ Sterling, “The Sabre-Tooth,” Popular Magazine v. 31 n. 2 (February 1, 1914), fourth paragraph.
  32. ^ Sterling’s first Babes in the Wood story, “The Sabre-Tooth,” appeared in the February 1, 1914 issue of Popular Magazine, followed by his next five prehistoric stories in succeeding issues: “The Pool of Pitch” v. 31 n. 3 (February 15, 1914), pp. 219-224; “Naa-Shus the Man-Ape” v. 31 n. 4 (March 1, 1914), pp. 191-197; “The Trapping of Rhoom” v. 31 n. 5 (March 15, 1914), pp. 184-190; “The Wrath of Lions v. 31. n. 6 (April 1, 1914), pp. 218-224; “The Involuntary Exile” v. 32 n. 1 (April 15, 1914), pp. 210-216. In New South Wales, Australia, “The Sabre-Tooth” was serialized on the front pages of the Bathurst Times (March 4 and 5, 1914).
  33. ^ William Stanley Braithwaite, Anthology of Magazine Verse for 1913 (Boston: William Stanley Braithwaite, 1913), pp. 52-53.
  34. ^ April 13, 1914 date: Sterling Al 14, 1915 letter to Clark Ashton Smith, George Sterling and Clark Ashton Smith, The Shadow of the Unattained: The Letters of George Sterling and Clark Ashton Smith, David E. Schultz and S. T. Joshi, eds. (New York: Hippocampus Press, 2005), pp. 121-122.
  35. ^ “New York Claims Poet George Sterling,” Oakland Tribune (January 18, 1914), section II p. 9; “George Sterling Goes to New York Next Week,” Monterey Cypress (March 17, 1914), p. 1; “Poet Sterling Leaves for Atlantic Coast”, San Francisco Examiner (April 14, 1914), p.10.
  36. ^ May 30 date: Sterling to John Myers O’Hara July 6, 1914, Gross, pp.283-284. Sag Harbor writing output: Sterling to Craig Sinclair July 24, 1914, Gross, pp. 285-286.
  37. ^ Sterling to Craig Sinclair Sept. 13, 1914, Gross, pp. 287-288.
  38. ^ “The Poets—Good and Bad,” Los Angeles Times Annual Book Number (Dec. 6, 1914), p. 2.
  39. ^ [Joyce Kilmer], “Current Poetry,” Literary Digest v. 49 n. 19 (November 17, 1914), p. 903.
  40. ^ “Good Verse from American Singers: Four Poets Whose Work Constitutes in Diverse Ways a Genuine Contribution to the Modern Muse,” New York Times (March 19, 1916), p. 19.
  41. ^ Sterling to Craig Sinclair February 4, 1914, Gross pp. 271-272; Sterling to John Myers O’Hara February 6, 1914, Gross, pp. 272-274.
  42. ^ “Play by Sterling at Family Farm,” Oakland Tribune (September 13, 1914), p. 11; Sterling to Edward Hamilton, September 20, 1914, Gross, pp. 290-292.
  43. ^ Mattila C84-C122; see also Sterling to Clark Ashton Smith October 4, 1914, Unattained, pp. 113-114.
  44. ^ Sterling October 22, 1914 letter to Albert Bender, Gross, pp. 298-299
  45. ^ Sterling January 18, 1915 letter to Mary Craig Sinclair, Gross, pp. 316-318.
  46. ^ Sterling, “Ode on the Opening of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition,” San Francisco Examiner (February 20, 1915), Exposition Section, p. 5. Sterling, Ode on the Opening of the Panama-Pacific International Exposition (San Francisco: A. M. Robertson, 1915).
  47. ^ Sterling, “Yosemite,” San Francisco Call and Post (October 2, 1915), p. 13.
  48. ^ Mattila, A10.
  49. ^ Sterling, “The Evanescent City,” Sunset v. 35 n. 6 (December 1915), pp. 1,115-1,124.
  50. ^ Mattila, A9.
  51. ^ Mattila (C123-C139) names the national magazines as Ainslee’s, American Magazine, Current Opinion, Delineator, Hearst’s International, Literary Digest, McClure’s, Munsey’s, and Smart Set.
  52. ^ William Stanley Braithwaite, “A Poet Who Speaks from California,” Boston Evening Transcript (Sept. 20, 1916).
  53. ^ Alfred S. Clark, “The World of Books,” Boston Post (October 28, 1916), p. 6.
  54. ^ “Roosevelt Writes to Western Poet,” Oakland Tribune (July 23, 1916), p. 22.
  55. ^ George Sterling and Lawrence Zenda, Songs (San Francisco: Sherman, Clay & Co., 1916). Two different editions were published in [1918?] and 1928.
  56. ^ Mattila A13a; Sterling to Charmian London December 4, 1916, Gross, p. 361.
  57. ^ Sterling to Smith December 22, 1917, Unattained, pp. 154-155.
  58. ^ William Stanley Braithwaite, ed., Anthology of Magazine Verse for 1917 (Boston: Small, Maynard & Company: 1917), pp. 226-227.
  59. ^ Sterling September 11, 1916 letter to Clark Ashton Smith: Unattained, pp. 139-140.
  60. ^ Sterling February 16, 1918 letter to Smith: Unattained, pp. 156
  61. ^ Arthur Farwell, “The Twilight of the Kings,” Musical America v. 28 n. 17 (August 24, 1918), pp. 29-30.
  62. ^ Frank Patterson, “Annual ‘High Jinks’ of the Bohemians,” Musical Courier: Weekly Review of the World’s Music v. 77 n. 8 (August 22, 1918), pp. 15-15.
  63. ^ Jeanne Lane, “War Does Not Interfere with ‘Jinks’ at Bohemian Grove,” Musical Leader v. 36 n. 8 (August 22, 1918), pp. 174-175.
  64. ^ “Grove Play Music,” Musical Courier: Weekly Review of the World’s Music v. 77 n. 9 (August 29, 1918), p. 32.
  65. ^ Percy A. Hutchison, “Poetic Drama Did Not Die with Stephen Phillips,” New York Times Review of Books (August 22, 1926), p. 9.
  66. ^ Theodore Dreiser, “Introduction,” Lilith: A Dramatic Poem (New York: Macmillan, 1926), p. xi.
  67. ^ Clark Ashton Smith, “Praise for Sterling,” Oakland Enquirer (January 10, 1920), p.8.
  68. ^ Benediktsson, p. 136.
  69. ^ Sterling to H. L. Mencken March 23, 1920, From Baltimore, p. 84; Sterling to Clark Ashton Smith March 23, 1920, Unattained, pp. 180-181.
  70. ^ Sterling to Mencken April 15, 1920, From Baltimore, p. 86.
  71. ^ “Poetry: George Sterling Has Written Poetic Drama of Unusual Power and Beauty,” Oakland Tribune (November 14, 1920), p. 24.
  72. ^ Clark Ashton Smith October 19, 1920 letter to Sterling: Unattained, p. 188.
  73. ^ Mattila, C225-C232.
  74. ^ San Francisco Bulletin, (December 11, 1920), p. 12. For reprints, see Mattila, A35, A35.b, C232; and Complete Poetry, volume 2, p. 717. Sterling included “The Cool, Grey City of Love” in his 1921 book Sails and Mirage and Other Poems.
  75. ^ Mattila, C233-C249.
  76. ^ Mattila, A24.
  77. ^ Sterling to H. L. Mencken September 28, 1921, From Baltimore, p. 144.
  78. ^ Mattila, A25.
  79. ^ Pierre Loving, “A Poet of the Grey City,” New York Tribune (Sept. 17, 1922), p. 56.
  80. ^ William Rose Benet, “Sterling’s Latest Poems,” New York Evening Post Literary Review (March 11, 1921), p. 487; see also Ray C. Longtin, Three Writers of the Far West: A Reference Guide (Boston: G. K. Hall, 1980), p. 203.
  81. ^ “Recent Books in Brief Reviews,” Bookman v. 56 n. 1 (September 1922), p. 104.
  82. ^ Sterling May 28, 1922 letter to Walter Adolphe Roberts: Gross, p.445.
  83. ^ Sterling wrote to Book Club president Albert Bender September 12, 1922, after reviewing printer’s proofs: “This is O.K. now, but I’d like to see the revised proofs. Several more items concerning Bierce have come to my memory, and I can include them, unless, as is likely, this memoir is already long enough.
  84. ^ [H. L. Mencken], “The Letters of Ambrose Bierce”, Smart Set v. 71 n. 1 (May 1923), p. 144.
  85. ^ David Magee, The Hundredth Book: A Bibliography of the Publications of the Book Club of California & a History of the Club (San Francisco: Book Club of California, 1958), p. 9.
  86. ^ Harriet Monroe, “The Poetry of George Sterling,” Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, v.7 n.6 (March 1916), pp.307-313.
  87. ^ Quotations: two November 3, 1922 Sterling letters to Clark Ashton Smith, Unattained, pp. 213, 214.
  88. ^ Sterling May 15, 1922 letter to Smith: “I’ve sent Holt & Co. the MS. of my Selected Poems, there’s enough to make a book of 190 pages.” Unattained, p. 206.
  89. ^ New York Evening Post Literary Review v. 2 n. 29 (March 25, 1922), p. 1; reprinted Literary Digest v. 73 n. 4 (Ap. 22, 1922), p. 38; Current Opinion v. 74 n. 3 (Mar. 1923), p. 353; Franklin Pierre Davis, ed., Anthology of Newspaper Verse for 1922 (Enid, Oklahoma: Frank P. Davis, 1923), p. 60.
  90. ^ William Thornton Whitsett, “Outlooks on Books,” Charlotte Observer (June 24, 1923), p. 5. The prize covered May 22 – April 1923.
  91. ^ “Some Rhymesters ‘Piping Strains the World at Last Shall Heed’,” New York Times Review of Books v. 72 n. 1 (June 10, 1923), p. 12.
  92. ^ Outlook v. 134 n. 5 (June 20, 1923), p. 240.
  93. ^ William Rose Benet, “Four Poets,” New York Evening Post Literary Review (August 18, 1923), p. 907.
  94. ^ Tabloid Reviews of New Works,” [Windsor Ontario] Border Cities Star (October 27, 1923), section 4 p. 6.
  95. ^ John Gould Fletcher, “Books: Out Where the West Begins,” Freeman v.7 n. 179 (August 1923), pp. 548-549.
  96. ^ Eunice Tjetjens, “Bids for Premature Judgment,” Poetry: A Magazine of Verse v. 22 n. 6 (September 1923), p. 333.
  97. ^ Benediktsson, p. 149.
  98. ^ Thomas Moult, ed., The Best Poems of 1923 (New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1924), pp. 21-22 and pp. 87-89.
  99. ^ Sterling to Clark Aston Smith January 15, 1924; Shadows of the Unattained, pp. 237-238.
  100. ^ Book of The Thief of Bagdad songs: Sterling May 13, 1924 letter to H. L. Mencken, From Baltimore, p. 199. Mushy lyrics: “Even Poets May Enter the Movies,” Hanford Daily Sentinel (February 21, 1924), p. 6.
  101. ^ “From One Foothill”: Continent’s End, pp. xvi-xxiv.
  102. ^ Mattila, C302 – C323, lists the national magazines: Ainslee’s, Bookman, Century, Current Opinion, Harper’s Monthly, Golden Galleon, Literary Digest, Measure: A Journal of Poetry, Scribner’s, Step Ladder, Youth’s Companion.
  103. ^ Lyric West Suspends,” Los Angeles Times (June 22, 1924), part III p. 30. The contest’s “year” covered poems published between April 1923 and April 1924.
  104. ^ Magee, p. 12.
  105. ^ Sterling, “Rhymes and Reactions,” Overland Monthly v. 133 n. 11 (November 1925), p. 411.
  106. ^ Mattila, C325-C353, lists these fourteen national magazines: All’s Well, American Mercury, Bookman, Buccaneer, Century, Harp, Harper’s Monthly, Munsey’s, Nation, Outlook, Saturday Review of Literature, Verse, Voices, Yale Review.
  107. ^ Sterling quotation: Feb 11, 1926 letter to H. L. Mencken, From Baltimore, p. 226. Mencken quotation: Feb. 17, 1926 letter to Sterling: From Baltimore, p. 226. Edgar Lee Masters May 26, 1916 letter to Sterling: Rudolph Blaettler Collection of George Sterling Papers, Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.
  108. ^ Scale of spectacle: George Sterling, “The Twenty-Fifth Grove Play,” Truth (San Francisco: Bohemian Club, 1926), pp. vi-viii.
  109. ^ Donald Gray, “Sterling in Type,” Overland Monthly v. 85 n. 11 (November 1927), pp. 328, 350-351.
  110. ^ Occidental College Library, “The Life of the Poet & the Controversy That Surrounded Him,” available online.
  111. ^ Sonnets to Craig, Upton Sinclair, ed. (Long Beach, Calif.: Upton Sinclair, 1928; New York: Albert & Charles Boni, 1928). Sinclair published the first edition himself; Boni quickly published a second edition. Boni published both hardcover and paperback editions dated 1928.
  112. ^ George Sterling and Lawrence Zenda (pseudonym), Songs (San Francisco: Sherman, Clay & Co., 1928). The five songs were “Dirge” (from Lilith), “A Visitant,” “You Are So Beautiful,” “The Iris-Hills” (from Rosamund), and “The Hidden Garden.”
  113. ^ Vera Connolly Papers finding aid, available online.
  114. ^ Sterling’s Sails and Mirage and Other Poems was published in 1921, but most poems in that book were written years earlier, between 1916 and 1919.
  115. ^ Benediktsson, p. 58.
  116. ^ George Sterling, Complete Poetry, S. T. Joshi and David E. Schultz, eds. (New York: Hippocampus Press, 2013).
  117. ^ The three titles referenced earlier include From Baltimore to Bohemia: The Letters of H. L. Mencken and George Sterling, S. T. Joshi, ed., (Madison and Teaneck: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 2001); The Shadow of the Unattained: The Letters of George Sterling and Clark Ashton Smith, David E. Schultz and S. T. Joshi, eds. (New York: Hippocampus Press, 2005); and Dear Master: Letters of George Sterling to Ambrose Bierce, 1900-1912, Roger K. Larson, ed. (San Francisco: Book Club of California, 2002). In addition, A Splendid Poison: The Letters of Ambrose Bierce and George Sterling, David E. Schultz and S. T. Joshi, eds. (New York: Hippocampus Press, 2025) is in press.
  118. ^ George Sterling wrote two poems about his grandfather Havens, “The Master-Mariner” (first published 1913) and “Ballad of the Swabs” (1914). His poem “Sails” (1917) mentions his grandfather’s death, which he witnessed as a ten-year-old boy. (“Captain Wickham S. Havens,” Sag-Harbor Express, 1880 Dec. 2, p. 2; “Capt. Wickham S. Havens,” Sag-Harbor Corrector, 1880 Nov. 27, p. 3.)
  119. ^ “Our Reply to the Sterling Letter,” Sag-Harbor Express (May 13, 1886), p. 2; untitled, Sag-Harbor Corrector (Ap. 24, 1886), p.3.
  120. ^ “In Memoriam,” Sag-Harbor Express (Sept. 25, 1890), p. 3.
  121. ^ George Sterling, “A Memoir of Ambrose Bierce” in The Letters of Ambrose Bierce (San Francisco: Book Club of California, 1922), edited by Bertha Pope and (uncredited) Sterling, p. xxxvi.
  122. ^ The Real Estate Combine (minutes book), Frank C. Havens Papers, Box 2, Bancroft Library.
  123. ^ “Local News Notes,” San Francisco Chronicle (September 6, 1895), p. 11; “New Corporation,” San Francisco Examiner ((September 6, 1895), p. 9. See also “Big Real Estate Syndicate Formed,” San Francisco Chronicle (September 23, 1895), p. 12.
  124. ^ “Mated and Married,” Oakland Tribune (March 14, 1896), p.3.
  125. ^ Gail G. Lombardi, “George Sterling,” Piedmont’s History, v. 16 (Fall/Winter 2015), p. 7.
  126. ^ Mabel Croft Deering, “San Francisco’s Famous Bohemia Restaurant,” Critic and Literary World v. 48 n. 6 (June 1906), pp. 523-528.
  127. ^ The Examiner’s month-long smear campaign began with “The Oakland Realty Syndicate Borrows Nearly $4,000,000, Promises Full Protection to the Lenders: Where Is the Protection? Statements of Assets False,” San Francisco Examiner (October 26, 1904), p. 3. Most Examiner smear articles were reprinted on the front page of the Oakland Tribune. For Sterling, see “New Way of Protecting Investors: Property Claimed and Published as Assets of the Realty Syndicate Held in the Names of Private Individuals,” San Francisco Examiner (October 30, 1904), p. 29, reprinted Oakland Tribune (October 31, 1904), p. 2; and “Mortgages Leave Narrow Margin of Assets as Doubtful Security for the Certificates: Heavy Burden of Debt Is a Menace,” San Francisco Examiner (November 1, 1904), p.4, reprinted in the Oakland Tribune (November 1, 1904), pp. 1-2.
  128. ^ Samuel J. Taylor, “One Hundred Eighty-Sixth and Special Meeting of the Board of Directors of the Realty Syndicate,” Minutes of the Board of Directors, v. 5 (San Francisco: Realty Syndicate, Nov. 10, 1904), pp. 24-28, Realty Syndicate Company Records, Bancroft Library. The Syndicate first filed for incorporation Sept. 5, 1895, listing Sterling as a founding director.
  129. ^ Transcript of Proceedings of the Directors and Stockholders of the Oakland Transit Consolidated in the Matter of the Issue by Said Corporation of the Oakland Transit Consolidated Mortgage Five Per Cent. Sinking Fund Twenty-eight Year Gold Bonds to the Amount of Seven Million Dollars (Oct. 7 – Dec. 27, 1904); Harmon Bell Papers, Bancroft Library. Sterling remained a stockholder in the company.
  130. ^ The Real Estate Combine (minutes book).
  131. ^ “Legislative Committee Will Investigate Realty Syndicate: Havens Is to Explain Its Methods,” San Francisco Examiner (Jan. 26, 1905), p. 3, (reprinted in Oakland Tribune, Jan. 26, 1905, p. 4; “Realty Syndicate Officers Accused of Fraud: Holders of Corporation’s Certificates Begin Suit to Recover Money, and Make Charges Against Directors,” San Francisco Examiner (Jan. 29, 1905), p. 43; “Say Its Scheme Is to Defraud: Suit Begun Against Realty Syndicate by Six Holders of Its Certificates,” San Francisco Call (Jan. 29, 1905), p. 35; “Sue to Get Money Back: Holders of Realty Syndicate Certificates Bring an Action Against That Corporation,” San Francisco Chronicle (Jan. 29, 1905), p. 40.
  132. ^ “Four Senators Accused of Taking Bribes,” San Francisco Examiner (Jan. 31, 1905), pp. 1-3; “Claim Senators Took Bribes,” San Francisco Examiner (Jan. 31, 1905), p. 2; “Senator Wright Makes Denial,” San Francisco Examiner (Jan. 31, 1905), p. 2; “Prompt Investigation of the Charges Against Senators Will Be Made by the Special Senate Committee of Five,” plus three more stories on same page, San Francisco Examiner (Jan. 31, 1905), p. 4; “F. C. Havens at Sacramento: He Will Appear before Committee to Explain Syndicate Methods,” Oakland Tribune (Jan. 31, 1905), p. 5; “Senate Committee Takes up Bribery Charges,” Oakland Tribune (Jan. 31, 1905), p. 14; “Examiner’s Boodle Weapon of Revenge: Four Senators Feature of Hearst Plot,” Los Angeles Times (Jan. 31, 1905), p. 4; “Demands Investigating: Attorney for Realty Syndicate Anxious for a Hearing,” San Francisco Call (Feb 3, 1905), p. 3; “Realty Concern Asks a Hearing,” San Francisco Chronicle (Feb. 4, 1905), p. 3; “Keane Makes Losing Fight,” San Francisco Call (Feb. 4, 1905), p. 3; “Syndicate Wants Hearing,” Oakland Tribune (Feb. 4, 1905), p. 9; “Four Accused Senators Wanted Secret Meetings,” San Francisco Call (Feb. 7, 1905), p. 3.
  133. ^ “Retiring from Business,” San Francisco Call (Mar. 31, 1905), p. 14; “George Sterling to Lead Life of Poet: Author of The Testimony of the Suns Will Abandon Business Career and Devote His Talents to Literary Work,” San Francisco Examiner (Mar. 31, 1905), p. 2.
  134. ^ Edwards, Robert W. (2012). "Chapter Two – Western Frontiers: Birth of the Carmel Art Colony (1896-1909)". Jennie V. Cannon: The Untold History of the Carmel and Berkeley Art Colonies (PDF). Oakland, California: East Bay Heritage Project. p. 39. ISBN 978-1467545679. Retrieved April 7, 2023.
  135. ^ a b Hudson, Monica (2006). Carmel-By-The-Sea. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California: Arcadia Publishing. pp. 18, 82, 90. ISBN 9780738531229. Retrieved April 5, 2023.
  136. ^ a b c Paul, Linda Leigh (2000). "George Strling House". Cottages by the Sea, The Handmade Homes of Carmel, America's First Artist Community. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California: Universe. p. 28, 30. Retrieved April 6, 2023.
  137. ^ Watson, Lisa Crawford (2015). Legendary Locals of Carmel-by-the-Sea. Arcadia. p. 34. ISBN 9781439651179. Retrieved December 19, 2021.
  138. ^ Seavey, Kent (2007). Carmel, A History in Architecture. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California: Arcadia Publishing. p. 48, 55-56. ISBN 9780738547053. Retrieved April 5, 2023.
  139. ^ "The Eighty Acres - City of Carmel" (PDF). Architectural and Historical Survey Carmel-by-the-Sea. Carmel-by-the-Sea, California. 1989. Retrieved April 5, 2023.
  140. ^ Austin, Mary (May 1927). George Sterling at Carmel. The American Mercury. pp. 65–72.
  141. ^ "News From Carmel. Arts and Crafts Club Serves a Swell Breakfast". Monterey Daily Cypress and Monterey American. Monterey, California. July 17, 1908. p. 1. Retrieved March 11, 2022.
  142. ^ a b "Poet Suicide No Surprise To Friends". Oakland Tribune. Oakland, California. November 18, 1926. p. 13. Retrieved April 6, 2023.
  143. ^ "Young Poetess A Suicide In Poet Sterling's Home". The Oakland Tribune. Oakland, California. November 15, 1907. p. 4. Retrieved April 5, 2023.
  144. ^ "Nora May French, Poetess, Ends Life By Taking Poison". San Francisco Chronicle. San Francisco, California. November 15, 1907. p. 1. Retrieved April 5, 2023.
  145. ^ "Ashes of Nora May French Will be Cast Into Ocean Tomorrow". The San Francisco Call. San Francisco, California. November 16, 1907. p. 1. Retrieved April 5, 2023.
  146. ^ "Midnight lure Of Death Leads Poetess To Grave". San Francisco Examiner. San Francisco, California. November 17, 1907. p. 1. Retrieved April 5, 2023.
  147. ^ a b "Mencken Extols Sterling as Last of Free Artists". Oakland Tribune. Oakland, California. November 18, 1926. p. 13. Retrieved October 7, 2023.
  148. ^ The New York Times, in a story dated of November 17, 1926, reported: "His body was found this noon by club attendants....That Sterling probably died about midnight, twelve hours before the body was found, was the belief of the doctor after an examination."
  149. ^ H. P. Lovecraft October 17, 1923 letter to Clark Ashton Smith: H. P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, Dawnward Spire, Lonely Hill: The Letters of H. P. Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith, 1922-1931, David E. Schultz and S. T. Joshi, eds. (New York: Hippocampus Press, 2017), pp. 58-59.
  150. ^ Dear Master: Letters of George Sterling to Ambrose Bierce, 1900–1912, Roger K. Larson, ed. (San Francisco: Book Club of California, 2002), p. 65.
  151. ^ "What's in a Name: Sterling Avenue". Alameda Sun. January 7, 2021. Retrieved February 5, 2023.
  152. ^ John Burroughs, "Redwood to Be Dedicated to Poet Sterling's Memory," Oakland Tribune (October 5, 1950), p. 36-E.
  153. ^ "George Sterling Park". San Francisco Parks Alliance. May 10, 2012. Retrieved November 4, 2018.

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