Encyclopedia Of Detroit

Guest, Edgar

Born in Birmingham, England in 1881, prolific poet Edgar Guest’s family moved to Michigan when he was just 10 years old. In 1895, Guest began his career at the Detroit Free Press as copyboy. Soon after, Guest was promoted to police writer and later to exchange editor. In 1904, he began writing verses for the Free Press under the heading, “Chaff,” which evolved into a hugely popular daily feature entitled “Breakfast Table Chat.” In 1906, Guest married Nellie Crossman, and the couple had three children.

Fans of Guest’s verse wanted more than his Press features. Assisted by his typesetter younger brother, Harry, Guest began publishing books of poetry. His 1916 collection, A Heap O’ Livin’, sold over a million copies, and Guest followed it with other publications, like Just Folks in 1918 and Rhythms of Childhood in 1924. Soon Guest’s verses went into syndication and were carried in more than 300 newspapers, which led to a radio-show that ran from 1931-1942, and a television show called A Guest in Your Home in 1951.

Guest’s poems, relatively short and with simple rhymes, often capture a very sentimental view of everyday life and everyday occurrences. His poetry appealed to an increasingly urban population, who found charm and comfort in “the good old days.” Guest worked with the Free Press for over 6 decades, contributing to nearly every edition, and building a large catalog of poems. Guest died in 1959, and is buried in Detroit’s Woodlawn Cemetery.



Signed photo of Edgar A. Guest, 1933

Collection of Edgar Guest's works published by The Detroit Free Press, 1921

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