LINCOLN, JOSEPH C[ROSBY]. (1870–1944). Joseph C. Lincoln, the
descendant of a long line of a seafarers, was a prolific author of best-selling
verses, stories, and novels that portrayed life along the shore of Cape Cod*
with nostalgia and humor. The son of Captain Joseph and Emily (Crosby)
Lincoln, the author was born in Brewster, a small village that was home
port for sea captains, fishermen, innkeepers, shop merchants, and saltworks
After leaving Cape Cod, Lincoln worked for several years as a bookkeeper
in Boston before becoming a commercial artist for The League of American
Wheelmen Bulletin (LAW), in which his first poems were published. These
early verses (1896–1898), such as “The Ballade of Miss Polly’s Hat” and
“Waiting for the Mail,” were often brief, rhymed stories reminiscent of his
boyhood experiences on Cape Cod. In 1897 Lincoln and his wife, Florence
Ely Sargent, moved to New York, where he continued to submit his stories
and poems to Harper’s Weekly, Ainslee’s, and The Saturday Evening Post
while working as editor for a banking magazine. His first critical recognition
came with the publication of “The Cod-Fisher” in Harper’s Weekly (7 July
1900). A lengthy poem evoking spray-soaked fishermen aboard a battered
schooner in stormy seas, it was included in Lincoln’s first book, Cape Cod
Ballads and Other Verses (1902). His first novel, Cap’n Eri (1904), a story
of three Cape Cod sea captains, became an overnight success.
Thereafter, Lincoln devoted himself to writing. Dubbed the “Literary
Dean of Cape Cod” by William Dana Orcutt, Lincoln wrote hundreds of
short stories, poems, yarns, and more than forty novels about the people
and villages of his native coast. Cape Cod Yesterdays (1935) contains his
personal observations on a vanishing way of life. A bibliography of his work
appears in A Prolific Pencil: A Biography of Joseph Crosby Lincoln, Litt. D.
by Percy Fielitz Rex (1980).