by John Dewey
edited by Jo Ann Boydston
foreword by Matthew J. Brown
Southern Illinois University Press, 1977
eISBN: 978-0-8093-9116-5 | Cloth: 978-0-8093-0800-2 | Paper: 978-0-8093-3959-4
Library of Congress Classification PS3507.E878P6 1977
Dewey Decimal Classification 811.52


A literary discovery of considerable magnitude, these 98 previously unpub­lished poems by John Dewey, written principally in the 1910–18 period, illu­minate an emotive aspect in his intel­lectual life often not manifest in the prose works.

Rumors of the existence of the poems have circulated among students of Dewey’s life and writings since 1957,when Mrs. Roberta Dewey gained pos­session of them from the Columbia University Columbiana collection. But except for the few persons who saw copies made by the French scholar Deladelle five years after Dewey’s death, the poems have remained inaccessible until now.

None of the poems has hitherto been published. Mrs. Roberta Dewey and Dewey’s children from his first marriage seem not to have known of Dewey’s experiments in verse during his lifetime. And, as evidence presented here now shows, only two or three acquaintances knew of actual poems written by Dew­ey, one of them the Polish-American novelist Anzia Yezierska, who had a brief emotional involvement with Dewey in the 1917–18 period. The factual, rather than inferential, evi­dence of Dewey’s relationship with Anzia Yezierska appears in the poems, which, taken as a whole, provide reveal­ing insights into Dewey’s feelings and illuminate not only aspects of his emo­tions but of his thought as well.

The fact that Dewey did not publish the poetry himself, together with the circumstances of its discovery and un­usual history, has led to the exception­ally careful editorial treatment of the poems given here. Scholars will find all the evidence for the authorship of the manuscripts clearly presented and all the changes and alterations carefully recorded. This edition has received the Modern Language Association of Amer­ica Center for Editions of American Authors Seal as an “approved text.”