Illinois Authors

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William Oliver

Pen Name: None

Connection to Illinois: The author upon visiting Illinois in the early 1800's wrote a guide for would be settlers from England. This has provided us with an illustration of life at that time in Illinois.



Primary Literary Genre(s): Non-Fiction

Primary Audience(s): Adult readers

William Oliver on WorldCat :

Selected Titles

  Eight months in Illinois :
ISBN: 9781275620070 OCLC: 811061012

Gale/Sabin Americana, [Detroit] : [2012]

In December 1841, William Oliver, an Englishman, set out from New York City on a trip to the Midwest which allowed him to spend several months in the state of Illinois. Upon his return to England so many persons interested in immigrating to America questioned him about conditions there that he decided to publish an account of what he had seen. The poorer classes in England were those for whom he wrote primarily. This book contains a great variety of information about life in America, but it is especially valuable for its picture of economic conditions in the state of Illinois--Foreword to 1966 edition.

Eight months in Illinois :
ISBN: 0809324377 OCLC: 47243939

Southern Illinois University Press, Carbondale : 2002.

"The Illinois frontier offered abundant opportunity, noted English traveler William Oliver after his journey to America in 1841-42, but life there was hard. Accordingly, Oliver advised the wealthy and comfortable to remain in England and counseled the unprosperous to seek their fortunes in America. Written for the poor who would migrate and published in 1843, his Eight Months in Illinois: With Information to Immigrants sought only to provide pertinent, valid, and practical information about what people might encounter in the frontier state. What Oliver actually accomplished, however, was much more: he imparted valuable insights into and analyses of American life during an era of sweeping social, economic, and political change." "Oliver set out to write, and indeed produced, an unvarnished work replete with useful and tangible facts about everyday life on the prairie. In his new foreword to this edition, James E. Davis stresses Oliver's sincere desire to help British immigrants succeed in America. Oliver, Davis notes, "devoted dozens of pages of advice on numerous matters: various routes to Illinois and their advantages and disadvantages, processes of settling, qualities of western houses, costs of obtaining a new farm." (Buying and fencing the land, building the house and furnishing it, digging a well, erecting the outbuildings and pens, and plowing, planting, and hauling the crops to market cost approximately $1,277.00.) Oliver discussed other practical matters, such as the importance of having sons. He also assured his intended readership that "in the West, distinction of classes is little known and seldom recognized."" "As a document covering the Middle West in the 1840s, Eight Months in Illinois: With Information to Immigrants has few equals. It paints a plain picture, laying out the essential facts and presenting the typical incidents that enable us to trace the course of a settler's simple, diligent, laborious day-to-day life. According to Davis, Oliver depicted "accurate and balanced slices of life in Illinois and America, including nasty insects, crude conditions, and the necessity of work." And he did so without a trace of anti-American bias."--BOOK JACKET.