Edgar Guest was born in August of 1881 in Birmingham, England. When he was only ten years old his family moved to Detroit, Michigan where he found work as a copy boy for the Detroit Free Press. His employment became full-time when his father died and he was forced to drop out of high school. Guest would go on to work at the newspaper for sixty-five years. It was in the Detroit Free Press that Guest’s first poem was published in December of 1898. Its release started a period of wide readership for the writer. He began to write a weekly column for the paper titled, “Blue Monday Chat.” It eventually expanded into the daily “Breakfast Table Chat.”
Guest married Nellie Crossman soon after, in 1906. Together the couple had three children. It was around his time that his verse found a stable audience and he began his near-constant release of volumes. He came to be known as “the poet of the people.”
His upbeat, optimistic, and oftentimes inspiring poems were popular throughout North America. It is thought that throughout his life he wrote somewhere around 11,000 poems. His vast body of work was published in over 300 different newspapers and eventually collected into more than 20 books. Two of the most popular of these were A Heap o’ Livin’ published in 1916 and Just Folks which appeared the following year. To this day his work still appears in publications such as Reader’s Digest, although his writing does not enjoy the public acclaim it once did.
His career developed when in 1931 he was chosen to lead a weekly radio program called Guest in Your Home. His role with the production ended in 1942 but NBC picked up the premise for a television series.
He was known locally to care deeply for his community. He was eventually made a Freemason in Detroit and served as the inspiration for the Edgar A. Guest Award given out by the lodge. Edgar Guest died in Detroit in August of 1959 at the age of seventy-seven.