WALTER HINES PAGE
1855 -1918

 Walter Hines Page, journalist and diplomat was born at Cary, North Carolina of pioneer farming stock. In 1871 he entered Trinity College, North Carolina (now Duke University), but he transferred in 1873 to Randolph-Macon College, Ashland, Virginia. At Randolph, Page came into contact with Thomas Randolph Price who aroused a love of England and English literature. In 1876, Page became a fellow at John Hopkins University, but had decided by 1878 that he did not want to devote his life to Greek classicism and left university.

Page chose journalism as his profession and in 1880 became a "cub" reporter on the St Joseph Gazette, Montana. Within five months he was editor of the paper. By 1881he was on the move again, this time to travel throughout the South and write about the economic and social problems he encountered. With his unique style of writing he was soon offered a roving commission on the New York World. He became an editor writer and literary critic but resigned when John Pulitzer took over the World in 1883. He returned to the South and took over the Raleigh State Chronicle, in his home state of North Carolina.

During his time in Raleigh he plunged himself into numerous campaigns for the improvement of the South, which had suffered greatly after the War for Southern Independence.  He was an advocate of decent education facilities for whites and blacks, the promotion of local industries and the construction of better roads. Although sound in his reforms he did stir considerable hostility in his fellow Southerners and was not able to make a success of his newspaper. In 1887, after the collapse of the Chronicle, he returned to New York and joined the business staff of Forum, which was not a particularly lively or successful monthly review. Within a number of years his enthusiasm and hard work had changed the publication for the better and had become one of the most entertaining and influential reviews in America.

The success of Forum brought Page a good reputation and he went on to take over the editorial post at the Atlantic Monthly and by 1899 had become a partner in the newly founded publishing house Doubleday, Page and Company. The following year he founded the World's Work, a magazine devoted to politics and practical affairs and probably Page's most important contribution to American journalism. Page was resourceful and ingenious and managed to achieve a great deal from his writers " He made a friend of almost every contributor and a contributor out of almost every friend". (Outlook, June 27, 1928)

Page was a humorous and sociable man, who had many friends including Woodrow Wilson whom he supported for the presidency. Wilson repaid his friendship by offering him the post of Ambassador to Great Britain, which he accepted gladly in 1913. With his life long devotion to Anglo-American relations and cultivation of British culture, he was dearly loved by the British. He also worked harmoniously to iron out any friction that had built up between Britain and the United States, especially after the Panama and Mexican toll questions.

When the First World War broke out in 1914, Wilson and Page gradually drifted apart owing to their different standpoints on the war. Wilson stuck solidly to neutrality in thought and action, but Page thought that the war was an assault on democratic civilization by Prussian militarism and that the United States should support the Allies. Throughout the neutrality period Page expressed himself with frankness in letters to Wilson and the House and constantly pleaded for a close Anglo-American accord, but his views were discounted as being pro British. It can not be disputed that Page was devoted to his own country, its democracy and people, but when the United States finally entered the war in 1917 he rejoiced. He was particularly pleased that Wilson's war message took the same ground that he had taken earlier. He urged the immediate dispatch of fleets to aid the Allies followed by a large and powerful army. The strain of the work soon took its toll and by 1918 he was gravely ill and had to resign. He returned to the United States and died just two months later in Pinehurst, North Carolina, leaving a widow, Willa Alice, three sons and a daughter.

His journalistic writing would fill many volumes and he wrote three books The Re-building of old Commonwealths (1902), A publishers confession (1905) and The Southerner (1909). However it is his letters, so rich in literary and human quality and so full of whimsical humour, that will stand as Page's most enduring contribution to American literature.