by George J. Dance


T.A. Daly (1871-1948). Courtesy Find a Grave.

Thomas Augustine Daly {May 28, 1871 - October 4, 1948) was an American poet and journalist, well known in his day for his dialect verse.[1]


Youth and educationEdit

Daly was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Anne Victoria (Duckett) and John Anthony Daly, who owned and ran the 1st Catholic bookstore in the city. He was educated him in both public schools and Catholic boarding schools.[2].

He began attending Villanova College in 1885, at age 14. He then transferred to Fordham University (where, he later said, he "tried to major in baseball and cigarette smoking"), but dropped out after his sophomore year.[2]


After college Daly worked for a time as a cashier in a grocery store, where he learned and studied the Italian and Irish accents of his customers. In 1891 he became a reporter for the Philadelphia Reporter, eventually working his way up to editorial writer.[2]

In 1896 he married Anne Bancroft, who would bear him 7 children. He enjoyed a happy family life, which he would write about in his 1916 volume, Songs of Wedlock.[2]

He became the general manager of the Catholic Standard Reporter in 1898.[2] He was credited with making the newspaper the most successful Catholic weekly paper in the United States.[3]

His debut collection, Canzoni, was published in 1906, when Daly was 35, and sold approximately 50,000 copies in 12 editions.[3]

He wrote a daily column of jokes and verses for the Philadelphia Evening Ledger from 1915 to 1918 and the Philadelphia Record (where he also worked as associate editor) from 1918 to 1924.[3] After 1929 he wrote exclusively for the Philadelphia Evening Bulletin.[1]

He died in Philadelphia aged 77, and is buried in that city's Old Cathedral Cemetery.[1]


Daly was celebrated in his time for his Irish- and Italian-American dialect verse. Reviewing his 1919 collection McAroni Ballads, a New York Times reporter called his dialect poems "the best" in the volume, while a critic for the same paper declared that he "“uses dialect more skillfully than any other American poet."[2]

Louis Untermeyer compared Daly to his contemporaries in 1919: "Less popular than Riley or Dunbar, Daly is more skillful and versatile than either; his range and quality are comparable to Field's."[3]

Though generally praised during most of his lifetime, Daly was also criticized for being a versifier rather than a poet. Ironically, his writing was glowingly described as comic and clever, qualities he felt did not constitute good humorous verse. His severest criticism came from England, where Athenaeum reviewers of Madrigali (1912) declared he lacked "the saving grace of humour" and that his "exotic diction tends to become wearisome."[3]


Daly received an honorary M.A. in 1901 and a Litt.D. in 1910 from Fordham University. He also was awarded a Litt.D. from the University of Notre Dame in 1917, and from Boston College in 1921.[2]

His poem "To a Thrush" was chosen by Ferdinand Earle in The Lyric Year as 2nd-prize winner over 10,000 others in a contest to determine poems representative "of the work done to-day in America."[3]



  • Canzoni (illustrated by John Sloan). Philadelphia: Catholic Standard & Times, 1906; 5th edition, Philadelphia, D. McKay, 1906.
  • Carmina. New York: J. Lane, 1909.
  • Madrigali. Philadelphia: David McKay, 1912.
  • Little Pollys Pomes. New York: Devin-Adair, 1914.
  • Songs of Wedlock. Philadelphia: David McKay, 1916.
  • McAroni Ballads, and other verses. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Howe, 1919.
  • McAroni Medleys. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1936.
  • Selected Poems. New York: Harcourt, Brace & Howe, 1936.
  • Late Lark Singing. New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1946.


  • Herself and the Houseful: Being the middling-mirthful story of a middle-class American family of more than middle size (illustrated by John Daly). New York: Harcourt, Brace, 1924.


  • The Wissahickon. Philadelphia: Garden Club, 1922.
  • A Little Book of American Humorous Verse. Philadelphia: David McKay, 1926; Great Neck, NY: Granger, 1979.
"Between Two Loves" by T.A

"Between Two Loves" by T.A. Daly (read by Tom O'Bedlam)

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[4]

See alsoEdit



  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 Thomas Augusting "T.A." Daly, Find a Grave. Web, Nov. 26, 2018.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Thomas Daly, Pennsylvania Center for the Book. Web, Nov. 26, 2018.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 Thomas Augustine Daly, PoemHunter. Web, Nov. 28, 2018.
  4. Search results = au:T A Daly, WorldCat, OCLC, Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Nov. 28, 2018.

External linksEdit

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