Thursday, December 12, 2013

Lida Wilson Turner (ca. 1881-1971)

Born ca. 1881, Ohio
Died June 22, 1971, DeKalb County, Georgia

Lida A. Wilson was born in about 1881 in Ohio. Unfortunately I don't know when or where, nor do I know the names of her parents. And although she attended college, I don't know the name of the institution. Sometime after 1900, she married Charles Gainer Turner (1881-1964), who over the course of his life was a druggist, a businessman, and an inventor. The couple lived in Atlanta and adopted a daughter named Virginia. Lida Wilson Turner had her verse published in Georgia Poets: An Anthology of 33 Contemporaries (1932), Readings in Georgia Literature (1941), and in her own collection, Flagstones and Flowers (1934). She also wrote the words to a song, "Gypsy Music," with music by Bonita Crowe. Lida Wilson Turner had one poem published in Weird Tales, "The Crow" in the June 1930 issue.

The Poet's Garden
by Lida Wilson Turner

I did not write my songs this spring,
I planted them instead.
The ballads that I could not sing
Became a flower bed.

The clever little triolet,
Of musical refrain,
Has bloomed into a violet
Of purple April rain.

The hedges, limited in space,
Are sonnets trimmed with care;
While free verse morning glories race
Their tendrils everywhere.

And when the valley lilies ring
Their clustered bells of white,
In fragrant carillons they bring
The lyrics I would write.

by Lida Wilson Turner

Could I who revel in the sounds of earth
Appreciate the music of a sphere
wheeling regally in endless space?
I, who love the little songs of here?
The sigh of Autumn leaves upon the lawn,
The chorus from a flower bed of bees,
The mating call of birds at nesting time,
A baby's laugh--I am in tune with these.
But music from the universe beyond!
Could I endure such ecstasy of sound?
Or would my roof-tree spirit linger near
Some early harebell ringing close to ground?

Lida Wilson Turner's Poem in Weird Tales
"The Crow" (June 1930)

Further Reading
Lida Wilson Turner's papers exist in a library somewhere, but I'm not sure where. If you can find the books mentioned above, you can read more of her poetry.

Original text copyright 2013 Terence E. Hanley


  1. Denny Lien reports:

    Per WorldCat, her papers are at the Atlanta (GA) History Center:

    Lida Wilson Turner scrapbooks

    Descriptive Summary
    Repository: Kenan Research Center at the Atlanta History Center. 130 West Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta, GA 30305. 404.814.4040.
    Creator: Turner, Lida Wilson
    Title: Lida Wilson Turner scrapbooks
    Dates: 1925-1959, undated
    Quantity: 1.0 linear ft. (1 oversize box)
    Identification: ahc.MSS828

    Biographical/Historical Note

    Lida Wilson was born in Asheville, North Carolina. She married Charles Gainer Turner and moved to Atlanta. She wrote poetry, which won prizes and was published in periodicals and newspapers. In 1934, Mrs. Turner collected her poems into a book, Flagstones and Flowers, published by Oglethorpe University. Mrs. Turner belonged to, and was president of, both the Atlanta Branch of the National League of American Pen Women and the Atlanta Writers Club, during the 1930s. The Turners had one daughter, Virginia Palmer Turner, who attended Oglethorpe University from 1929 to 1933. She was a painter and won prizes. Virginia Turner first married Arthur Renfroe and later Lawrence Avery.
    Scope and Content Note

    This collection consists of four scrapbooks containing poetry, newspaper clippings, photographs, correspondence, and drawings.

  2. Hi, Denny,

    Thanks for the additional information. My source for Lida Wilson Turner's birthplace was the U.S. Census. I guess now we have some conflicting information. A call to the Atlanta History Center might straighten things out. Thanks for writing.