Kent Reed Quivorley-Weel II, otherwise known as Kenneth Quivorley, was a 19th century poet, primarily published in the Knickerbocker Magazine and the American Monthly Magazine between 1833-1836. He was a pretty obscure literary figure, but here’s what I’ve managed to find about him. I’m proud to say this is the first time this name has appeared anywhere on the internet, so I take great pride in talking about this erratic character.
He was born in New York City in 1796 to a prominent lawyer, Kent Reed Quivorley Weel, and his second wife, Malina (pronounced Mah-line-ah), who was a socialite during the late 18th-early 19th century. Following his father’s footsteps, he entered law school at the age of 15, outshining his half-siblings and full blooded brother who were also in the profession. Enjoying law school thoroughly, Mr. Quivorley-Weel II (I’ll refer to him as Kenneth from here on out) started his own law firm and managed to secure a position in the 9th circuit court of the New York City legal system. While there, he also managed to gain a position at the Philadelphia custom house, where he would spend his weekends. It seems he truly enjoyed his time at the custom house, as he befriended many key historical figures who passed through for business such as Edgar A. Perry, a gentleman named Ludwig, Frank Forester, etc. (Quivorley’s Journal, 367).
During his time as a lawyer, he worked with other notable figures, such as Duer, Cass, Inman, Herbert, and Percival.* Although Kenneth enjoyed lawyering, he felt his true calling was to be an editor; thus, he juggled his law career alongside editing the now incredibly obscure and undetectable Sartman Graham’s United States Monthly Magazine of Literature, Art, Music, Photography, Sports, Dance, Theatre, etc. It is important to note that he thereafter left his custom house job, complaining that the heat had gotten to him. (Note: I’m in the works of procuring a copy of the magazine mentioned to transcribe for the blog, but we’ll see how that goes.)
Unfortunately, the journal was a flop and survived for only three issues, not even fulfilling the typical Victorian 6 or 12 month volume. Devastated, he sought side work elsewhere once more and landed a job at the newly opened Kirkbride Asylum in town—this was about 1820-something, and Kirkbride’s system was not very well known at this point. It was while working here that he came across several well known poets of the day who urged Kenneth to write. Amongst these poets were Natty Morris and George Willis. And so it began.
Kenneth, according to my sources, would work tirelessly, only sleeping about 3 hours average every night, caught up between his law job, writing poetry, working for the asylum as an assistant, and partaking in smoking, drinking, and hiking when he could. Finally, around 1833, his big break came in the poetry realm, and he cut ties with his law career and asylum career to write poetry full-time. Below you will find one of his four poems featured under his name, of the ones that I’ve been able to find.
While reading his poetry I took note of the nuances in his writing in order to search for other poems. However, I quickly became frustrated because his poems seemed to be so reminiscent of the poet Thomas Moore, I could not detect which gentleman had written which poem. I suspect plagiarism on Quivorley-Weel’s part, but I’ll revisit that at another time. That being said, unless I find other poems under this name, I will only be able to post the four poems and will have to call it quits there.
Unfortunately, Mr. Quivorley-Weel’s poetry career only lasted about three years, as the American Monthly Magazine for 1836 explains that a poem published in their magazine was written by the late Kenneth Quivorley. It’s truly a shame. I feel if he had continued writing, he could have gone on to produce incredible works, such as Wild Scenes in the Forest and Prairie and several other poems including “Sparkling and Bright” and “Monterey.” For now, the late Kenneth Quivorley’s legacy lives on through my blog, and I truly hope you enjoy this poem.
*More can be found in the following text:
NOTE. All of the above that you’ve read is 100% false. While researching the poet and author Charles Fenno Hoffman I happened upon a pseudonym of his, Kenneth Quivorley. The above account is balderdash and should never be referenced outside of this blog. It would be embarrassing. But what is true is that Hoffman, as suggested in my previous statement, wrote under that pseudonym in both 1833 (in the Knickerbocker) and 1836 (in the American Monthly Magazine). The late Kenneth does make his last appearance, so far as I can tell, in the latter. I found it humorous that Hoffman essentially killed off his character, possibly to rid himself of the “burden” of carrying around an alter-ego (or something like that). Anyway, sorry for leading you astray, it won’t happen again.
Here’s a real poem by the real Charles Fenno Hoffman, presented under the pseudonym “Kenneth Quivorley” in the January issue of the Knickerbocker for 1833.
I know thou dost love me—ay! Frown as thou wilt,
And curl that beautiful lip,
Which I never can gaze on without the guilt
Of burning its dew to sip;
I know that my heart is reflected in thine,
And like flowers which over a brook incline,
They toward each other dip.
Though thou lookest so cold in these halls of light,
Mid the careless, proud, and gay,
I will steal like a thief in thy heart at night,
And pilfer its thoughts away;
I will come in thy dreams at the midnight hour,
And thy soul in secret shall own the power
It dares too mock by day.