George Marion McClellan
Born in Belfast, Tennessee, the minister, teacher, writer, and poet George Marion McClellan received a BA and an MA from Fisk University and a bachelor of divinity from Hartford Theological Seminary. He married Mariah Augusta Rabb in 1888 and served as a minister in a Nashville, Tennessee, Congregational church from 1892 to 1894.
After his time as a minister, McClellan pursued a career as a teacher and principal at schools in Louisville and Los Angeles. A difficult period in his personal life followed the death of one of his sons and was further complicated by financial difficulty, marital conflict, and a sense of alienation fostered by a society divided sharply along racial lines.
McClellan’s poetry, composed from the 1880s onward, shows a sensitive ear to meter and rhyme and addresses religion, nature, and romantic love while only occasionally revealing an emotional struggle against racial discrimination. He is perhaps best remembered for his blank-verse epic, “The Legend of Tannhauser and Elizabeth.”
McClellan published two collections of poetry: Poems (1895), which was retitled Songs of a Southerner in 1896, and The Path of Dreams (1916). A favorable review of his work, comparing his skill to that of Paul Laurence Dunbar appeared in the New York Times after his poetry was included in a 1901 exhibit at the Pan-American Exposition.