Caroline Elizabeth “Bessie” <I>Anderson</I> Stanley

Caroline Elizabeth “Bessie” Anderson Stanley

Birth
Newton, Jasper County, Iowa, USA
Death 2 Oct 1952 (aged 73)
Kansas City, Wyandotte County, Kansas, USA
Burial Lincoln, Lincoln County, Kansas, USA
Memorial ID 17061913 · View Source
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In 1905, a Lincoln native named Bessie Stanley wrote an essay for a contest entitled "What Constitutes Success?" and to her surprise she won the $250 prize. Since then, this piece has been credited to Robert Louis Stevenson and Ralph Waldo Emerson, among others, but the writer was Lincoln's own Bessie Stanley.

This is a photo of her tombstone in Lincoln Cemetery, which is inscribed with her essay. It reads:

"He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth's beauty or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory a benediction."

Lincoln Sentinel, Nov. 30, 1905

"What Constitutes Success"

A $250 Prize Story by a Lincoln Woman

A few weeks ago Mrs. A.J. Stanley at the earnest solicitation of Mr. Stanley wrote an essay on "What constitutes success" for entrance in a contest carried on by the George Livingston Richards Co. of Boston, Mass. It was required that the essay should be confined to 100 words and should be the best definition of what constituted success, neatness and several of the requirements being taken into consideration. The essay was entered in competition with hundreds of others from all parts of the country. Last Saturday when Mrs. Stanley was notified that she had won the first prize of $250 she did not credit the good news and laughing told Mr. Stanley he could have half. An accompanying draft furnished satisfactory proof. Below we give Mrs. Stanley's essay on "What Constitutes Success."

"He has achieved success who has lived well, laughed often and loved much; who has gained the respect of intelligent men and the love of little children; who has filled his niche and accomplished his task; who has left the world better than he found it, whether by an improved poppy, a perfect poem, or a rescued soul; who has never lacked appreciation of earth's beauty or failed to express it; who has always looked for the best in others and given them the best he had; whose life was an inspiration; whose memory a benediction."

Lincoln Sentinel-Republican, Nov. 5, 1953

Some weeks ago, Judge R.W. Greene called attention to the definition of "Success" which appeared in the October Readers' Digest, and which was credited to Robert Louis Stevenson.

The quotation, of course, belongs to Mrs. A. J. Stanley. Mrs. Stanley wrote it about fifty years ago, and after her death a few years ago, Mr. Stanley had it engraved on her monument in the Lincoln cemetery.

Judge Greene recently received a letter from the Readers' Digest, explaining how the mistake happened to be made. It is interesting to note that others, too, realized that a mistake in authorship had been made and wrote to the magazine.

The letter to Judge Greene follows:

Dear Mr. Greene:

Thank you for your letter prompted by the definition of success printed in our October issue and attributed to Robert Louis Stevenson. This short essay came to us on a Christmas card, which credited Stevenson with the authorship although the specific source was not mentioned.

Since the October issue appeared, however, we have heard from a number of readers who pointed out that the lines should have been credited to the late Mrs. A.J. Stanley of Lincoln, Kan. We are sorry about this slip-up. It is quite a tribute to Mrs. Stanley's definition that so many should recall both the lines and their authorship. Clearly the little essay touches a responsive chord in many hearts.



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  • Created by: Susan Lewis Arday
  • Added: 17 Dec 2006
  • Find A Grave Memorial 17061913
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Caroline Elizabeth “Bessie” Anderson Stanley (25 Mar 1879–2 Oct 1952), Find A Grave Memorial no. 17061913, citing Lincoln Cemetery, Lincoln, Lincoln County, Kansas, USA ; Maintained by Susan Lewis Arday (contributor 46576010) .