Robert Service, Pioneering Writer of the North
Robert W. Service (1874-1958), a British-born poet and author of Scottish heritage, felt compelled to leave his home country to explore the Alaskan wilderness, after relocating to North America.
Watch our video that gives a brief introduction to his role in Skagway as “the Bard of the Yukon”: https://youtu.be/DOvJN5KHAnA.
Read about his personal history, and his Dawson City cabin here: https://www.yukoninfo.com/dawson-city-yukon/robert-service-the-bard-of-the-yukon.
Read more at poets.org and https://www.britannica.com/biography/Robert-W-Service.
In the late 19th century, the small but bustling town of Skagway, in southeast Alaska, was once a gateway destination for scores of fortune-seekers striving to strike gold to benefit impoverished families they left behind. They endured a treacherous journey during an historic trek known as the Klondike Gold Rush, which had a low survival rate. Read more about its history here: https://www.nps.gov/articles/klgo-skagway-tourism.htm.
Skagway has kept Robert Service’s memory as the poet of the Yukon alive through special events and programs, though the pandemic era severely impacted these opportunities. At this point, the most reliable remnants travelers can find are copies of his books that are available for purchase in several local shops, particularly those that are locally owned.
In present day, the town is known for attracting approximately a million visitors each summer, up from the original 60 tourists from Boston in 1898, according to https://www.nps.gov/articles/klgo-skagway-tourism.htm.
Read about the town’s current and ongoing offerings here: https://skagway.com/play.
The Writer’s Works
As you travel to this well-preserved historic town, check out Robert W. Service’s poetic writing style in the free e-book, Trail of ’98, available from https://www.gutenberg.org. Links to many of his poems can be found here: https://www.internal.org/Robert_W_Service.
“Write verse, not poetry. The public wants verse. If you have a talent for poetry, then don’t by any means mother it, but try your hand at verse.” — Robert W. Service
On the Path
Skagway is the third stop on our Alaska Author Adventures Trail.