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By John Batteiger
Copyright (c) 2015-2021

July 29, 1878: Robert Perry Marquis born in Walnut, Bureau County, Illinois, the seventh child of James Stuart Marquis and Virginia Whitmore Marquis. Within a year his family had taken to calling him Don; the new name sticks.

May 31, 1894: Graduates from Walnut High School.

Fall 1896: Attends Knox College Academy in Galesburg, Illinois, for three months, then returns home and finds works variously as a schoolteacher and newspaper typesetter.

January 1900: Moves to Washington, D.C., to take job at U.S. Census Bureau. Part-time work as a reporter for The Washington Times becomes a full-time job when the Census work winds down.

1902: Leaves Washington for a job at the Philadelphia North American, but his time there is exceedingly brief. By November he is in Atlanta as an editorial writer at the Atlanta News. A year later he is on the staff of the Atlanta Journal. 

February 1907: Joins the fledgling staff of Joel Chandler Harris’s new Uncle Remus’s Magazine. Don is associate editor and writes editorials, short stories, book reviews and a monthly column. 

June 8, 1909: Marries Reina Melcher, a freelance writer for Uncle Remus’s Magazine, in Atlanta.

November 1909: Moves to New York City.

January 1912: After a year at The Brooklyn Eagle, Don joins The Evening Sun as editor of a magazine page. Within a few months he is writing an occasional column on the editorial page, Notes and Comment.

April 4, 1913: Don’s byline added to his daily Notes and Comment column. Three days later the column is renamed The Sun Dial.

Nov. 7, 1915: Son Robert Stuart Donald Marquis born.

March 29, 1916: First mention of Archy the cockroach in The Sun Dial column.

Sept. 13, 1918: Daughter Barbara Reina Teresa Marquis born

Feb. 15, 1921: Son Robert dies.

Aug. 22, 1922: “The Old Soak” opens on Broadway and runs for 334 performances. 

Sept. 12, 1922: Leaves The Sun for the New York Tribune. Don’s column is initially called The Tower before being renamed The Lantern.

Dec. 2, 1923: Reina Marquis dies unexpectedly at the family home in Forest Hills, Queens.

July 8, 1925: Don’s last Lantern column in the New York Herald Tribune as he embarks on a career as a playwright and short story writer.

Feb. 2, 1926: Marries Marjorie Potts Vonnegut.

Nov. 4, 1927: “archy and mehitabel” published by Doubleday Page.

September 1930: Moves with his family to Hollywood, accepts a screenwriting job at Fox studios.

Oct. 24, 1931: Daughter Barbara, always a sickly child, dies in Hollywood.

July 1932: Returns to New York by car. amid preparations for “The Dark Hours,” which opens on Broadway Nov. 14, 1932, and closes after just eight performances.

Oct. 27, 1932: Stricken blind while playing pool at The Players club. News accounts blame stress and overwork amid rehearsals for his Broadway play “The Dark Hours.” Marquis gradually recovers his sight but is confined to bed when the play opens Nov. 14, 1932. It closes after eight performances.

Feb. 2, 1936: Suffers a debilitating stroke.

Oct. 25, 1936: Wife Marjorie dies.

Dec. 29, 1937: Dies at his home in Forest Hills, Queens, New York.



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