- 时间1849 - 1916
詹姆斯·惠特科姆·莱利于1849年10月9日出生在印第安纳州格林菲尔德的一个小木屋里，父母是当地律师鲁本·a·莱利和他的妻子伊丽莎白(海军)·莱利。他的父母以印第安纳州州长詹姆斯·惠特科姆的名字给他命名。詹姆斯·惠特科姆·莱利是他们的第三个孩子。21岁之前，他一直住在同一处房产里。莱利受到了许多拜访他父亲家的人的影响。尤其值得一提的是，他能够学会印第安纳州中部方言的抑扬顿挫以及老国道沿线的旅行者的方言特点，这在他后来创作的许多诗歌中都有体现。其中一位特别的访客是玛丽·爱丽丝·史密斯，她最终留下来和莱利一家住在一起。玛丽·爱丽丝(“艾丽”)·史密斯对莱利的诗歌《小孤儿安妮》产生了影响，这首诗原本叫《小孤儿艾丽》，但由于排字工人的错误而改变了名字。莱利从来都不是一个好学生。在他16岁辍学之前，一位以前的老师鼓励他欣赏自然。 He attempted to study law in his father's law office, however he found that the law was not for him, whereupon he took several different jobs in rapid succession. Riley wrote his first poem in 1870 when he was 21. He began writing for several newspapers, eventually working for the Indianapolis Journal in Indianapolis, Indiana writing miscellaneous articles, versifying whenever possible. Riley's big break came with the private publishing of a thousand copies of The Old Swimmin' Hole and 'Leven More Poems in 1883 under the pseudonym of "Benjamin F. Johnson, of Boone". The book rapidly sold all of the first printing, causing Indianapolis book publisher Merrill, Meigs and Company to quickly contract with Riley to publish the second edition of The Old Swimmin' Hole and 'Leven More Poems. Riley continued to work with the publishing company which eventually became Bowen-Merrill and finally Bobbs-Merrill. The 1886 publishing The Boss Girl began to publish new Riley literature regularly. As a result he began to tour the United States giving lectures, starting in the mid-1880s. In 1893 he was invited to live at the residence of Charles and Magdalena Holstein within the Indianapolis neighborhood of Lockerbie. He would call this his permanent residence for the last 23 years of his life, although he eventually purchased his childhood home, and allowed his brother, John Riley, to live there.