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Works of Artemus Ward

Artemus Ward

Book Overview: 

Charles Farrar Browne, a native of Maine, became famous as a writer and lecturer under the name of Artemus Ward. Like his friend Mark Twain, Browne worked as a type-setter in his youth and in 1858, began publishing a series of letters, essays, and stories told in the first person by a droll, illiterate rube with a good measure of subtle common sense who commented on the events and fads of the day. Taking his character to the stage as a lecturer, Browne became an early-day prototype of what we now name a stand-up comedian. Artemus Ward was such a favorite of President Abraham Lincoln that the chief executive read one of the Ward stories to his assembled cabinet officers before getting down to the business of discussing the proposed Emancipation Proclamation. Browne’s writings became popular in England as well as in America, and he travelled to Britain to perform his Artemus Ward lectures and contribute to the comic magazine Punch. Browne contracted tuberculosis and died at the age of thirty-two in Southampton. (There was a real Artemus Ward, a general in the Continental Army during the American Revolution.)

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .e, sayin they is low and not fit to be patrernized by peplpeple of high degree.  Sirs, I manetane that this is infernul nonsense.  I manetane that wax figgers is more elevatin than awl the plays ever wroten.  Take Shakespeer for instunse.  Peple think heze grate things, but I kontend heze quite the reverse to the kontrary.  What sort of sense is thare to King Leer, who goze round cussin his darters, chawin hay and throin straw at folks, and larfin like a silly old koot and makin a ass of hisself ginerally?  Thare's Mrs. Mackbeth—sheze a nise kind of woomon to have round ain't she, a puttin old Mack, her husband, up to slayin Dunkan with a cheeze knife, while heze payin a frendly visit to their house.  O its hily morral, I spoze, when she larfs wildly and sez, "gin me the daggurs—Ile let his bowels out," or wurds to that effeck—I say, this is awl, strickly, propper I spoze?  That Jack Fawlstarf is likewise a immora. . . Read More

Community Reviews

Humorous observations from travels during the short life of a mid-nineteenth Century American.

Charles Farrar Browne was more of a performer than a writer -- his newspaper columns as "Artemus Ward" first got him noticed, but it's his performances in that persona that made him famous. So there's an oratorical quality to his work that makes it best read out loud, in order to get a sense for...more