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Edgar Wilson "Bill" Nye

Edgar W. "Bill" Nye from Who-When-What Book, 1900
Born August 25, 1850(1850-08-25)
Shirley, Maine
Died February 22, 1896 (aged 45)
Arden, North Carolina
Nationality United States
Occupation journalist, humorist

Edgar Wilson "Bill" Nye (August 25, 1850 – February 22, 1896) was a distinguished American journalist, who later became widely known as a humorist. He was also the founder and editor of the Laramie Boomerang.

Nye was born in Shirley, Maine, and adopted the name "Bill Nye" after a character in a famous poem by Bret Harte.

The Boomerang was founded while Nye was the postmaster of Laramie City, Wyoming Territory. It launched him to national fame, gaining subscribers in every state and some foreign countries. His humor was uniquely American. In 1892, he wrote in The Century magazine:

There is a grim and ghastly humor -- the humor that is born of a pathetic philosophy -- which now and then strikes me in reading the bright and keen-witted work of our American paragraphers. It is a humor that may be crystallized by hunger and sorrow and tears. It is not found elsewhere as it is in America. It is out of the question in England, because an Englishman cannot poke fun at himself. He cannot joke about an empty flour-barrel. We can: especially if by doing it we may swap the joke for another barrel of flour. We can never be a nation of snobs so long as we are willing to poke fun at ourselves.

Some of his works include Bill Nye's Comic History of the United States, Baled Hay, Remarks, Bill Nye and Boomerang, Bill Nye's History of England, and Bill Nye's Red Book.

Late in his career, he was briefly associated with James Whitcomb Riley with whom he wrote two books. They also appeared together on the lecture circuit. He also travelled and lectured with Luther Burbank.

He died of meningitis in Arden, North Carolina. He is buried in Calvary Episcopal Churchyard in Fletcher, Henderson County, North Carolina. A historical marker honoring him is located in St. Croix County, Wisconsin, between the towns of Roberts and River Falls. A small monument marks his birthplace in Shirley, Maine.

References

  • Maine League of Historical Societies and Museums (1970). Doris A. Isaacson. ed. Maine: A Guide 'Down East'. Rockland, Me: Courier-Gazette, Inc.. pp. 376–377.  

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Quotes

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Edgar Wilson "Bill" Nye (18501896) was a distinguished American journalist, who later became widely known as a humorist. He was also the founder and editor of the Laramie Boomerang.

Sourced

  • There is a grim and ghastly humor -- the humor that is born of a pathetic philosophy -- which now and then strikes me in reading the bright and keen-witted work of our American paragraphers. It is a humor that may be crystallized by hunger and sorrow and tears. It is not found elsewhere as it is in America. It is out of the question in England, because an Englishman cannot poke fun at himself. He cannot joke about an empty flour-barrel. We can: especially if by doing it we may swap the joke for another barrel of flour. We can never be a nation of snobs so long as we are willing to poke fun at ourselves.
    • The Century magazine (1892)

Attributed

  • The peculiar characteristic of classical music is that it is really better than it sounds.
    • A stand-up line quoted in 1888.
    • Variant: Wagner's music is better than it sounds. (Attested in an obituary; see The Quote Verifier)

External links

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1911 encyclopedia

Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From LoveToKnow 1911

EDGAR WILSON NYE (1850-1896), American humorist, was born at Shirley, Maine, on the 25th of August 1850. His parents removed to a farm on the St Croix river in northern Wisconsin in 1852, and young Nye was educated in Wisconsin at the academy at River Falls, where he studied law. In 1876 he was admitted to the bar at Laramie, Wyoming, where he served as justice of the peace, superintendent of schools, member of the city council and postmaster. Here he began to contribute humorous articles under the pseudonym of "Bill Nye" to newspapers, especially the Cheyenne Sun and the Denver Tribune. In 1881 he founded at Laramie the Boomerang, and his reputation as a humorist was soon widespread. Later he became a successful lecturer, and in 1885, with James Whitcomb Riley, the poet, made an extended tour through the country, each reading from his own writings. Nye removed to New York City in 1886, and passed the later years of his life at Arden, a village in Buncombe county, North Carolina (about io m. south of Asheville), xtx. 30 where he died on the 22nd of February 1896. His principal books are Bill Nye and Boomerang (1881); Forty Liars and Other Lies (1882); Nye and Riley's Railway Guide (1886), with James Whitcomb Riley; and two comic histories, Bill Nye's History of the United States (1894) and Bill Nye's History of England from the Druids to the Reign of VIII. (1896).


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