Guy Wetmore Carryl was born this day in New York City in 1873. He died there in 1904, far too soon, but perhaps somewhat aptly, on April Fool's Day. Carryl had had a short but productive career as a humorist, satirist, and poet, often taking inspiration from such literary lights as Aesop, Mother Goose, the Brothers Grimm, and Jean de La Fontaine. He published six books between 1898 and 1904, two of them posthumously: The Garden of Years and Far from the Maddening Girls. Some of his titles sound a bit naughty, like Mother Goose for Grown-Ups (1900) and Grimm Tales Made Gay (1902). In "The Embarrassing Episode of Little Miss Muffet," the reader is delightfully instructed as follows: "And the Moral is this: Be it madam or miss / To whom you have something to say / You are only absurd when you get in the curd / But you're rude when you get in the whey." Indeed, Carryl's jokes were not always G-rated. He attended Columbia University and wrote the college's first "Varsity Show," by which means he managed to ruffle the feathers of Harry Thurston Peck with his wry, if not overtly feminist, observation that "it takes two bodies to make one seduction." Ironically enough, Professor Peck was later sued for breach of promise, and although nothing was ever proven, he found himself at the center of a scandal involving three women (and their bodies) from which he never really recovered. There were 423 cases of our combination typo in OhioLINK today, and "too many records found for your search" in WorldCat.
(Cover of Fables for the Frivolous by Guy Wetmore Carryl, with illustrations by Peter Newell, 1898, from Wikimedia Commons.)
Friday, March 4, 2016
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