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Charles Farrar Browne, better known as Artemus Ward, was a consummate humorist and represented a type of literature distinctively American. Ward was born in Waterford, Maine on April 26, 1834 and passed prematurely from tuberculosis in Southampton, England on March 6, 1867. He went to school in his native town of Waterford and at the age of fourteen was apprenticed in the printing office of "The Skowhegan Clarion”. A year later he was employed in a similar capacity on "The Carpet-Bag" of Boston, edited by B.P. Shillaber (Mrs. Partington), and to which Charles G. Halpine (Miles O'Reilly) and John G. Saxe were at that time contributors.
Ward's early Years
While working at The Carpet Bag, Ward, still going by the name of Browne, published his first humorous article, a burlesque description of a Fourth of July celebration in Skowhegan. After his Boston experience, Browne traveled the Eastern States as a journeyman printer, sojourning for a while in the town of Tiffin, Ohio, where he worked as a reporter and compositor. Moving on to Toledo, Browne contributed to the columns of "The Commercial,” a local publication. At this time, Browne’s reputation as a witty writer was beginning to grow. This reputation brought about vigorous criticism in a series of articles in "The Toledo Blade,” however; Browne chose to treat his opponents with unwavering courtesy and humor.
Ward the Writer
In 1858, at the age of twenty-four, Browne moved on to “The Cleveland Plain Dealer” and began to write under the pen name of "Artemus Ward". Artemus Ward received great acclaim for his work during this period, which consisted of burlesque descriptions of prize-fights, races, spiritualistic séances, and political meetings. By the end of 1860, Ward accepted a position in New York as an editor with "Vanity Fair", a comic paper edited after the manner of the London "Punch." The position was prestigious for a 26 year-old young man, especially since Ward would be succeeding the much-respected editor Charles G. Leland (Hans Breitmann). It was in this position, and publication, that many of Ward’s greatest contributions to humorist literature were delivered to the public. However, it was as a lecturer that "Artemus Ward" acquired both the fame and fortune that warrant his being subject to a college level literature research paper. Some of his more famous books are:
- Artemus Ward His Book
- Artemus Ward His Panorama
- Artemus Ward among the Mormons
- Artemus Ward in London