Robert Henry Newell


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(1836–1901), New York journalist and humorist, best known for his comic treatment of contemporary matters in newspapers, written under the pseudonym Orpheus C. Kerr. This name, a pun on the words “Office Seeker,” was suggested by the great number of political aspirants at the time of Lincoln's inauguration and became a stock character for political lampooning. Newell's writings, significant for their comic interpretation of Civil War history, are in the vein of the crackerbox philosophy of Jack Downing, and are marked by mock-heroic jibing at solemnity, gross exaggeration or understatement, and purposeful misspelling. In addition to The Orpheus C. Kerr Papers (5 vols., 1862–71), under his own name Newell wrote sentimental verse; romantic fiction; The Cloven Foot (1870), a continuation of Dickens's unfinished The Mystery of Edwin Drood; and There Was Once a Man (1884), a novel attacking Darwinism. He married Adah Isaacs Menken.

From The Oxford Companion to American Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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