Bill Nye


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(1850–96), better known as Bill Nye, was born in Maine, reared in the frontier country of Wisconsin, and removed to Wyoming Territory (1876), where he was admitted to the bar and edited the Laramie Boomerang (1881–84), a local newspaper. His humorous writings were frequently reprinted and won him international fame. In 1889 he moved east and continued to write in a similar vein for the New York World. His writings were characterized by the loud and obvious humor typical of the period, and he employed such stylistic devices as misquotation, punning, malapropisms, and understatement, all juxtaposed in magnificently deformed sentences. Under his pseudonym, he published a series of very successful books, beginning with Bill Nye and Boomerang (1881). Some of these were compiled from his brief newspaper sketches, while others have a lengthy continuity of subject, as in the comic History of the United States (1894) and History of England (1896). After 1885 his reputation was increased by his humorous lectures, in which he frequently appeared with James Whitcomb Riley.

From The Oxford Companion to American Literature in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Literature.

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