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Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

BROWNE, CHARLES FARRAR [ARTEMUS WARD, PSEUD.]

BROWNE, CHARLES FARRAR [ARTEMUS WARD, PSEUD.]

BROWNE, CHARLES FARRAR [ARTEMUS WARD, PSEUD.] (26 Apr. 1834-6 Mar. 1867), a nationally known journalist and humorist, spent only 3 years in Cleveland but here invented his alter ego "Artemus Ward." Born in Waterford, Maine, to Levi and Caroline Farrar Brown, he moved to Ohio in 1854, working for papers in Tiffin and Toledo before JOSEPH W. GRAY recruited him for the PLAIN DEALER on 30 Oct. 1857.

Browne's first "Artemus Ward" letter appeared in the Plain Dealer on 30 Jan. 1858. Ostensibly written from Pittsburgh by an itinerant showman and waxworks proprietor, it requested information and publicity for a forthcoming Cleveland appearance and closed with the tag line, "P.S pitsburg is a 1 horse town. A.W." Further communications traced Ward's peregrinations over the next 2 years. Turning his humor to other subjects, such as the "three tigers of Cleveland journalism" (JOSEPH W. GRAY, GEO. A. BENEDICT, and JOSIAH A. HARRIS), Browne began sending copies of his material to Vanity Fair in New York, leading to friction with Gray, who wanted Browne's exclusive services but declined to pay Browne what he thought he was worth. They parted on 10 Nov. 1860.

Browne became editor of Vanity Fair; lectured as Artemus Ward; and published Artemus Ward: His Book in May 1862, from which Abraham Lincoln entertained his cabinet prior to announcing issuance of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation. Nothing came of Browne's offer to purchase the Plain Dealer after Gray's death, and Browne died of tuberculosis on the Isle of Jersey while lecturing in England. Never married, Browne was buried in Waterford, Maine.


Shaw, Archer H. The Plain Dealer: One Hundred Years in Cleveland (1942).