William E. Ellis
Irvin S. Cobb
The Rise and Fall of an American Humorist
University Press of Kentucky 2017
Today Irvin S. Cobb is remembered primarily as an author of humorous tales about life in Kentucky. Yet as William E. Ellis describes in his book Irvin S. Cobb: The Rise and Fall of an American Humorist (University Press of Kentucky, 2017), these stories reflected only a portion of his considerable literary output. Born in Paducah, Cobb got his start as a journalist working for the local papers. After moving to New York in 1904 he was hired at the New York World, for which he wrote a steady output of articles and humorous columns. The need for money contributed to Cobb’s move into short story writing, resulting in a number of works that are regarded as classics of their type. By the 1920s Cobb was one of the leading literary figures in America, though as Ellis explains his involvement with movie-making and radio dissipated his energies and contributed to the decline in the quality of his work in his later years.