Billings, Josh

Billings, Josh, pseud. of Henry Wheeler Shaw, 1818–85, American humorist and lecturer, b. Lanesboro, Mass. After a roving life as farmer, explorer, and coal miner, he settled in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., as an auctioneer and real estate dealer. In 1860 he began to write humorous sketches and homespun philosophies in rural dialect and soon became a popular lecturer. His first collection was Josh Billings: His Sayings (1869), but his best humor was published in his annual Farmer's Allminax (1869–80).

See study by D. B. Kesterson (1974).

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