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"An Autobiography" from Saturday Evening Post

by Ellis Parker Butler
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from Saturday Evening Post
An Autobiography
by Ellis Parker Butler

Who is this Ellis Parker Butler that I am? Conceited, no doubt, or he would not have chosen to begin his career with a three-part name. Conceited, and therefore touchy. Parts his hair in the middle -- see cut at the foot of this column -- which is a sign he thinks well of himself. Ambitious, too, or why would he care to be vice president of a bank and a fusser in New York politics when his career is cut out to be that of a writer of fiction? Mentally lazy, I imagine, too, or he would have followed up Pigs is Pigs with hit after hit until he was a new Mark Twain.

Funny guy, this I that I am! This I that I am feels as young as a boy and yet he was born in 1869. He was born at Muscatine, on the Mississippi, but likes lakes better than rivers; likes hills better than prairies. He is an author and has never even thought of being divorced. He would rather write than do anything else, and yet he is always neglecting his writing to do something else. He would rather write humor than serious matter, and yet he is always trying a new serious story, while the world is full of writers of serious stories and needs humorists. He owns bank stock, Liberty Bonds and one thing after another, and he is always in debt and "hard up." One trouble with him is that he is everybody's friend but his own. I begin to think so.

Ellis Parker Butler

He can remember any unimportant thing, but forgets the date of his wedding day and his wife's birthday. He has four children and can remember which is the oldest and which the youngest, but can never remember their ages. He picks out a good age for each and sticks to it for three or four years. He has seven brothers and sisters, and when he tried to give their ages to an insurance agent, beginning with the oldest, he missed it so badly that the youngest two had to be put down as not yet born.

He owns too much house and it has too little paint on it. He prefers to write with a pen and does all his writing on a typewriter. He detests figures and is always being made treasurer of things. He never goes to church and has just written a novel that is a plea for caring properly for elderly ministers. It annoys and angers him to have stipulated duties to perform and he is always accepting new ones. He is bashful and in agony when before an audience and he is everlastingly making public speeches. And don't have to!

He is violently American and has never met a German -- with one single exception -- that he did not like. He is always keeping long appointments with people who bore him and postponing meetings with people he enjoys.

Now, why? Why? Why?

His ancestors were English, Scotch, Irish and -- they say the Gazzams were -- Jews. When the Scotch thrift buys a house for him the Irish go-easiness lets the paint peel off. When the English common sense tells him to keep down to business, the Jewish idealism makes him treasurer of a hospital. When the Irish humor asks to be written the English matter-of-factness says "Do something realistic." And there you are, and there he is, and he is satisfied and happy, and so will you be when you come to the next period, which is right here.



Saturday, October 07 at 1:05:21am USA Central
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