Ogden Nash

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Updated On January 25, 2022
Baltimore, Maryland
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Baltimore, Maryland

Frederic Ogden Nash was a poet from the United States who was recognized for his light poetry with unusual rhymes. He began scribbling poetry at the age of six and began keeping a diary at the age of fourteen, indicating a poetic bent from an early age. He was a Harvard dropout and a St. George’s School alumnus who worked in a variety of occupations before finding his niche in the publishing industry. He originally gained international notoriety for his book of funny poetry, ‘Hard Lines,’ which he wrote while working in one. He was twenty-nine years old at the time. He quit his job the following year to focus solely on writing. He was equally successful in writing children’s verses, and in his later years, he often wrote about his experiences babysitting his grandchildren. Apart from more than 500 hard-hitting poems that criticized the middleclass pretentious mentality, he was also equally successful in writing children’s verses. He’d also written the screenplays for three MGM films and three Broadway shows, one of which was a great hit. He was well esteemed in literary circles, and his poetry were frequently anthologized in major collections, despite the fact that he largely utilized ordinary terminology, which often included unprintable terms.

Childhood and Adolescence

Frederic Ogden Nash was born in Rye, New York, on August 19, 1902, into an American blue-blooded family with roots dating back to the American Revolutionary War. Abner Nash, his great-great-great grandfather, was Governor of North Carolina, and Abner’s brother Francis founded Nashville.

Edmund Strudwick Nash, Ogden’s father, was a wonderful man. He was only twelve years old when the Civil War broke out in 1865. He felt responsible for his mother and sisters because he was the only man left in the family, and to protect them, he would patrol the family estate with a shotgun.

Edmund moved to New York as he grew older and founded an export-import business. He later married Mattie Chenault, whose father was a classics professor. Eleanor Arnett Whitherell, Shirley Gwendoline Nash, and Frederick Aubrey Nash were the three known siblings of Frederic Ogden, who was born as one of their children.

Because of Edmund’s profession, the family had to relocate frequently. They spent six months in areas like Savannah and Georgia, acquiring resins and other items, which they then sold in New York, where they spent the remainder of the year.

For his time, Ogden enjoyed a typical childhood. He used to despise girls and collect frogs as a kid. His mother taught him proper etiquette as well as the classics at home. He began creating “verses, jingles, and rhymes” at the age of six, which was exceptional.

Despite the fact that it had been planned that when the time came, he would attend a respectable boarding school, the idea had to be abandoned. He was enrolled in a local Rye school after his father’s business took a sharp turn for the worst.

He was then sent to a boarding school in Groton, Massachusetts, when he was ten years old. But he quickly suffered vision problems, so his mother took him out of school and had him tutored at home.

With the outbreak of the First World War, the demand for resin soared, and the family’s fortunes improved as well. His eyes, too, did not cause him any problems, so he enrolled in St. George’s School in Newport County, Rhode Island, in 1917.

Not only did Ogden excel in Latin and French, but he also served on the editorial boards of the school yearbook ‘Lance’ and the literary magazine ‘Dragon.’ He was also a part of the football and baseball first teams at his high school.

Nash graduated from high school in 1920 and enrolled at Harvard University. Unfortunately, the family’s financial situation deteriorated once more. Nash could have worked his way through, but he was tired of conventional schooling, so he dropped out of Harvard in 1921 without finishing his term.

Starting a Career

Despite the fact that he lacked the essential qualifications, Ogden Nash was hired as a French teacher at his old school, St. George. However, he quickly realized that teaching fourteen-year-olds was not his cup of tea, and he left the job after only a year.

Following that, he was able to secure a position with Dillon, Read & Co, a New York-based investment firm. From four o’clock in the evening to midnight, he primarily worked in the mailroom.

He was scheduled to sell bonds at other times, but he only sold one, to his godmother. He did, however, find time to watch a lot of movies and, after two years, decided that he did not want to work there.

The question now was, what did he really want? He pondered starting a novel. He’d written a lot of sonnets about important topics like beauty, truth, and eternity, but he’d decided they weren’t his style. He also considered creating plays, but abandoned that idea.

He then determined that he needed some writing experience, which he discovered in a commercial advertisement. Nash went to work for Barron G. Collier in 1925, where he developed advertising copy for streetcars. Because the company had a New York franchise, his work could be found all throughout the city.

Nash quickly felt dissatisfied with his employment. He was living in a modest apartment on Third Avenue with five other aspiring authors at the time, and one of his roommates was Joseph Alger. They collaborated on a children’s book called ‘The Cricket of Corador.’

The book was published in 1925 by Doubleday, Page & Company, whose advertising manager, Daniel Longwell, was a childhood friend of his. He offered Nash a $90-per-month position, which he immediately accepted.

In the publishing world

Nash began his career in the marketing department before moving on to the editorial department as a manuscript reader. While reading manuscripts, some good, some poor, the desire to write resurfaced in his head. But what should he write?

He began scribbling humorous verses on small pieces of paper and flinging them across the room at his coworkers. ‘Born in a Beer Garden; or, She Troupes to Conquer’ was born of it. The book, which was published in 1930, also included contributions from his colleagues Christopher Morley, Cleon Throckmorton, and Earnest Elmo Calkins.

In 1930, Nash also sent a poem, ‘Spring Comes to Murray Hill,’ to the ‘New Yorker,’ one of the most widely read and recognized journals at the time. They not only published the poem, but also requested more, which Nash readily accepted.

Establishing as a Poet

Following that, Ogden Nash began contributing frequently to the ‘New Yorker,’ and his regular appearance in the magazine led to the publishing of his first book, ‘Hard Lines.’ It was published by Simon & Schuster in 1931 and includes a lot of humorous and sardonic verses.

The book was such a hit that it went through seven printings in its first year. It also received positive feedback from publications such as the ‘Saturday Review of Literature’ and the ‘New York Herald Tribune Books.’ Although the poems appear trivial at first glance, several of them have enormous depths, according to the reviewers.

Nash then abandoned his employment at Doubleday and joined the ‘New Yorker’ in 1932. However, he soon discovered that writing paid him more than his work. As a result, he departed that position within three months, never to return.

He was now completely focused on his writing. ‘Life,’ ‘McCall’s,’ ‘Saturday Evening Post,’ ‘Vogue,’ ‘Harper’s,’ and the ‘New Republic’ continued to publish his work throughout the 1930s and 1940s.

While his poems mostly expressed his dissatisfaction with the American way of life, he also used his clever verses to mock pompous politicians and religious teachings. Critic Charles Poore discovered Nash was still “magnificently unsound” while writing reviews for his 1935 book, “The Primrose Path,” in the New York Times Book Review.

With the birth of his children, he was able to add a new depth to his inventiveness, which resulted in ‘The Bad Parents’ Garden of Verse’ (1936). In one of the poems, ‘Song to be Sung by the Father of Female Infant Children’ he writes, “I never see an infant / A-sleeping in the sun, / Without I turn a little pale / And think, is he the one?”

Films and Broadway productions

He began writing screenplays for Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer pictures in 1936, the first of which was ‘The Firefly,’ released in 1937. Later, he collaborated with Jane Murfin on ‘The Shining Hair’ (1938) and George Oppenheimer and Edmund L. Hartman on ‘The Feminine Touch’ (1941). None of them, however, were big office hits.

He also co-wrote ‘One Touch of Venus’ with Sidney Joseph Perelman at some point. It was a very popular musical based on Thomas Anstey Guthrie’s novella “The Tinted Venus.” It premiered on Broadway in 1943 and played for a total of 567 performances.

He went on to write two more Broadway plays, although nothing was as popular as the first. He began appearing on radio and television shows in the 1940s, and he was a continuous success, albeit less spectacularly.

Books of Ogden Nash

Meanwhile, Ogden Nash continued to write poetry, publishing a number of collections including ‘I’m a Stranger Here Myself’ (1938), ‘The Face is Familiar’ (1940), ‘Good Intentions’ (1942), ‘Many Long Years Ago’ (1945), and ‘Versus’ (1946). (1949). In ‘Many Long Years Ago,’ he expresses anxiety for his health in numerous passages.

Then, beginning in the late 1950s, he resumed publishing a number of children’s novels. Some of his most notable works include ‘The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus’ (1957), ‘Custard the Dragon’ (1959), and ‘Girls are Silly’ (1962).
He suffered from a variety of ailments in his senior years. It inspired him to create a number of poems on medical institutions. These were gathered and published as ‘Bed Riddance: A Posy for the Indisposed’ in 1969. This was his final book, released during his lifetime.

He did, however, have a few other books published before to that. ‘Everyone But Thee and Me’ (1962), ‘Marriage Lines’ (1964), and ‘There’s Always Another Windmill’ (1968) are the most important books written in the 1960s.

Major Projects of Ogden Nash

The majority of Ogden Nash’s works mock the pretensions of modern-day middle-class existence with witty satire. In ‘A Lady Who Thinks She Is Thirty,’ he describes Miranda as “ancient, gray, and unclean” in her eyes because she was “twenty-nine yesterday night/ This morning she is thirty.”

He had, however, created a number of successful poetry in various genres. “To maintain your marriage brimming/ With love in the loving cup/ Whenever you’re wrong, admit it/ Whenever you’re right, shut up,” he says in “A Word to Husbands.”

“Go hang yourself…,” he instructs an M.D. in the poem “Common Cold.” I didn’t call to inform you that I have a common cold.” He dedicated twenty-four letters of the alphabet to twenty-four historic Major League Baseball players in ‘Line-Up for Yesterday: An ABC of Baseball Immortals.’

Personal History and Legacy

Ogden Nash married Frances Leonard in 1931. Isabel Nash Eberstadt and Linell Nash Smith were the couple’s two daughters. Fernanda Eberstadt, one of his granddaughters, went on to become a well-known author.

They started off in New York. In 1934, however, the family relocated to Baltimore, Maryland. He considered the city to be his home and spent the remainder of his life there. “I could have liked New York if I hadn’t loved Balti-more,” he eventually said.

Nash got Crohn’s disease, an inflammatory bowel illness, towards the end of his life. When his health was exacerbated by a lactobacillus infection in 1971, he was admitted to the Johns Hopkins Hospital and died there on May 19.

On August 19, 2002, the United States Postal Service issued a postage stamp with his portrait and text from six of his poems: “The Turtle,” “The Cow,” “Crossing The Border,” “The Kitten,” “The Camel,” and “Limerick One.”

Estimated Net Worth

Ogden Nash’s net worth was estimated to be between $1 and $5 million before he died, according to Wikipedia, Forbes, IMDb, and other online sources. As a professional poet, he was able to make money. He is a New Yorker.