Biography of Carolyn Wells
Carolyn Wells (June 18, 1862–March 26, 1942) was an American author and poet (born in Rahway, New Jersey, the daughter of William E. and Anna Wells.She died at the Flower-Fifth Avenue Hospital in New York City in 1942.
She had been married to Hadwin Houghton, the heir of the Houghton-Mifflin publishing empire founded by Bernard Houghton. Wells also had an impressive collection of volumes of poetry by others. She bequeathed her collection of Walt Whitman poetry, said to be one of the most important of its kind for its completeness and rarity, to the Library of Congress (New York Times, Apr. 16, 1942).
After finishing school she worked as a librarian for the Rahway Library Association. Her first book, At the Sign of the Sphinx (1896), was a collection of charades. Her next publications were The Jingle Book and The Story of Betty (1899), followed by a book of verse entitled Idle Idyls (1900). After 1900, Wells wrote numerous novels and collections of poetry.
Carolyn Wells wrote a total of more than 170 books. During the first ten years of her career, she concentrated on poetry, humor, and children's books. According to her autobiography, The Rest of My Life (1937), around 1910 she heard one of Anna Katherine Green's mystery novels being read aloud and was immediately captivated by the unravelling of the puzzle. From that point onward, she devoted herself to the mystery genre. Among the most famous of her mystery novels were the Fleming Stone Detective Stories which—according to Allen J. Hubin's Crime Fiction IV: A Comprehensive Bibliography, 1749–2000 (2003)—number 61 titles.
Today, however, she is best known for her light verse, particularly for several classic limericks, including this one:
A canner exceedingly canny
One morning remarked to his granny:
“A canner can can
Any thing that he can
But a canner can’t can a can, can he?”
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Carolyn Wells Poems
There lived in ancient Scribbletown a wise old writer-man, Whose name was Homer Cicero Demosthenes McCann.
The Poster Girl's Defence
It was an Artless Poster Girl pinned up against my wall, She was tremendous ugly, she was exceeding tall; I was gazing at her idly, and I think I must have slept,
The Two Friends
A Spider and a Centipede went out to take a walk; The Centipede said frankly, 'I will listen while you talk,
The Erratic Rat
There was a ridiculous Rat Who was awfully puffy and fat. 'I'll carry,' he said, 'This plate on my head,
A Great Lady
This is the Queen of Nonsense Land, She wears her bonnet on her hand; She carpets her ceilings and frescos her floors,
A Bicycle Built For Two
There was an ambitious young eel Who determined to ride on a wheel; But try as he might, He couldn't ride right,
A Canner Exceedingly Canny
A canner exceedingly canny One morning remarked to his granny:
An Intercepted Valentine
Little Bo-Peep, will you be mine? I want you for my Valentine. You are my choice of all the girls,
The Butter Betty Bought
Betty Botta bought some butter; 'But,' said she, 'this butter's bitter! If I put it in my batter It will make my batter bitter.
The Two Bears
Prince Curlilocks remarked one day To Princess Dimplecheek, 'I haven't had a real good play For more than 'most a week.'
An Alphabet Zoo
A was an apt Alligator, Who wanted to be a head-waiter; He said, 'I opine In that field I could shine,
A Day Dream
Polly's patchwork--oh, dear me!-- Truly is a sight to see. Rumpled, crumpled, soiled, and frayed-- Will the quilt be ever made?
A Valuable Gift
Old Father Time, one day In his study, so they say, Was indulging in a surreptitious nap, When from his drowsy dreams
Ten Christmas presents standing in a line; Robert took the bicycle, then there were nine. Nine Christmas presents ranged in order straight;
A Day Dream
Polly's patchwork--oh, dear me!--
Truly is a sight to see.
Rumpled, crumpled, soiled, and frayed--
Will the quilt be ever made?
See the stitches yawning wide--
Can it be that Polly _tried_?
Some are right and some are wrong,
Some too short and some too long,