Birth of Ogden Nash

Birth of Ogden Nash

US #3659 – Nash was the 18th honoree in the Literary Arts Series. Click image to order.

Ogden Nash was born on August 19, 1902, in Rye, New York.

Nash was descended from Abner Nash, a governor of North Carolina whose brother, Francis, was a Revolutionary War general and the namesake of Nashville, Tennessee.  Nash’s father ran an import-export business and moved the family often. 

From the time he was six years old, Nash loved to rhyme.  He also liked to make up his own words whenever he couldn’t find a word that rhymed.  Nash attended St. George’s School in Newport County, Rhode Island before going to Harvard University.  However, he had to drop out after a year when his father’s finances declined.

US #3659 – Classic First Day Cover. Click image to order.

Nash taught at St. George’s for a year before moving back to New York where he sold bonds.  He then got a job writing ads for streetcars for Barron Collier.  From there Nash found work as an editor at Doubleday.  Starting in 1930, he began publishing some of his poems in The New Yorker.  The paper’s editor quickly asked for more, saying, “They are about the most original stuff we have had lately.” 

Nash married in 1931, and that same year he published his first collection of poems, Hard Lines, which sold out an amazing seven printings in its first year.  In 1933, Nash decided to write full time.

US #3659 – Fleetwood Plate Block First Day Cover. Click image to order.

Moving to Baltimore in 1934, Nash worked at home, jotting words on little note pads scattered about the house.  He drew his inspiration from his own life and family.  Nash wrote light-hearted, whimsical, and sometimes nonsensical verses.  He often used an extremely large poetic license to create comical rhymes and puns.  Nash’s poems make people laugh, but they also contain some truths of human experience.  Nash’s verses about animals were some of the most popular and showed his playful use of words.

US #3659 – Mystic First Day Cover. Click image to order.

During his lifetime, Nash wrote more than 500 poems and published 19 books of poetry.  He also wrote the lyrics for the 1943 musical comedy, One Touch of Venus, and the 1952 revue Two’s Company.  He was nationally known and appeared on comedy shows and lectured throughout the country.

Nash died on May 19, 1971, at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore from complications from Crohn’s disease.  In his obituary, The New York Times called Nash “the country’s best-known producer of humorous poetry.” 

US #3659 – Silk Cachet First Day Cover.  Click image to order.

The Ogden Nash Stamp

The Ogden Nash stamp was issued on his 100th birthday at his Baltimore home.  Six of his poems appear in the background of the stamp:  “The Turtle,” “The Cow,” “Crossing the Border,” “The Kitten,” “Limerick One,” and “The Camel.”

Click here to read some of Nash’s poems.

Click here to see what else happened on This Day in History.

Did you like this article? Click here to rate:
[Total: 17 Average: 4.7]

Share this article

4 responses to "Birth of Ogden Nash"

4 thoughts on “Birth of Ogden Nash”

  1. My mother enjoyed a ceramic purple cow on the fireplace mantle which had a card dangling around its neck with the following note by Mr. Nash:
    “I never saw a purple cow, I never wish to see one
    But I will tell you anyhow, I’d rather see than be one.”
    This limerick has stuck with me for over 60 years.

  2. If at his poetry you cannot laugh
    Use the link above
    Laughing out loud, you will see
    You just can’t get enough.


Leave a Comment

Love history?

Discover events in American history – plus the stamps that make them come alive.

Subscribe to get This Day in History stories straight to your inbox every day!