b. Frederick Ogden Nash, 19 August 1902, Rye, New York, USA, d. 19 May 1971, Baltimore, Maryland, USA. A descendent of General Francis Nash, after whom is named Nashville, Tennessee, Ogden was raised in various towns, a result of his father’s peripatetic job. Although well educated, financial pressure forced Nash to drop out of Harvard University in 1921 after which he took various posts before entering publishing in 1925. This was the year his first book for children appeared, The Cricket Of Caradon, written in collaboration with Joseph Alger. In 1930 his first humorous poem, ‘Spring Comes To Murray Hill’, appeared in New Yorker and two years later the magazine hired him. Over the following years he published 19 books of poetry, becoming an acclaimed master of comic verse. Among his books are Hard Lines, The Bad Parent’s Garden Of Verse, I’m A Stranger Here Myself, Good Intentions, Many Long Years Ago, Parents Keep Out, Elderly Poems For Young Readers, The Private Dining Room, You Can’t Get There From Here, The Christmas That Almost Wasn’t, Everyone But Thee And Me, Custard The Dragon, Marriage Lines: Notes Of A Student Husband, The Untold Adventures Of Santa Claus, There’s Always Another Windmill, Bed Riddance, and The Old Dog Barks Backwards, the latter published the year after Nash’s death.
In 1943 Nash collaborated with S.J. Perelman on the book and lyrics for the musical comedy, One Touch Of Venus, with music composed by Kurt Weill. Among the songs were ‘I’m A Stranger Here Myself’, ‘How Much I Love You’, ‘Foolish Heart’, ‘The Trouble With Women’, and the exceptional and enduring ‘Speak Low’. The show was staged at the Imperial Theatre, New York, where it ran for 322 performances. Although he had made his living as a writer of verse since the mid-30s, a remarkable achievement in itself, Nash also appeared on radio, travelled the literary lecture circuit in the USA and UK, and wrote for television. He received many honours in his lifetime, including honorary degrees and elected membership of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP), and the National Institute of Arts and Letters. In 2002 the US postal authorities honoured the centennial of Nash’s birth with his depiction on a 37¢ commemorative postage stamp.