Irvin S. Cobb

Irvin S. Cobb books and biography


Irvin S. Cobb


Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb (June 23, 1876–March 11, 1944) was an American author, humorist, and columnist who lived in New York and wrote over 60 books and 300 short stories.

Cobb has been described as "having a round shape, bushy eyebrows, full lips, and a triple chin. He always had a cigar in his mouth." [1]



Cobb was the second of four children born to Kentucky natives in Paducah, Kentucky. His grandfather Reuben Saunders, M.D., is credited with discovering in 1873 that hypodermic use of morphine-atropine halted cholera. Cobb was raised in Paducah, where the events and people of his childhood became the basis for much of his latter works.

Cobb was educated in public and private elementary schools and then entered William A. Cade's Academy intending to pursue a law career. When he was 16, his grandfather died and his father became an alcoholic, so he was forced to quit school and find work, thus beginning his writing career.

Writing career

He started in journalism on the Paducah Daily News at age seventeen, becoming the nation's youngest news managing editor there at nineteen. He later worked at the Louisville Evening Post for a year and a half.

Moving to New York in 1904, he was hired by the Evening Sun, who sent him to Portsmouth, New Hampshire to cover the Russian-Japanese peace conference. His dispatches from the negotiations, focusing on the personalities involved (including President Theodore Roosevelt) were published across the country under the title "Making Peace at Portsmouth". They earned him a job offer from Joseph Pulitzer's New York World that made him the highest-paid staff reporter in the United States.[2]

Cobb covered World War I for the Saturday Evening Post, and wrote a book in 1915 about his experiences called Paths of Glory.


Cobb is best remembered for his humorous stories of Kentucky local color. These stories were first collected in the book Old Judge Priest (1915), whose title character was based on a prominent West Kentucky judge named William Pitman Bishop. Among his other books of humor are Speaking of Operations (1916) and Red Likker (1929).

Joel Harris wrote of these tales, "Cobb created a South peopled with honorable citizens, charming eccentrics, and loyal, subservient blacks, but at their best the Judge Priest stories are dramatic and compelling, using a wealth of precisely rendered detail to evoke a powerful mood." [3]

CObb also wrote short stories in a horror vein, such as "Fishhead" (1911) and "The Unbroken Chain" (1923. "Fishhead" has been cited as an inspiration for H. P. Lovecraft's The Shadow Over Innsmouth, while "The Unbroken Chain" was a model for Lovecraft's "The Rats in the Walls".


Several of Cobb's stories were made into silent films, and he wrote titles for a couple more, including the Jackie Coogan vehicle Peck's Bad Boy (1921). When sound came in, a few more of his stories were adapted into films, including The Woman Accused (1933), starring a young Cary Grant.

John Ford twice made films based on Cobb's Judge Priest stories: Judge Priest (1934), featuring Will Rogers in the title role, and The Sun Shines Bright (1953), based on the short stories "The Sun Shines Bright", "The Mob from Massac", and "The Lord Provides".

Cobb also had an acting career, appearing in 10 films between 1932 and 1938, with starring roles in such movies as Pepper and Everybody's Old Man (1936).


When Cobb died in New York City in 1944, his body was sent to Paducah for cremation and his ashes placed under a dogwood tree. The granite boulder marking his remains is inscribed "Irvin Shrewsbury Cobb 1876-1944 Back Home".


He married Laura Spencer Baker of Savannah, Georgia. His daughter, Elisabeth "Buffy" Cobb (born 1900), was an author in her own right, author of the novel She Was a Lady. Her first husband was Frank Michler Chapman, Jr., son of the ornithologist Frank Michler Chapman.

Cobb's granddaughter was Buff Cobb (born Patricia Chapman on October 19, 1928 in Florence, Italy), a TV personality of the early 1950s and the author of My Wayward Parent (1945). She was Mike Wallace's second wife.[5]

This article might use material from a Wikipedia article, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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Cobb's Anatomy

By Irvin S. Cobb
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Cobb's Anatomy
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Paths Of Glory

By Irvin S. Cobb
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Paths Of Glory
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Speaking Of Operations

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