John Ross Browne

John Ross Browne (February 11, 1821 in Beggars Bush, Dublin, Ireland – December 9, 1875 in Oakland, California), often called J. Ross Browne, date of birth sometimes given as 1817, was an Irish-born American traveler, artist, writer and government agent.


John Ross Browne was the third of seven children born to Thomas Egerton Browne, an Irish newspaper editor, and his wife, Elizabeth (Buck) Browne. Thomas Browne was an ardent nationalist who ran afoul of the British government and was sent to prison, but released on condition of his leaving Ireland. In 1833 the family emigrated to the United States.[1] They settled in Louisville, Kentucky, where Thomas became a schoolteacher and eventually editor and proprietor of the Louisville Daily Reporter.[2]

Browne briefly attended Louisville Medical Institute, an experience that inspired his first book, Confessions of a Quack (1841). In 1842, after working several years on a riverboat, he signed on to a whaling ship. In 1846 he published the book Etchings of a Whaling Cruise at Harper & Brothers, New York,[3] which earned him recognition as an artist and writer, and is thought to have influenced Herman Melville. He married Lucy Anne Mitchell in 1844. The couple had nine children.

In 1849, at the time of the California Gold Rush, Browne moved to California[3] and worked in various jobs for the government, as an agent for the Treasury Department, surveyor of customs houses and mints, investigator of Indian and Land Office affairs, and official reporter for the state constitutional convention.[1] He published parts of these experiences in the popular press as From Crusoe's Island (1864).[4] He then went on a trip to Europe and the Middle East, published his impressions serially at Harper's Magazine and then in book form as Yusef (1853). Browne and his family moved in 1861 to Germany, an experience that resulted in An American Family in Germany (1866), with Browne's side trips detailed in The Land of Thor (1866). In 1863 he returned to the American West, vividly describing Arizona, Sonora and other regions in his Adventures in the Apache Country (1869). He was appointed Minister to China in 1868, but was recalled in 1870.[3]

Browne died December 9, 1875, in Oakland, California.[3] The style of his writings influenced a number of authors such as Mark Twain,[1] Bret Harte and Dan De Quille.

Published writings

  • 1841 – Confessions of a quack, or, The auto-biography of a modern Aesculapian, James B. Marshall Publisher, Louisville, Kentucky, 1841. OCLC 5230489

See also


  1. J. Ross Browne Collection Online Archive of California, accessdate 5 January 2013.
  2. John E. Kleber, The Encyclopedia of Louisville (Lexington: University of Kentucky Press, 2001), 134.
  3. John Ross Browne Library of Ireland Compendium of Irish biography, 1878, accessdate 5 January 2013
  4. Browne, John Ross, From Crusoe's Island: a Ramble in the Footsteps of Alexander Selkirk, Harper and Brothers, New York, 1864, accessdate 5 January 2013

Further reading

  • Browne, Lina Fergusson, ed., J. Ross Browne: His Letters, Journals, and Writings (Albuquerque, N.M.: University of New Mexico Press, 1969)
  • Csiscilla, Joseph, "J. Ross Browne." Nineteenth-Century American Fiction Writers (DLB 202). Ed. Kent P. Ljungquist. Detroit: Gale Research, 1999. pp. 57–64.
  • Rock, Francis J. (1929). J. Ross Browne: A Biography (PhD). Washington D.C.: Catholic University Of America.
  • Wild, Peter (2003). J. Ross Browne. Boise, Idaho: Boise State University "Western Writers Series" #157. pp. 49. ISBN 978-0884301578 OCLC 50722235
  • The Mark Twain Encyclopedia edited by J. R. LeMaster, James Darrell Wilson, Christie Graves Hamric, Garland Publishing, Inc., New York and London, 1993
This article is issued from Wikipedia. The text is licensed under Creative Commons - Attribution - Sharealike. Additional terms may apply for the media files.