How to be a HERMIT, or A BACHELOR Keeps House

Will Cuppy

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Will Cuppy (1884-1949) was a well-known journalist, columnist and humorous. His best known book The Decline and Fall of Practically Everybody was published posthumously. It, like How to Be a Hermit was a collection of essays, previously published in magazines like the New Yorker.

The focus of How to Be a Hermit is Cuppy’s time living in a shack on a small island, Jones Island, off Long Island’s south shore, from 1921 to 1929. The nearby Coast Guard crew helped him repair the shack and shared supplies and recipes with him. In 1929 the encroachment of the Jones State Park forced him off the island, but a dispensation from the head of the parks department allowed him to keep the shack, and he continued to visit the island until his death.

These gently humorous essays show the difficulty of living alone, dependent on the mercy of the coast guardsmen and the seasonal visitors to the island, who left behind miscellaneous canned goods when they left. He quotes the acerbic comments of his only companion, a black cat.

He supported himself by writing book reviews for $0.25 each, and writing a column for the New York Herald Tribune, and selling articles to the New Yorker and McCall‘s magazine. Very shy of people, Cuppy never married, thus the subtitle. He described a hermit as “simply a person to whom civilization has failed to adjust itself.”

Civilization never adjusted itself to Will Cuppy, and he got his revenge by writing these wonderful essays.

 

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