Bill Nye. There’s a name that automatically brings back memories. No, not Bill Nye the Science Guy, but don’t worry… I was fooled too! I stumbled across this story while rambling through the Chilson Collection. The voice and history of the Western enthusiast, Edgar Wilson Nye, more commonly known by his pseudonym Bill Nye, comes to life in the story Bill Nye: The Western Writings, written by David B. Kesterson. Bill Nye may have been humorous, but his goal was not to promote science like the one of this era. He was a journalist, writer, and an advocate of the West. He gives interesting, and contrasting, insights on life in the West, being witty as well as satirical in the stories he spun. Founder of the Laramie Boomerang, a newspaper that still exists in his beloved Wyoming, Nye went on to become well known for his comical tales that always seemed to hide another meaning behind them. Bill Nye: The Western Writings reveals the life journey of a writer who loved the West, but acknowledged its faults with humor to cover his tracks. He lived during the time of the “Wild Frontier,” the infamous Jesse James, the humorist and realist Mark Twain, and renowned poet James Whitcomb Riley and either had influence or direct contact with all of these recognizable symbols of America. Not only did Nye indulge in promoting the West, while broadcasting its faults, he would go on to become an advocate for women’s suffrage. Bill Nye’s biography takes an interesting perspective on life of the West among many other outlooks on life in general. This is one of the many treasures that can be found in the Archives and Special Collections, one just has to keep an open mind to what they are looking to discover!
Kesterson, David B. Bill Nye: The Western Writings. Boise: Boise State University Western Writers Series, 1976. Print.