The Life and Adventures of an Arkansaw Doctor


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First published in 1851, this is the fictionalized account of Dr. Marcus Byrn’s brief practice in eastern Arkansas and the earliest volume solely devoted to Arkansas humor.

“… David Rattlehead, the real-life Marcus Byrn, takes his place beside the other southwestern humor writers who so craftily built a bona-fide American tradition. There’s much here to appeal to the teacher of American Studies. One finds a chronicle of nineteenth-century frontier life and particularly American literary rendering of traditional motifs and themes. Bill McNeil…has an encyclopedic knowledge of historical traditions, and he presents it with great clarity and insight.”

—Simon J. Bronner, Professor of Folklore and American Studies, Penn State University


“David Rattlehead’s book is just the sort of thing that gets overlooked by just about everyone, but it’s also the sort of thing that scholars from a variety of disciplines should know about. … The general reader who wants an authentic taste of what popular literature in the 1850s was like will find this an enjoyable way to get that taste.”

—William M. Clements, Professor of English and Folklore, Arkansas State University