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Thomson, Mortimer (1832-1875)

Q. K. Philander
Doesticks, P.B.
Essayist, Journalist, Lecturer, War Correspondent

Mortimer Thomson was a humorist and journalist who wrote under the name Q. K. Philander Doesticks, P.B.--Queer Kritter, Philander Doesticks, Perfect Brick. Thomson acquired this penname while writing for a student magazine at the University of Michigan; although he never graduated from the university--he was expelled for belonging to a campus secret society--Thomson had a productive career as a journalist and satirist after failing as both an actor and a traveling salesman. He was married to the daughter of popular author Fanny Fern (Sarah Willis Parton), who also worked as a journalist (J. Derby 203-204).

Thomson was a popular writer of tongue-in-cheek social commentary (he wrote police reports for the New York Tribune in verse) that covered a wide variety of topics. His faux travel narrative Doesticks: What He Says (1855) gave him early success that paved the way for his parody of Longfellow's "Hiawatha" in Plu-ri-bus-tah (1856), his critique of the upper-classes in Nothing to Say: A Slight Slap at Mobocratic Snobbery (1857), and his humorous take on the fortune tellers of New York City in The Witches of New York (1859). Thomson also wrote a heart-wrenching portrait of the slave trade in Savannah, Georgia, that was initially published in the Tribune in 1859 before being reprinted in other papers, translated into numerous foreign languages, and circulated as an abolitionist tract by the Anti-Slavery Society.

Several sources place Thomson at Pfaff's; he was a friend of George Arnold and, according to William Winter, he "acted as the groomsman at Solomon Eytinge's wedding in June 1858, in Brooklyn." Winter also notes that Thomson, "a clever writer and a good fellow, [is] almost or quite forgotten now" (Old Friends 318).