Image of Canning Josiah Dean is not available
star nullstar nullstar nullstar nullstar null

Born in August 31, 1816 / Died in March 25, 1892 / United States / English


In Gill, Massachusetts, Josiah D. Canning was born on August 31, 1816 (the family had changed the name from Cannon). Though his brothers had the benefit of a college education, young Josiah himself did not. Nevertheless, at age 15, he took his first steps towards a literary career when he built his own printing press and started producing a weekly newspaper. In its first six months, the four-page Village Post featured exceptional coverage of gruesome or violent news. After its second year, the newspaper expanded and began to include poetry — including poems by Canning himself.

Within only a few years, Canning founded or worked with newspapers in Detroit, the Wisconsin Territory, and what is now Wheeling, West Virginia, all to varying degrees of success. Ultimately returning to Massachusetts, he abandoned journalistic pursuits and became a farmer — a role which instantly became his greatest poetic inspiration.

Upon the publication of his book Poems, New York editor Lewis Gaylord Clark announced enthusiastically: "Make way for a farmer's boy... who draws his figures from ever-glorious nature!" It was Clark who bestowed upon Canning the nickname "Peasant Bard."