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Born in New York, his father was a prosperous businessman. Carryl became a successful businessman and stockbroker, and for 34 years from 1874 he held a seat on the New York Stock Exchange. In 1869 he married Mary Wetmore, and had two children, the eldest of whom was poet and humorist Guy Wetmore Carryl. In 1882 he published his first work: Stock Exchange Primer.
In 1884 he published the children’s fantasy Davy and the Goblin; or, What Followed Reading "Alice's Adventures in Wonderland", serialized in the magazine St Nicholas. His work includes the children’s nonsense poem “The Walloping Window Blind”, published in 1885, in a verse style similar to Lewis Carroll’s: A capital ship for an ocean trip/Was the Walloping Window-Blind;/No wind that blew dismayed her crew/Or troubled the captain’s mind. A second novel, The Admiral's Caravan, also serialized in St Nicholas beginning in December 1891, was dedicated to his daughter Constance.
His poem "The Walloping Window Blind" has been put to music and (with the addition of a chorus) used as the text for the verses of a song variously named "Capital Ship", "Blow, Ye Winds, Heigh-Ho", and "The Walloping Window-Blind". It was called "Capital Ship" by Bounding Main on their 2005 album Lost at Sea.
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