Bill Nye (not “the science guy”) and James Whitcombe Riley were 19th century American humourists.
According to Project Muse (http://muse.jhu.edu/journals/rals/summary/v026/26.2tucker.html):
“The two authors, Bill Nye (1850-96), born Edgar Wilson Nye in Maine, and James Whitcomb Riley (1849-1916), born in Indiana, achieved a considerable amount of fame independently. Nye, after a distinguished career as a journalist, became widely known as a humorist. He wrote over a dozen books including Bill Nye and Boomerang (1881), Forty Liars and Other Lies (1882), Baled Hay (1884), and Bill Nye’s History of the United States (1894). Riley, also a journalist, became known as the author of sentimental poems in the Hoosier dialect. He published collections such as The Old Swimmin’ Hole and ‘Leven More Poems (1883), Afterwhiles (1887), and Rhymes of Childhood (1890). Some poems, such as ‘When the Frost Is on the Punkin’, ‘Little Orphant Annie,’ and ‘The Raggedy Man,’ became household favorites. Each man appeared on the lecture circuit, reading from his own works.
And then the two men combined their talents. They wrote some works together, such as Nye and Riley’s Railway Guide (1888) and Nye and Riley’s Wit and Humor: Amusing Prose Sketches and Quaint Dialect Poems (1901). Yet it was when they toured together that they became best known: ‘Their combined presentations took the lecture circuit by storm’; ‘[t]here never was such a combination upon the platform”. Actually, their time together was very brief: a few appearances in 1886 and 1887, followed by an extended lecture tour during the 1888-89 season and another in 1889-90. After a slow start, they ‘began attracting large crowds and drawing favorable reviews in the newspapers’. The combination became known as ‘Jamesie and Bill,’ ‘the Siamese Twins,’ and ‘the Twins of Genius.’ In a ‘professional relationship that rivaled Mark Twain and George W. Cable’s platform duet’ , they achieved a fame that Edmund H. Eitel termed, ‘a tradition of the early lecturing period’”
This is a cheap reprint from an old family collection, published in the year of Nye’s death. It includes an obituary.
The humour has not aged particularly well, but it is an interesting insight to the culture of the time. Also, the fox illustration reminds me of Ralph Steadman.
The book is archived in full here: