Where does the term “barnstormer” come from and What does barnstormer mean?

He did not take barns by storm, as a soldier might; he merely did his storming in barns, his furious dramatic declamations.

He was an actor, that is, or one who would be.

He was one of the large number of second-rate itinerant players who roamed the countryside in bands, giving a play wherever they could attract an audience.

Dickens describes such a troupe in Nicholas Nickleby. Whenever a proper theater was not available, they made shift in a barn.

It was not until about the mid-nineteenth century, however, that barnstormer was applied to such an actor.

Late in the century the term was also applied to any American political speaker making a rapid campaign tour to arouse the electorate in his behalf.

About Karen Hill

Karen Hill is a freelance writer, editor, and columnist. Born in New York, her work has appeared in the Examiner, Yahoo News, Buzzfeed, among others.

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