Ellis is Emeritus Foundation Professor of History at Eastern Kentucky. He has pursued the role of humor in American life for many years. He settled into writing a biography of Cobb nearly a decade ago. Published by the University Press of Kentucky in early 2017, "Irvin S. Cobb: The Rise and Fall of an American Humorist," traces the life of one of the most important American humorists of the first third of the 20th Century. Why and how Cobb rose to fame and fortune and his subsequent fall from grace and public acclaim is a wonderful case study in not only the changing tastes of American entertainment but also a story that resonates with all of us. As time changes we must all make adjustments. A life-time Kentuckian from Danville, Ellis graduated from Shelbyville High School in 1958, received his B. A. (1962) and M.A. in Education (1966), from Georgetown College, and his Ph.D. from the University of Kentucky (1974). He also holds an M.A. degree (1967) from Eastern Kentucky University. He is a longtime columnist for Kentucky Monthly Magazine.
An Evening with the Stories and Tales of Irvin S. Cobb, One of Paducah's and Kentucky's Best Known Natives - Library Evening Upstairs