But was he correct?
Back in 1888 Rudyard Kipling published a story within the book “In Black and White” titled “On the City Wall.” The first line of the one of the chapters in this story about a prostitute reads: “Lalun is a member of the most ancient profession in the world.” That appears to be the first time the phrase appears in print and it seems everyone believed him and has kept the myth alive ever since.
I recently attended the reunion of Binghamton NY broadcasters, as I am an alumnus. The Emmy winning actor and well known voiceover talent Ed Herrman was given an award at that event. In his acceptance remarks he challenged the Kipling myth and said that he believed the oldest profession is actually storytelling. I'd like to think he is correct.
There is no hard evidence but storytelling may be equally as old and goes hand in hand with another ancient profession - salesmanship. In some cases the three professions most definitely are intertwined. For, you need to tell a good story in order to be seductive and win the other person's favor, money and wealth for those services or goods you provide. Hmmmm...
Here's my top five list of great aural storytellers in this century, some deceased:
5. Oprah Winfrey
4. Dr. Wayne Dyer
3. Paul Harvey
2. Bill Cosby
1. Steve Jobs
And the list of my favorite storytellers in the written form, only one of them is contemporary:
5. Rudyard Kipling
4. Washington Irving
3. J.K. Rowling
2. Edgar Allen Poe
1. The Brothers Grimm
This is an opinion blog, so I'm sure your lists differ from mine. But, the important thing to remember is that we are all storytellers in our own way. Some tell stories and make a respectable living doing so and some tell stories just because it's part of who they are. Have you told a story today? I suspect you have.
* Disclaimer – I don't necessarily sanction the products or services some of the contemporary storytellers offer. However, as storytellers, they are/were masters.