Today in Literary History – July 11, 1960 – Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird is published

Harper Lee's beloved novel To Kill a Mockingbird was published on July 11, 1960. The novel is the coming of age story of Jean Louise "Scout" Finch and her brother "Jem," whose principled lawyer father, Atticus, chooses to defend a black man, Tom Robinson, who is accused of raping a white woman in Depression Era …

Today In Literary History – July 8, 1822 – poet Percy Bysshe Shelley drowns in Italy

The Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley drowned in the Gulf of Spezia in Italy on July 8, 1822, just weeks short of his 30th birthday, after his boat sank during a sudden storm. There have been theories that his death was a suicide or a botched robbery but it seems more likely to have been …

Today in Literary History – July 7, 1907 – science fiction author Robert Heinlein is born

The eminent science fiction writer Robert Heinlein was born on July 7, 1907, in Butler, Missouri. He is the author of dozens of science fiction novels and short stories --such as Stranger in a Strange Land, Starship Troopers, Time Enough for Love and The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress-- many of which have crossed over …

Today in Literary History – July 6, 1932 – Kenneth Graham, author of The Wind in the Willows, dies

Kenneth Grahame, the author of the classic children’s book The Wind in the Willows, died on July 6, 1932, at the age of seventy-three. His epitaph reads "To the beautiful memory of Kenneth Grahame, husband of Elspeth and father of Alastair, who passed the river on the 6th of July, 1932, leaving childhood and literature through him …

Thought of the Day

"You remember too much, my mother said to me recently. Why hold onto all that? And I said, Where can I put it down?" —Anne Carson 

Today in Literary History – July 4, 1855 – the first edition of Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass is published

The first edition of Walt Whitman’s book of poems, Leaves of Grass, was published in New York on July 4, 1855, when Whitman was thirty-six. It was a slim volume of only 12 (untitled) poems in 95 pages. Whitman said that he wanted the book to be small enough for anyone to carry it in …

Though of the Day

"Did St. Francis preach to the birds? Whatever for? If he really liked birds he would have done better to preach to the cats." --Rebecca West        

Thought of the Day

"The way I keep in touch with the world is very gingerly, because the world touches too hard." --Don Van Vliet ("Captain Beefheart")

Book Review – HISTORY OF VIOLENCE by ÉDOUARD LOUIS – Brutal Honesty About Brutal Reality

Édouard Louis's first novel En finir avec Eddy Bellegueule, was published in France in 2014, when he was 22 years old, and translated into English last year as The End of Eddy. It is a short but powerful autobiographical novel about Louis's adolescence and young manhood as an effeminate, book-loving son of working class parents …

Today in Literary History – June 21, 1948 – Ian McEwan is born

Ian McEwan, the great British short story writer and novelist, was born on June 21, 1948. He has had one of the longest and most varied careers of his generation of British writers which includes Salman Rushdie, Martin Amis and Julian Barnes. McEwan's father was an Army major and McEwan grew up on various military …

Thought of the Day

  “Do not fear to be eccentric in opinion, for every opinion now accepted was once eccentric.” ― Bertrand Russell

Today in Literary History – June 20, 1995 – Essayist Emil Cioran dies

Emil Cioran, the Romanian philosopher and author who lived most of his life in France died on June 20, 1995, at the age of eighty-four, from Alzheimer Disease. Cioran had been obsessed by the idea of suicide his whole life. Many of his brief aphoristic essays wove themselves around what Cioran considered a paradox, at …