Today in Literary History – January 20, 1961, 1977, 1993, 1997, 2009 and 2013 – Poets at US Presidential Inaugurations

January 20th was set as the permanent date of American presidential inaugurations in 1933 with the passing of the Twentieth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Before then inaugurations were held on March 4. Since 1933 three American presidents, John F. Kennedy, Bill Clinton and Barak Obama (all of them Democrats) have chosen to have …

Thought of the Day

Thought of the Day: "No shortcomings of other people cause us to be more intolerant than those which are caricatures of our own." -- Franz Grillparzer

Today in Literary History – January 18, 1936 – Rudyard Kipling dies

The Nobel Prize-winning author and poet Rudyard Kipling died January 18, 1936 at the age of seventy. His body was cremated and his ashes were buried in Westminster Abbey next to the graves of Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy. Kipling was born on December 30, 1865, in Bombay (now Mumbai), India, where his father, a …

Today in Literary History – January 16, 1605 – Part One of Don Quixote is published

Part One of Miguel de Cervantes’s masterpiece Don Quixote was published in Spain on January 16, 1605 as El Ingenioso Hidalgo Don Quijote de la Mancha (“The Ingenious Nobleman Sir Quixote of La Mancha”). Don Quixote in his library by DoreDon Quixote is generally referred to as the first modern novel. Its plot arc and its scenes of dialogue distinguish …

Thought of the Day

"Great is the power of steady misrepresentation; but the history of science shows that fortunately this power does not long endure." —Charles Darwin

Today in Literary History – January 13, 1898 – Émile Zola publishes “J’Accuse…!”

On January 13, 1898 French novelist Émile Zola published an open letter to the French President Félix Faure in the newspaper L'Aurore. The letter was headlined “J'Accuse...!” In it Zola accused President Faure and his government of anti-Semitism in its handling of the so called “Dreyfus affair," in which a French General Staff officer, Alfred …

Today in Literary History – January 12, 1628 – Charles Perrault, the “Father of Mother Goose,” is born

Charles Perrault, the “Father of Mother Goose,” who brought the world the stories of Sleeping Beauty, Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood and many others, was born in Paris on January 12, 1628, the son of a wealthy lawyer. Perrault himself was later to become an influential  lawyer and government functionary. He was an aide to …

Today in Literary History – January 5, 1987 – Margaret Laurence, beloved Canadian writer, dies

The beloved Canadian novelist and short story writer Margaret Laurence died on January, 5, 1987, by suicide at the age of sixty. Laurence, a lifelong smoker had been diagnosed with terminal lung cancer and chose to take her own life in order to spare herself and her family a prolonged and painful death. Laurence was …