Thought of the Day

"Language, in fact, is very far from logical. Its development is determined, not by neat and obvious rules, but by a polyhedron of disparate and often sharply conflicting forces—the influence of the schoolma’am, imitation (often involving misunderstanding), the lazy desire for simplicity and ease, and sheer wantonness and imbecility." —H.L. Mencken

Today in Literary History – January 31, 1872 – pioneering American Western novelist Zane Grey is born

Zane Grey, the novelist who invented the American Western genre, was born in Zanesville, Ohio on January 31, 1872. Grey had a colourful life as a semi-professional baseball player, a dentist, an award-winning deep sea fisherman and bestselling author. He was by far the most commercially successful American writer in the 1910s to 1930s. Many …

Today in Literary History – January 30, 1935 – Richard Brautigan is born

Richard Brautigan, the American novelist, poet and short story writer, was born on January 30, 1935 in Tacoma, Washington. He was raised in extreme poverty. In 1955 he was arrested for throwing a rock through a police station window just to get arrested so that he could be fed in jail. Brautigan was diagnosed with …

Diana Athill – December 21, 1917 – January 23, 2019 – editor, novelist and memoirist

Diana Athill, the editor, novelist and memoirist died this week at the age of 101. Here is a blog entry from Bookwom Norm on her 100th birthday on December 21, 2017.   Diana Athill, the literary editor, memoirist and novelist is celebrating her 100th birthday today. She was born on December 21, 1917, during the …

Today in Literary History – January 25, 1874 – novelist W. Somerset Maugham is born

English novelist and playwright W. Somerset Maugham (known to his friends as “Willie") was born on January 25, 1874 in the British Embassy in Paris. His father, a lawyer attached to the embassy arranged for Maugham to be born there (it was legally considered British territory) to ensure his British citizenship. Maugham grew up in …

Today in Literary History – January 22, 1572 – Poet John Donne is Born

The poet and cleric John Donne was born on or about January 22, 1572. (There is some debate about the exact day, but January 22 is the commonly accepted date by most authorities .) John Donne’s poetry is widely popular today and has been since the beginning of the 20th century -- partly because its …

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 4th. 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 …