Today in Literary History – February 28, 1820 – Alice in Wonderland illustrator Sir John Tenniel is born

Sir John Tenniel, the Victorian illustrator and political cartoonist, was born on February 28, 1820. Tenniel's illustrations for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass have shaped how readers have imagined Alice, the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, Tweedledee and Tweedledum and other characters for the past 150 years. When he …

Today in Literary History- February 26, 1802 – Victor Hugo is born

Victor Hugo, author of Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame, was born on February 26, 1802 in Besançon, France. Hugo’s parents seem to have been spectacularly mismatched. His father was a general in Napoleon’s army. He was also a skeptic when it came to religious belief. Hugo’s mother, on the other hand, was …

Today in Literary History – February 24, 1304, world traveller Ibn Battuta is born

Abū ʿAbd Allāh Muḥammad ibn ʿAbd Allāh al-Lawātī al-Tanjī ibn Baṭṭūṭah, known more often simply as Ibn Battuta, the author of a famous book of his travels a generation after Marco Polo, was born in Tangier, Morocco on February 24, 1304. Like Marco Polo Ibn Battuta travelled extensively in the Middle East and China. He …

Today in Literary History – February 23, 1821 – Romantic poet John Keats dies at the age of 25

John Keats, the great Romantic poet, died in Rome on February 23, 1821 at the age of only 25. There appear to be many causes for his untimely death (including mercury poisoning) but tuberculosis, or consummation as it was then called, seems to be the proximate cause. Keats’s poetry was not well received during his …

Today in Literary History – February 22, 1903 – Canadian novelist, short story writer and Ernest Hemingway’s boxing partner, Morley Callaghan is born

Morley Callaghan, the Canadian novelist and short story writer, was born in Toronto on February 22, 1903. He died in Toronto in 1990 at the age of 87. He wrote 13 novels, but they are now considered to be dated and are less read and less well-regarded than his short stories, particularly his 21 New …

Today in Literary History – February 21, 1962 – novelist and essayist David Foster Wallace is born

David Foster Wallace, the innovative and highly influential novelist and essayist was born on February 21, 1962. Wallace died by suicide in 2008. In the aftermath of his death his critical and popular reputation saw an enormous spike. Lately it has taken a steep fall due in part to the reports of his misogynist behaviour. …

Today in Literary History – February 20, 2005 – Hunter S. Thompson dies by suicide

Hunter S. Thompson, the “gonzo" journalist and novelist, died at his Colorado compound at 5:42 in the afternoon of February 20, 2005, of a single self-inflicted gunshot to the head. At the time, he was on the phone with his wife, who had gone to the gym in town. Thompson's son, daughter-in-law and young grandson, who …

Thought of the Day

  “It has been well said that an author who expects results from a first novel is in a position similar to that of a man who drops a rose petal down the Grand Canyon of Arizona and listens for the echo.” -- P. G. Wodehouse

Also On This Day in Literary History – February 15, 1883 – from Bookworm Norm 2018

FEBRUARY 15, 2018 BY NORM SIGURDSON Today in Literary History – February 15, 1883 – Sax Rohmer, author of the Fu Manchu books is born Arthur Ward, who wrote mystery novels about the evil mastermind Dr. Fu Manchu under the pseudonym “Sax Rohmer,” was born in Birmingham, England on February 15, 1883. Ward began his writing career scripting …

Today in Literary History – February 15, 1998 – war correspondent and novelist Martha Gelhorn dies

Martha Gelhorn, the war correspondent, novelist and third wife of Ernest Hemingway, died on February 15, 1998 at the age of 89. She was in poor health, suffering from ovarian and liver cancer and nearly blind. She choose to end her life by suicide. Gelhorn came from a politically progressive Jewish family in St. Louis, …

Today in Literary History – February 14, 1930 – cult novelist Hary Mathews is born

Harry Mathews, the American-born novelist who spent most of his long life living in France, was born in New York on February 14, 1930. Mathews never really reached great popular success but has always had an avid cult following. Mathews came from a wealthy family who disagreed with his literary and artistic ambitions. Relations with …

On This Day in Literary History – February 13, 1769 – Russian fable writer Ivan Krylov is born

Ivan Krylov, who wrote some of the most famous fables in Russian literature and came to be known as “The Russian La Fontaine,” was born in Moscow on February 13, 1769. His father was a military officer from the lowest ranks of the Russian nobility. He died when Krylov was ten years old, plunging the …

Also On This Day in Literary History – February 10, 1837 – From Bookworm Norm 2018

FEBRUARY 10, 2018 BY NORM SIGURDSON Today in Literary History – February 10, 1837 – Alexander Pushkin dies after being shot in a duel Alexander Pushkin, one of the pioneers of Russian literature died at the age of 37 on February 10 (January 29 under the Old Style calendar) 1837, two days after being shot in a duel. …

On This Day in Literary History – February 10, 1609 – Sir John Suckling, poet, playwright, playboy and the inventor of cribbage is born

Sir John Suckling, poet, playwright, playboy and the inventor of cribbage, was born on February 10, 1609. His father was Secretary of State under King James I and Comptroller of the Household of King Charles I. He died when Suckling was only 18, leaving him a vast fortune and a large estate. Suckling was sent …

Also On This Day In Literary History – From Bookworm Norm 2018

FEBRUARY 9, 2018 BY NORM SIGURDSON Today in Literary History – February 9, 1923 – Irish writer Brendan Behan is born The Irish playwright, novelist and memoirist Brendan Behan was born in Dublin on January 9, 1923. He had a short life, with a meteoric rise as a gifted and famous writer and just as swift a fall …