Also Today in Literary History – May 31, 1699 – Samuel Pepys wrote the last entry of his famous Diary 350 years ago today

On May 31, 1669 Samuel Pepys made his last entry in the diary that he had kept since January 1, 1660. He wrote that he was concerned about damaging his eyesight by writing by candlelight. Pepys diary is one of the most fascinating and multi-faceted written undertakings, providing a portrait of its author and his …

Today in Literary History – May 31, 1819 – Walt Whitman is born 200 years ago today

Ezra Pound called Walt Whitman, who was born 200 years ago today, "America's poet ... He is America." Whitman wrote about the lives of working people, sexual outsiders, and seekers after answers to life's mysteries that went beyond typical Christian pieties. He was born on Long Island in New York on May 31, 1819, but …

Today in Literary History – May 30, 1593 -playwright Christopher Marlowe is murdered at the age of 29

Christopher “Kit" Marlowe, the most popular Elizabethan dramatist of his day, died on May 30, 1593, after being stabbed in the head during a fight with one of his friends, Ingram Frizer. Marlowe was only 29. Marlowe’s career as a playwright had a mercurial start and a magnificent but brief run. In less than six …

Also On This Day in Literary History – Maya Angelou dies – from Bookworm Norm 2018

Maya Angelou, the American poet and memoirist, died on May 28, 2014 at the age of 86. Her first book — the first of seven volumes of autobiography — I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, was published in 1969 and told the story of her life up to the age of seventeen. It was an immediate …

Also On This Day in Literary History – Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” is published – from Bookworm Norm 2018

Bram Stoker’s Gothic horror novel Dracula was published in London on May 26, 1897. Stoker was the business manager for the Lyceum Theatre but he also wrote horror and supernatural books on the side. Dracula came out of Stoker’s long interest in Eastern European folktales. Stoker researched accounts of vampires and shapeshifters, mostly from Romanian folk beliefs, and …

Also On This Day in Literary History – Raymond Carver is born – from Bookworm Norm 2018

Raymond Carver, the masterful short story writer and poet, was born on May 25, 1938. Carver was born in Oregon and raised in the state of Washington. He married at the age of 19 (to his pregnant 16 year-old girlfriend) and moved to California. He attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop but left before graduating. He …

Today in Literary History – May 25, 1953 – “Vagina Monologues” author Eve Ensler is born

Eve Ensler, the playwright, author, performer, and feminist activist, was born in New York City on May, 25, 1953. Ensler is best known for her groundbreaking play The Vagina Monologues. Ensler constructed the play from over 200 interviews that she conducted with women about sexual pleasure, reproductive rights, sex work, sexual violence, body image, and …

Thought of the Day

“If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown! But every night come out these envoys of beauty, and light the universe with their admonishing smile.” -Ralph Waldo Emerson

Also On This Day in Literary History – poet Alexander Pope is born – from Bookworm Norm 2018

Alexander Pope, the great satiric poet, was born on May 21, 1688. Pope suffered from many physical ailments including Pott’s disease, a form of tuberculosis affecting the spine. He was hunchbacked and stood at only four feet six inches. In addition he had severe respiratory difficulties and abdominal pains. Pope came from a Catholic family …

Today in Literary History – May 20, 1609 – William Shakespeare’s Sonnets are first published

154 sonnets by William Shakespeare were first published on May 20, 1609 by Thomas Thorpe. Nearly everything about the sonnets - their composition, dedication, and publication – leads to a rabbit's warren of confusion, speculation and disagreement. The controversy starts with Thomas Thorpe himself and the question of how and where he obtained the sonnets …

Also On This Day in Literary History -T.E. Lawrence dies after a motorcycle accident – From Bookworm Norm 2018

T. E. Lawrence, known to history as “Lawrence of Arabia” and the author of the classic Seven Pillars of Wisdom, died on May 19, 1935, at the age of forty-six. He had resigned from the RAF just a few months earlier and had moved permanently into his holiday cottage in Dorset. Lawrence was an avid motorcyclist and …

Today in Literary History – May 19, 1971 – humorous poet Ogden Nash dies

Ogden Nash, famed for his humorous poems featuring unexpected rhymes, idiosyncratic spelling, and wistful sentiments, died on May 19, 1971 at the age of 68. He had suffered from Crone’s Disease and other gastric ailments throughout his life. He fell ill after eating some coleslaw that turned out to have been contaminated. This led to …

Thought of the Day

"To be immortal is commonplace; except for man, all creatures are immortal, for they are ignorant of death." – Jorge Luis Borges

Also Today in Literary History – French anti-war writer Henri Barbuse is born in 1873 – from Bookworm Norm 2018

Henri Barbusse, the French novelist and war hero turned pacifist, was born on May 17, 1873. His father was French and his mother was English. He was a well known poet and journalist in Paris literary circles before World War I. Barbusse was 41 and in poor health when war broke out in 1914 but …

Today in Literary History – May 17, 1900 – L. Frank Baum’s “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” is first published

L. Frank Baum's classic children's book The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was first published in Chicago by George M. Hill Company on May 17, 1900. Baum gave the first copy that rolled off the presses to his sister, Mary Louise Baum Brewster. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was illustrated by Baum's frequent collaborator, W.W. Denslow, …

Also Today in Literary History – Emily Dickinson dies – from Bookworm Norm May 2018

Emily Dickinson, who is now considered one of the most important American poets, died on May 15, 1886, in almost complete obscurity. She was 55 years old and had spent most of her life living in her family mansion in Amherst, Massachusetts. Her neighbours considered her to be an eccentric recluse. In her later years …