Today in Literary History – July 30, 2012 – Irish writer Maeve Binchy dies

The internationally popular Irish writer Maeve Binchy died in Dublin on July 30, 2012, at the age of 73. Her novels were translated into 37 languages and have sold over 40 million copies worldwide. Binchy published four collections of short stories and 16 novels in her lifetime. (A Week in Winter, her last novel, was …

Today in Literary History – July 26, 1856 – George Bernard Shaw is born

George Bernard Shaw, one of the greatest playwrights of the modern era and the winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature was born in Dublin, Ireland on July 26, 1856. Shaw lived a long and eventful life, spanning the Victorian, Edwardian, and post World War II eras. He died in 1950 at the age of …

Today in Literary History – July 25, 1896 – Josephine Tey, author of “The Daughter of Time,” is born

The mystery writer Josephine Tey was born as Elizabeth MacKintosh in Inverness, Scotland on July 25, 1896. As Josephine Tey (her great-great grandmother's name) MacKintosh wrote seven mystery novels, five of which star Chief Inspector Alan Grant of Scotland Yard. Tey wrote during the Golden Age of mystery books. It was a particularly Golden Age …

Today in Literary History – July 24, 1867 – comic novelist E.F. Benson, creator of Mapp and Lucia, is born

E.F. Benson, the Edwardian author of the lightheartedly satirical Mapp and Lucia novels, was born on July 24, 1867, at Wellington College, in Berkshire, England, where his father, an Anglican clergyman who later became the Archbishop of Canterbury, was then headmaster. Benson was christened as Edward Frederick and used E.F. Benson in his writing but …

Today in Literary History -July 23, 1888 – “noir” detective novelist Raymond Chandler is born

Raymond Chandler was born on July 23, 1888 in Chicago, Illinois. He is considered to be the most accomplished writer ever of “hard boiled" detective fiction, a genre he helped create. Many of his admirers (who included T.S. Eliot and Evelyn Waugh) would say that he was one of the greatest 20th century American writers, …

Today in Literary History – July 21, 1899 – Ernest Hemingway is born

Ernest Hemingway, the Nobel Prize-winning American writer was born in Oak Park, Illinois, an upscale suburb of Chicago, on July 21, 1899. Despite influencing a generation of writers with his spare, staccato literary style, Hemingway also reveled in his larger-than-life image as a boxer, big-game hunter, deep-sea fisherman, bullfighting aficionado, and womanizer. He even became …

Today in Literary History – July 20, 1304 – the Italian poet Petrarch is born

The Italian poet Petrarch was born in the city of Arezzo in Tuscany on July 20, 1304. His father was a lawyer and civil servant and a member of the minor nobility who had been exiled there from Rome during the convoluted political struggles between backers of the Pope (Petrarch’s father's faction) and backers of …

Today in Literary History – July 18, 1933 – Russian poet Yevgeny Yevtushenko is born in Siberia

Yevgeny Yevtushenko, the Russian poet who the New York Times said had “the charisma of an actor and the instincts of a politician” was born on July 18, 1933 in a small frigid town in Siberia called Zima, literally “winter" in Russian. Yevtushenko published his first book of poems at the age of 19 and …

Today in Literary History – July 16, 2003 – Canadian novelist Carol Shields dies

Carol Shields, the American born Canadian novelist, short story writer, and poet, died from breast cancer on July 16, 2003, at the age of 68. Shields’ ten novels were bestsellers in Canada, the United States, the U.K., and around the world in translation. Along with her five collections of short stories they won or were …

Today in Literary History – July 15, 1947 – short story writer (very short story writer ) Lydia Davis is born

Lydia Davis, the writer of brilliant and brittle short fiction, was born on July 15, 1947. Davis's stories are famously short (often only a paragraph or so), enigmatic, and usually fixated on mundane occurrences. She is credited as one of the inventors of "flash fiction." Despite their brevity her tales have the depth and characterisation …

Today in Literary History – July 13, 2014 – the Nobel Prize-winning South African novelist and activist Nadine Gordimer dies at the age of 90

Nadine Gordimer, the Nobel Prize-winning South African novelist, short story writer, and social activist, died in Johannesburg on July 13, 2014, at the age of 90. She was a wealthy white South African who spent most of her life fighting for racial justice in her homeland, not just in her fiction and essays but also …

Today in Literary History – July 12, 1817 – Henry David Thoreau is born

Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts on July 12, 1817. His idiosyncratic book Walden; or, Life in the Woods, published in 1854, describes the two years, two months, and two days that Thoreau spent living in a one room cabin on the edge of the town of Concord, on the banks of Walden …

Today in Literary History – July 11, 1899 – E.B. White, author of “Charlotte’s Web,” and the “White” of “Strunk and White,” is born.

The writer E.B. White was born in Mount Vernon, New York on July 11, 1899. He spent nearly 50 years writing essays, editorials, and short stories for the New Yorker magazine. In 1957 he revised a guide to clear writing that had been self-published in 1918 by his former professor at Cornell University, William Strunk, …

Today in Literary History – July 10, 1903 – “The Day of the Triffids” author John Wyndham is born

John Wyndham, one of the leading figures of British science fiction and the author of The Day of the Triffids, The Chrysalids, The Midwich Cuckoo, and other books, was born on July 10, 1903. He was given the name John Wyndham Parkes Lucas Beynon Harris, and went by the name John Beynon Harris throughout his …

Today in Literary History – July 9, 1775 -Matthew Lewis, author of the Gothic horror thriller “The Monk,” is born

Matthew Gregory Lewis, author of the Gothic horror novel The Monk, was born in London on July 9, 1775. The Monk was a wildly successful and scandalous novel, full of all of the usual Gothic elements – a romantic Spanish location, a sexually transgressive plot set in a Catholic Abbey, demons, witchcraft, and lots of …

Today in Literary History -July 1, 1961 – controversial French novelist, Louis-Ferdinand Céline dies

Louis-Ferdinand Céline, the highly controversial French novelist and propagandist, died on July 1, 1961, at the age of 67. Céline's real name was Louis Ferdinand Auguste Destouches. His parents were middle class but had higher aspirations for their son. In his teens they sent him to live for a year in Germany and a year …