Today in Literary History – June 11, 1936 – Conan the Barbarian creator, Robert E. Howard, dies by suicide at the age of 30

Robert E. Howard, the prolific pulp fiction writer who invented the character Conan the Barbarian and inaugurated the “sword and sorcery” genre, died by suicide on June 11, 1936, at the age of 30. Howard lived his whole life in small Texas oil towns with his father, a country doctor who Howard did not get …

Today in Literary History – June 9, 1936 -British writer Nell Dunn is born

Nell Dunn, the British writer, was born on June 9, 1936. Dunn’s fame comes from three controversial early books, Up the Junction, a book of short stories published in 1963, Talking to Women (1965), a book of conversations with women from “heiresses to factory workers" (both of which Dunn was) which is now a feminist …

Today in Literary History – June 4, 1924 – E.M. Forster’s “A Passage to India” is published

E.M. Forster's fifth novel, A Passage to India, was first published on June 4, 1924. It had been 14 years since his last novel, Howard's End. Forster had struggled with writing A Passage to India for 11 of those years, and it turned out in many ways to be his most personal book. Although Forster …

Thought of the Day

“When a great moment knocks on the door of your life, it is often no louder than the beating of your heart, and it is very easy to miss it.” — Boris Pasternak

Welcome to the month of June with a poem by Claude McKay and a painting by Ana Maria Edulescu

A Memory of June by Claude McKay When June comes dancing o'er the death of May, With scarlet roses tinting her green breast, And mating thrushes ushering in her day, And Earth on tiptoe for her golden guest, I always see the evening when we met-- The first of June baptized in tender rain-- And …

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 …