From Bookworm Norm March 2018 – March 29, 1895 – World War I memoirist Ernst Jünger is born

Ernst Jünger, the German soldier, essayist and philosopher, was born on March 29, 1895. He is most famous for his searing World War I memoir Storm of Steel, which was first published in Germany in 1920. Jünger served in the German army on the Western Front throughout the First World War. He was wounded many times, …

Today in Literary History – March 28, 1708 – Hannah Glasse, the author of Britain’s first bestselling cookbook, is born

Hannah Glasse, the author of the first English mass consumption cookbook, was born on March 28, 1708. Her book The Art of Cookery Made Plain and Simple was published in 1747 and was the largest selling cookbook in Britain for over a century. It was very influential in colonial and post-colonial America as well. Benjamin …

Today in Literary History – March 26, 1911 – playwright Tennessee Williams is born

One of the most important American playwrights of the 20th century was born in Mississippi on March 26, 1911 as Thomas Lanier Williams. For reasons he never clearly explained he chose the pen name Tennessee Williams when he was 28, but he was always known to his friends as “Tom.” His plays The Glass Menagerie …

Today in Literary History – March 24, 1976 – E.H. Shepard, illustrator of Winnie-the-Pooh, dies at 96

E. H. Shepard, the artist who created the iconic illustrations for A. A. Milne's series of Winnie-the-Pooh books and Kenneth Grahame's beloved The Wind in the Willows, died on March 24, 1976 at the age of 96. Ernest Howard Shepard was born in London on December 10, 1879. Shepard’s parents – his father was an architect …

Today in Literary History – March 18, 1927 – “professional amateur” and Paris Review editor George Plimpton is born

George Plimpton, a “participatory journalist" and “professional amateur" as well as a generous and important literary editor, was born in New York City on March 18, 1927. He is famous for his self-deprecatory books about his immersion in elite professions -- pitching half of a Major League baseball game, training as quarterback with the Detroit …

Today in Literary History – March 14, 1887 – Sylvia Beach, owner of Shakespeare and Company in Paris, is born

Sylvia Beach, the bookseller and publisher who founded the English language bookstore Shakespeare and Company in Paris, was born in Baltimore, Maryland on March 14, 1887. Shakespeare and Company became an important meeting place for expatriate American and British writers in Paris between 1919 and 1941, when the store was closed under the Nazi occupation …

Today in Literary History – March 12, 1912 – Canadian poet Irving Layton is born

Irving Layton, one of the most influential and controversial Canadian poets of the 20th century was born on March 12, 1912 as Israel Pincu Lazarovitch in Târgu Neamţ, Romania. According to family legend, Layton was born naturally circumcised, a sign in Jewish mysticism that he was, if not the messiah, then definitely destined for greatness. …

Today in Literary History – March 11, 1959 – the groundbreaking play A Raisin in the Sun debuted on Broadway 60 years ago today

Sixty years ago today, on March 11, 1959, "A Raisin in the Sun,” the play by Lorraine Hansberry, debuted on Broadway at The Ethel Barrymore Theatre. The play centres around a black family, the Youngers, and is set in their cramped Chicago apartment. The family's father has recently died and left them with a $10,000 …

Today in Literary History – March 7, 1913 – Canadian poet Pauline Johnson dies

Emily Pauline Johnson, the Canadian poet and performer, died from breast cancer in Vancouver, B.C. on March 7, 1913 just three days before her 52nd birthday. Johnson, also known by her indigenous name Tekahionwake, was born in 1861 on the Six Nations reserve in Ontario where her father was a hereditary Mohawk chief. Her mother …

Today in Literary History – March 6, 1927 – Nobel Prize-winning novelist Gabriel García Márquez is born

Gabriel García Márquez, the Nobel Prize-winning Colombian novelist, was born on March 6, 1927. With his novels, including One Hundred Years of Solitude, The Autumn of the Patriarch, Love in the Time of Cholera, and novellas like No One Writes to the Colonel and Chronicle of a Death Foretold, García Márquez became not only the …

Today in Literary History – March 5, 1948 -American crime writer James Ellroy is born

James Ellroy, perhaps America’s greatest living crime fiction writer, was born in Los Angeles on March 5, 1948 as Lee Earle Ellroy. Ellroy’s life had inauspicious beginnings. His mother was raped and murdered when he was ten years old. In his twenties he was often homeless, addicted to drugs and alcohol. He was arrested more …

Today in Literary History – March 3, 1983 – Hergé, the creator of Tintin dies

Georges Remi, who created, wrote, and illustrated the Tintin books series under the penname Hergé, died in 1983 at the age of 75, from a rare form of bone marrow cancer. The Tintin books, starring an intrepid boy reporter’s globe-trotting adventures, have sold 120 million copies in 40 languages over the last 90 years. Although …

Today in Literary History – March 2, 1930 – Tom Wolfe is born

Tom Wolfe, one of the founders of the “New Journalism" movement and a best-selling novelist, was born on March 2, 1930 in Richmond, Virginia. Wolfe's early journalistic works in the 1960s, collected in such books as The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test, and Radical Chic & Mau-Mauing the Flak Catchers, broke most of …

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 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