Today in Literary History – August 21, 1872 – illustrator and author Aubrey Beardsley is born

Aubrey Beardsley, the Victorian illustrator and author, was born in Brighton on August 21, 1872. His striking black and white drawings made him a much in-demand book illustrator and cover designer and an important figure in the Art Nouveau movement. Beardsley's parents both came from respectable families, but due to his father's financial indiscretions, were …

Today in Literary History – August 16, 1884 – Hugo Gernsback, “the father of science fiction,” is born

Hugo Gernsback, an inventor, writer, publisher, and editor who is often called the “father of science fiction,” was born on August 16, 1884, in the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. Gernsback moved to the United States when he was 20 years old and, among other pursuits (such as selling the first kits for ham radios) he …

Today in Literary History – August 15, 1785 – Thomas De Quincey, author of “Confessions of an English Opium-Eater,” is born

Thomas De Quincey, the British essayist best known for his book Confessions of an English Opium-Eater, was born in Manchester on August 15, 1785. De Quincey's father was a prosperous linen merchant who died when De Quincey was young. His father's death and the childhood deaths of two of his sisters left De Quincey with …

Today in Literary History – August 14, 1969 – Leonard Woolf dies- (from Bookworm Norm, August, 2018)

  Leonard Woolf, the editor, publisher, novelist, memoirist, and husband of Virginia Woolf, died from a stroke on August 14, 1969 at the age of eighty-eight. Woolf was born into a Jewish family in London. His father was a lawyer but after he died, when Woolf was eleven years old, the family fell on hard …

Today in Literary History – August 13, 1946 – H.G. Wells dies – (from Bookworm Norm, August, 2018)

The British writer H.G. Wells died on August 13, 1946, of undisclosed causes. Wells was 79 and had suffered from diabetes for years. He was co-founder of what is now the charity Diabetes UK. Wells is considered to be one of the “godfathers of science fiction” for his early works in the speculative genre such …

Today in Literary History – August 12, 1880 – Radclyffe Hall, author of the banned lesbian novel “The Well of Loneliness” is born

Radclyffe Hall, the author of the first lesbian-themed mainstream novel in England, was born in Bournemouth on August 12, 1880. The Well of Loneliness, published in 1928, was Hall's sixth novel and the first to be overtly about a lesbian love affair, although her first novel did hint at a same sex romance. Her 1926 …

Today in Literary History – August 10, 1961 – controversial Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Julia Peterkin dies

Julia Peterkin, the controversial Pulitzer Prize-winning American novelist died on August 10, 1961, at the age of 80. Peterkin was born as Julia Mood in South Carolina and earned a Masters Degree from Converse College (an unusual achievement for a woman at the tine) before she married George Peterkin in 1903. George Peterkin owned a …

Today in Literary History – August 6, 1809 – Alfred Lord Tennyson is born

Alfred Tennyson, the most popular poet of the Victorian era, was born in Lincolnshire, to a just barely middle class family, on August 6, 1809. In 1883 Tennyson was made a baron, the first British writer to be raised to the peerage for his literary work, and is now known universally as Alfred Lord Tennyson. …

Today in Literary History – August 5, 1934 – poet, novelist, and environmentalist Wendell Berry is born

Wendell Berry, the prolific poet, novelist, essayist, and environmentalist, was born on August 5, 1934 in Henry County, Kentucky, where his family had lived for five previous generations. Berry taught at Stanford, New York University, and the University of Kentucky for 20 years. Since 1965 he and his wife Tanya have lived on and managed …

Today in Literary History – August 3, 1954 – French novelist Colette, author of “Chéri” and “Gigi,” dies at 81

The French novelist Colette died on August 3, 1954, at the age of 81. Because she had been twice divorced she was denied a Catholic funeral but she was given a French state funeral, the first female author to be given that honour. Colette (who was born in Burgundy in 1873 as Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette) is …

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 …