Today in Literary History – the centenary of Jessica Mitford, born September 11, 1917

Today is the 100th anniversary of the birth of author and activist Jessica Mitford (known to family and friends as Decca) who was born on September 11, 1917. She was one of the six famous Mitford sisters - the others being Nancy, Pamela, Diana, Unity and Deborah. Diana and Unity were great supporters of the …

Today in Literary History – September 10, 1935 – the assassination of Huey P. Long

Huey Long, nicknamed "The Kingfish," was the controversial governor of Louisiana and later a United States senator He was assassinated on September 10, 1935. He had announced his candidacy for the United States presidency just a month earlier. He was shot in the Capitol Building in Baton Rouge by Dr. Carl Weiss, the son-in-law of …

Today in Literary History – September 9, 1910 – Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein move in together

On September 9, 1910, Alice B. Toklas moved permanently into Gertrude Stein's apartment at 27 rue de Fleurus in the Montparnasse district of Paris. She would be Stein's lover, partner, household organizer, editor and muse until Stein's death in 1946. Together Stein and Toklas, both expatriate Americans, created a lively artistic and literary salon at …

Today in Literary History – September 8, 1886 – the birth of Siegfried Sassoon

The World War I poet Siegfried Sassoon was born on September 8, 1886, in Kent, England, to a Christian mother and a Jewish father. His father's family, who made their fortune mostly in India and were known as "the Rothschilds of the East" disowned and dis-inhereted Sassoon's father for his intermarriage. Sassoon served in World …

Today in Literary History – September 7, 1601 – Death of William Shakespeare’s father

William Shakespeare's father, John Shakespeare, died on September 7, 1601, at the age of 70, when Shakespeare was 37 and tasting success in London, having opened The Globe Theatre in 1599. John Shakespeare had a life of steady rise in fortune and social standing followed by a precipitous decline starting in the 1570s when William …

Today in Literary History – September 6, 1951 – The day William Burroughs shot and killed his wife

On September 6, 1951, William S. Burroughs, famous now for his hallucinatory novels such as Junky and Naked Lunch, shot and killed his wife Joan Vollmer at a drunken house party in Mexico City, where they were living at the time. Stories about the shooting vary wildly but the tale that Burroughs and Joan were …

Today in Literary History – September 5, 1957 – On the Road is published

On the Road, Jack Kerouac's second novel (and his masterpiece) was published 60 years ago today, on September 5, 1957. I happened to be just short of five months old at the time myself, so it was another 16 or 17 years until it finally made a big impact on my life. Like Salinger's Catcher …

Thought of the Day

“You think your pain and your heartbreak are unprecedented in the history of the world, but then you read. It was books that taught me that the things that tormented me most were the very things that connected me with all the people who were alive, who had ever been alive.” ― James Baldwin