Today in Literary History – August 24, 1872 – “The Incomperable Max” Beerbohm is born

Max Beerbohm (or to give him his full handle, Sir Henry Maximilian Beerbohm) was born in London on August 24, 1872. He was known originally as a dandy and a bon vivant (closely associated with Oscar Wilde's circle, a good friend of Aubrey Beardsley) and an accomplished caricaturist (signing his drawings as simply "Max"). He …

Thought of the Day

"Now a book lives as long as it is unfathomed. Once it is fathomed, once it is known and its meaning is fixed or established, it is dead." -- D.H. Lawrence  

Today in Literary History – August 21, 1920 – Christopher Robin Milne is born

Christopher Robin Milne was born on August 21, 1920. His father was A.A. Milne, the creator of the Winnie-the-Pooh books that were based on Christopher Robin and his teddy bear, "Winnie-the-Pooh." The younger Milne resented his childhood being used by his father as literary inspiration. Some offspring may have taken it with good grace and …

Thought of the Day

"To be tiny and yet to attack someone very big is a brilliant feat. It is glorious to be a flea on a lion…The humiliated lion carries in its flesh the sting of the insect, and the flea can say: I have lion’s blood in me." —Victor Hugo

Thought of the Day

"The only sensible procedure for a critic is to keep silent about works which he believes to be bad. Attacking bad books is not only a waste of time but also bad for the character. One cannot review a bad book without showing off." —W. H. Auden

Today in Literary History – August 18, 1958 – Nabokov’s Lolita is first published in the US 60 years ago today

Vladimir Nabokov's controversial masterpiece Lolita was first published in the United States sixty years ago today, on August 18, 1958. It had originally been published in Paris in 1955 by Olympia Press (which specialized in "erotica") in two error-ridden volumes. It would not be be published in the UK until 1959. The novel's plot, the …

Today in Literary History – August 17, 1945 – George Orwell’s Animal Farm is published

Animal Farm, George Orwell's satirical dystopian fable, was first published on August 17, 1945. He had begun the novel in 1943 after resigning from his position at the BBC to concentrate on writing. The story of Animal Farm is one of a revolution by the barnyard animals against Farmer Jones, his wife and his hired …

Today in Literary History – August 16, 1920 – Charles Bukowski is born

The American poet and novelist Charles Bukowski was born in Germany on August 16, 1920 as Heinrich Karl Bukowski. His father was a German-American who served as a sergeant in the American army during World War I and with the army of occupation in Germany after the war. After leaving the services he stayed on in …

Thought of the Day

"Buying books would be a good thing if one could also buy the time to read them in; but, as a rule, the purchase of books is mistaken for the appropriation of their contents." — Arthur Schopenhauer

Today in Literary History – August 14, 1969 – Leonard Woolf dies

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 had been a lawyer but after he died when Woolf was eleven years old the family fell on hard …

Thought of the Day

"A bad reader is like a bad translator: he interprets literally when he ought to paraphrase, and paraphrases when he ought to interpret literally. In learning to read well, scholarship, valuable as it is, is less important than instinct; some great scholars have been poor translators." —W. H. AUDEN

Today in Literary History – August 12, 1867 – Classicist Edith Hamilton is born

Edith Hamilton, whose books popularizing Greek and Roman culture and mythology, was born on August 12, 1867. She died in 1963 at the age of ninety-five. Her books, such as The Greek Way, The Roman Way and, most especially, Mythology, introduced many readers to the ancient myths and their meanings and to the worldviews of …

Today in Literary History -August 11, 1984 -Publisher Alfred A. Knopf dies

The influential American publisher Alfred A. Knopf died on August 11, 1984 at age of ninety-one. Knopf was 22 in 1915 when he founded his own publishing house with a $5,000 loan from his father, a Jewish immigrant from Poland who had become a successful advertising executive in New York. Knopf was joined in the …


bookworm norm

Note: I reviewed this strange and wonderful book last fall when it came out in the UK. It is being published this week in the US and Canada so I decided to re-post it. -Norm

Craig Brown, a British satirist and humorist who has written for The Spectator, Private Eye and nearly every London daily newspaper at one time or another, has produced a very witty and catty book about Queen Elizabeth’s wayward younger sister called Ma’am Darling: 99 Glimpses of Princess Margaret.


In her lifetime Margaret was famous for being as rude and disagreeable as possible to nearly everyone she met. As Brown says, it was in a way her trademark or party piece. People came to almost hope for bad behavior from her to make for a juicy anecdote.

Brown’s book is certainly chock full of haughty and arrogant behaviour from Margaret, most of it verifiable or at…

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