Today in Literary History – May 9, 1860 – “Peter Pan” author J.M. Barrie is born

J.M. Barrie, the playwright and novelist who created Peter Pan, “the boy who wouldn't grow up," was born on May 9, 1860 to a Scottish Calvinist family. Barrie had an eventful and in many ways a terribly sad life. Barrie was the ninth of 10 children. When he was 6 his next oldest brother, David, …

Today in Literary History – May 6, 1895 – Oscar Wilde is arrested on charges of “gross indecency”

The year 1895 was the beginning of the end for the great Irish playwright, novelist and wit, Oscar Wilde. It began well enough, with Wilde's masterpiece, The Importance of Being Earnest, opening at St James's Theatre on February 14 to great acclaim. But, four days later the Marquess of Queensberry (famed for his rules of …

Today in Literary History – May 5, 1927 – Virginia Woolf’s “To the Lighthouse” is published

To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf’s fifth novel, was published on May 5, 1927. It was published in a run of 3000 copies by Hogarth Press, a publishing company set up and managed by Woolf and her husband Leonard, with a cover designed by her sister Vanessa Bell. The novel is presented in three sections, and …

Today in Literary History – May 4, 1939 – James Joyce’s “Finnegan’s Wake” is published

James Joyce's final book, the famously impenetrable novel Finnegan's Wake, was published on May 4, 1939, two years before Joyce's death and at a time when he was almost completely blind and in poor health. Joyce had been working on fragments of the novel since 1923 and extracts had been published in various small magazines …

Also On This Day in Literary History – May 2, 1611 – The King James Bible is published – from Bookworm Norm 2018

The magisterial translation of the Bible that came to be known as The King James Version was first published on May 2, 1611. It is arguably the most important and influential book in the English language; its theological importance aside, it has given the English language countless phrases and allusions in its over 400 year …

Today in Literary History- May 2, 1859 – “Three Men in a Boat” author Jerome K. Jerome is born

Jerome K. Jerome, the Victorian era humorist and the author of the charming book Three Men in a Boat, was born on May 2, 1859. Jerome's father (an eccentric ironmonger who was also a lay preacher) was named Jerome Clapp, but at some point and for some unknown reason he changed his name to Jerome Clapp …

Today in Literary History – May 1, 1923 -“Catch-22” author Joseph Heller is born

The American novelist Joseph Heller, best known for his anti-war satire Catch-22, was born on May 1, 1923 in Brooklyn, New Nork. His parents were Jewish immigrants from Russia and he grew up in relative poverty. He joined the US Army Air Corps in 1942 as America was entering World War II. He was eventually …

Also On This Day in Literary History – From Bookworm Norm 2018 – April 27, 1932 – poet Hart Crane dies

American poet Hart Crane died by suicide on April 27, 1932, at the age of thirty-two. He was on a ship returning to New York from Mexico when he threw himself overboard in the Gulf of Mexico. His body was never recovered. Crane grew up in Cleveland, Ohio, the only son of parents who fought …

Today in Literary History – April 27, 1898 – Ludwig Bemelmans, author of the “Madeleine” books, is born

Ludwig Bemelmans, the author and illustrator of the beloved children's book series Madeleine, was born on April 27, 1898 in what was then a western part of Tyrol in the Austro-Hungarian Empire but is now in Italy. He published the first of the Madeleine books, charming stories told in rhyme about a precocious Parisian orphan, …

Today in Literary History – April 26, 2004 – “Last Exit to Brooklyn” author Hubert Selby Jr. dies

Hubert Selby Jr., the American writer best known for his controversial first novel Last Exit to Brooklyn, died in California on April 26, 2004 at the age of 75. In a sense, however, Selby had been on the brink of death for most of his life. He battled drug and alcohol addiction through much of …

Today in Literary History – from Bookworm Norm 2018

Today in Literary History – April 25, 1719 – Daniel Defoe’s “Robinson Crusoe” is published Daniel Defoe’s The Life and Strange Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner was first published on April 25, 1719. The story of an English sailor marooned for 28 years on a deserted island off the coast of South America, it was a …

Thought of the Day

“All religions are equally sublime to the ignorant, useful to the politician, and ridiculous to the philosopher.” – Lucretius