On This Day in ELA

September 27, 1962 – Rachel Carson, a marine biologist, published her findings on the detrimental effects of synthetic pesticides on the environment in her book Silent Spring. Carson and her team of scientists expected serious backlash from the American public for the book’s claims, but instead it was widely supported by scientists alike and became serialized. The book’s publication led to a rise in environmentalism, as well as the formation of the Environmental Protection Agency under Richard Nixon. Both the Modern Library List and the National Review name Silent Spring as one of the best works of nonfiction from the 20th century.

September 26, 1888 – Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri. In 1914 Eliot studied in Oxford, which began a lifelong preferral to life in England. In 1927, Eliot became a British citizen and converted to Anglicanism. T.S. Eliot remains a leading voice in poetry, with his works from The Waste Land and “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” still being widely taught today.

September 25, 1897 – William Faulkner was born in New Albany, Mississippi. Faulkner wrote throughout his lifetime, but didn’t become widely known until he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1949. His novels The Sound and the Fury, Light in August and As I Lay Dying are among the top works of American writers. Furthermore, his short story “A Rose For Emily” is one of the most widely taught short stories today.

September 24, 1896 – Francis Scott Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, MN. Born to an upper middle class family, Fitzgerald moved to New York with his family and eventually studied at Princeton. He and his fabulous wife, Zelda, became celebrities and frequently socialized with other writers, including Ernest Hemingway. The Fitzgeralds were volatile, due to Zelda’s mental health issues (she was later hospitalized with schizophrenia) and Scott’s excessive drinking habits. He died at the age of 44 from heart failure in Hollywood, California.

September 23, 1973 – Chilean poet Pablo Neruda died in the hospital after suffering from prostate cancer. Only two years earlier, Neruda had been awarded the Nobel Prize, however, his diagnosis and political involvement made life increasingly hard to live. He was reported to have called his wife from the hospital only hours before he died. He complained that “they were giving him something that didn’t feel good,” and rumors circulated later that he may not have died of natural causes. To this day, an investigation into Neruda’s death is ongoing, as it was recently discovered that he actually died of a staph infection, which could have possibly been given through an injection from someone who wanted him dead.

September 22, 1598 – Author and playwright Ben Jonson was indicted on the charge of manslaughter for killing fellow actor, Gabriel Spenser, in a duel. He was saved from hanging for his ability to read a bible verse. He was branded on his thumb and imprisoned for a short time, where he converted to Catholicism. Jonson’s career was largely unaffected from the crime and sentencing, as he was a successful playwright in his lifetime, being on the same level of fame as his contemporary, William Shakespeare.

September 21, 1866 – Author H.G. Wells was born in Kent, England. Wells is remembered for his influence in the genre of science fiction, including the publications of “The War of the Worlds,” “The Invisible Man,” and “The Time Machine.” Wells was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four separate times. Separate from literature, Wells is remembered for founding The Diabetic Association, now known as Diabetes UK, in 1934.

September 20, 1948 – George R. R. Martin, author of the best-selling A Song of Ice and Fire series, was born in Bayonne, New Jersey. After the sudden death of good friend and fellow writer Tom Reamy in 1977, Martin decided to quit his teaching job and become a full time writer. In 1982 his novel Fevre Dream became a modest success, launching his career as a novelist. Today he can be found writing for the series Game of Thrones, as avid readers impatiently await his return to the novels rather than writing for the show.

September 19 – Hermione Granger turns 39 today! Hermione is beloved by fans for intelligence, loyalty, and almost overwhelming desire to do the right thing, not to mention her brilliant portrayal by the elegant @emmawatson Don’t forget to don your S.P.E.W. pins in honor of Ms. Granger today!

September 18, 1917 – British author Aldous Huxley, best known as the writer of Brave New World, was hired at Eton to teach French. One of his students was Eric Blair, who would later become famous under his pen name, George Orwell.

September 17, 1996 – The first selection of Oprah’s Book Club, Jacquelyn Mitchard’s The Deep End of the Ocean, was announced. During the show’s run, Oprah’s Book Club selected 70 titles to be a part of the book club. Books bearing the “Oprah’s Book Club” seal are reported to have sold over 55 million copies. Some of her selected works of fiction include Middlesex by David Eugenides, The Road by Cormac McCarthy, and Love in the Time of Cholera.

September 16, 1943 – James Alan McPherson, fiction writer and memoirist, was born in Iowa City, Iowa. In 1978 he became the first African American recipient of the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, for his collection of short stories, “Elbow Room.”

September 15, 1890 – Mystery novelist Agatha Christie was born in Devon, England. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time, having sold over 2 billion books, and being third in all time sales behind the Bible and Shakespeare. She is also the writer of The Mousetrap, the longest continuous-running play of all time, which has been showing in London’s West End since 1952.

September 14, 1814 – Francis Scott Key, a lawyer, witnessed the British attack on Fort McHenry in Maryland. To his surprise, the Fort withstood the day-long attack, and Key was inspired to see a hand-sewn American flag flying over the fort afterwards. He began drafting a poem about the event, which eventually became known as the “Defence of Fort M’Henry.” The poem was printed in handbills and newspapers, including the Baltimore Patriot. The poem was later set to the tune of a drinking song, “To Anacreon in Heaven,” and came to be called “The Star-Spangled Banner.”

September 13, 1916 – Roald Dahl was born in Wales. Dahl rose to fame for his delightful and engaging children’s works, including James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The BFG, and Matilda. Dahl passed away in 1990.
In 2006 the UK designated September 13 National Roald Dahl Day, celebrating the national author’s impact on children’s literature. The whole month is filled with Dahl-themed events and activities, including a dress up day for children in schools. Happy Roald Dahl Day!

September 12, 1846 – Poet Elizabeth Barrett eloped with poet Robert Browning because her father wouldn’t approve of her marriage in London, the two honeymooned in Paris and then moved to Italy. The two remained loyal to each other until Barrett Browning’s death in 1861.

September 11, 2001 – Thousands of Americans died in the World Trade Center attacks, permanently affecting American culture for the first decade of the 2000s.  The experience touched every American, and something like that has a ripple effect into every aspect of life, including literature. Several literary works have emerged that discuss 9/11, including: – “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer
– “Netherland” by Joseph O’Neill
– “The Emperor’s Children” by Claire Messud
– “Falling Man” by Don Delillo
– “The Good Life” by Jay McInerney

September 10, 1797 – Author and feminist Mary Wollstonecraft died of septicemia in London, 11 days after giving birth to her daughter, Mary Godwin Wollstonecraft (later Mary Shelley). Her husband, philosopher and author William Godwin, was devastated by her loss. He said, “I firmly believe there does not exist her equal in the world. I know from experience we were formed to make each other happy. I have not the least expectation that I can now ever know happiness again.” As the feminist movement grew, Wollstonecraft’s writings, particularly her book “A Vindication of the Rights of Women,” grew increasingly influential.

September 9, 1934 – American poet Sonia Sanchez was born in Birmingham, Alabama. Sanchez emerged as a leading black voice in the Civil Rights movement and was highly influenced by Malcolm X. Her poetry, which has won her the Robert Frost Award, is highly musical and contains influences of Langston Hughes and the blues.

September 8, 1933 – Playwright and novelist Michael Frayn was born in Middlesex, England. Frayn’s plays (Noises Off and Democracy) and novels (Headlong and The Tin Men) have been universally successful, making Frayn one of the writers who has found commercial success in writing both drama and prose.

September 7, 1996 – Rapper Tupac Shakur was shot four times in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas. He died in the hospital six days later. Although he died at only 25 years old, Tupac’s legacy is powerful in the world of hip hop, race relations, and poetry. Tupac’s words have heavily influenced current methods of teaching poetry to teenagers, and were heavily discussed in the themes of Angie Thomas’ novel, The Hate U Give.

September 6, 1666 – The Great Fire of London finally burned out, resulting in a devastating loss to 70,000 of the city’s 80,000 homes. Famous diarist Samuel Pepys recorded some of the fire’s devastation in his diary: “So down [I went], with my heart full of trouble, to the Lieutenant of the Tower, who tells me that it began this morning in the King’s baker’s house in Pudding Lane, and that it hath burned St. Magnus’s Church and most part of Fish Street already. So I rode down to the waterside, . . . and there saw a lamentable fire. . . . Everybody endeavouring to remove their goods, and flinging into the river or bringing them into lighters that lay off; poor people staying in their houses as long as till the very fire touched them, and then running into boats, or clambering from one pair of stairs by the waterside to another. And among other things, the poor pigeons, I perceive, were loth to leave their houses, but hovered about the windows and balconies, till they some of them burned their wings and fell down.” – The Diary of Samuel Pepys

September 5, 1750 – Scottish poet Robert Fergusson was born Edinburgh. Fergusson excelled in writing poetry in the Scottish dialect, but he suffered from severe depression. After sustaining a head injury he was committed to a mental hospital, where he died at the young age of 24. His short life had a larger impact on Scottish readers, as well as on Robert Burns, who used his style of poetry to influence his own, becoming the most famous Scottish poet of all time.

September 4, 1908 – American author Richard Wright was born in Roxie, Mississippi. Wright’s works, especially his most significant novels, Native Son and Black Boy, exposed the plight of modern African-Americans and influenced race relations in the Civil Rights era.

September 3, 1980 – Legendary actor Peter O’Toole returned to the stage after a 17 year absence from the theater in the cursed role of Macbeth. O’Toole was apparently spooked by the legendary curse of the Scottish play and refused to let anyone in the cast use it by its name. The production suffered from blunders and bad luck, and O’Toole’s performance was universally panned by critics, with some calling it “gruesome” and “heroically ludicrous.” Nonetheless, the play still had a successful run and theater-goers attended without fail.

September 2, 1918 – Pulitzer Prize-winning author Allen Drury was born in Houston, Texas. Drury is best known for his political novel, Advise and Consent, published in 1959.

September 1, 1952 – Hemingway’s The Old Man and the Sea was published in Life Magazine. The magazine sold five million copies in only two days and launched Hemingway to new levels of celebrity. Two years later it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize.

August 31, 1946 – The New Yorker dedicated an entire issue to telling the stories of six survivors of the attack on Hiroshima. John Hersey’s landmark work of reporting took four years of interviewing and composition. It was originally meant to be a four-part serial, but the editors chose instead to devote an entire issue toward the piece.

August 30, 1797 – British author Mary Shelley was born in London, England. Shelley was born to famous parents, William Godwin and Mary Wollstonecraft. When she fell in love with Percy Bysshe Shelley, she eloped with him and traveled Europe with a group of free-thinking writers. She wrote Frankenstein on a dare, resulting in one of the most enduring works of science fiction and gothic horror. Despite the novel’s brilliance, the Shelleys struggled to gain acceptance due to their debts and bad reputation. Mary died at the age of 53, still maintaining her own authorship of Frankenstein, which many believed was really written by her more famous husband.

August 29, 1838 – The Grimm Brothers began their ambitious lifelong task of creating the first German dictionary. Their first volume, only getting through most of the ‘F,’s was published in in 1848. The completed dictionary wasn’t published until 1961, 123 years after its initial inception.

August 28, 1963 – Civil Rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his historic “I Have a Dream” speech in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom. This speech is known for its inspirational use of voice, allusions, and rhetorical devices, ranking it as the most influential American speech of the 20th century among a poll of scholars.

August 27, 1912 – American author Edgar Rice Burroughs published his first book in his popular novel series, Tarzan of the Apes. Ray Bradbury described the influence of this book and of Burroughs, saying, “By giving romance and adventure to a whole generation of boys, Burroughs caused them to go out and decide to become special.”

August 26, 1885 – French poet Jules Romains was born in the Haute-Loire. Romains was the founder of Unanimism, a principle which rejected the works of the individual and focused more on literary as representative of a whole.

August 25, 1885 – Laura Ingalls, author of the beloved Little House on the Prairie books, married Almanzo Wilder and moved to their new homestead in De Smet, North Dakota. Although the two were married for 64 years, their first few years of marriage were filled with hardships, including the loss of their 12-day-old son, the loss of their barn to a fire, and Almanzo’s partial paralysis from a bout of diphtheria.

August 24, 79 AD – 17-year-old Pliny the Younger witnessed the eruption of Vesuvius, which became famous when written in a letter to Tacitus 25 years later. Pliny’s descriptions of the eruption and ash patterns actually influenced modern scientists and helped them learn about volcanic surges.

August 23, 1868 – Author Edgar Lee Masters was born in Garnett, Kansas. He is best remembered for writing The Spoon River Anthology, but he was also author to 12 plays, 21books of poetry, 6 novels and 6 biographies.

August 22, 1893 – Essayist, poet, and playwright Dorothy Parker was born in Long Branch, New Jersey. Parker was a frequent contributor to The New Yorker and was a founding member of the Algonquin Round Table, until her left-wing political views led to her eventual blacklisting during the McCarthy Trials. She was a longstanding advocate for Civil Rights causes, and when she died in 1967, she bequeathed her entire estate to Martin Luther King Jr.

August 21, 1920 – A.A. Milne’s son, Christopher Robin, was born in London. Christopher Robin and the teddy bear he received for his first birthday inspired Milne’s beloved Winnie-the-Pooh characters.

August 20, 1890 – Horror writer H. P. Lovecraft was born in Providence, Rhode Island. Although his novels and short stories are currently celebrated among fans of horror and “weird fiction,” Lovecraft never experienced any commercial success or recognition for his written works during his lifetime. He died penniless and malnourished at the age of 46.

August 19, 1692 – Five citizens of Salem were put to death for witchcraft during the Salem Witch Trials. Martha Carrier, George Jacobs Sr., George Burroughs, John Willard, and John Proctor were condemned on spectral evidence and hanged before an audience of townspeople, inciting a feeling of fear and judgment that ran rampant throughout New England for over a year.

August 18, 1958 – Vladimir Nabokov’s controversial novel, Lolita, was published in America, two years after its original publication in Paris. Although the book’s sexual content got it banned in France and England, it went unnoticed by censors in America and was quite well-received.

August 17, 1946 – George Orwell published his totalitarian novella, Animal Farm, in Great Britain. This astounding work not only reflected Stalin’s rise to dictatorship and abuse of power but actually prophesied events to come in the future with the Cold War.

August 16, 1920 – Charles Bukowski, born Heinreich Karl Bukowski, was born in the Rhine Province of Germany. Bukowski became for his gritty poetry and short story fiction, as well as his masculine bravado and strong drinking habits. He died in 1994 of leukemia.

August 15, 1771 – Walter Scott was born in Edinburgh, Scotland. Because of a bout with polio as a child, Scott was severely handicapped, causing him to spend a lot of time reading and studying in his youth. After university Scott became a translator and then a writer, eventually producing hits such as Ivanhoe and Rob Roy. Some believe him to be the originator of the modern historical novel.

August 14, 1963 – American playwright Clifford Odets of Philadelphia passed away in LA of stomach cancer. Odets, best known for his plays The Golden Boy and Waiting for Lefty, was summoned before the HUAC and worked with Elia Kazan to name identical Communist suspects. Although he was never officially blacklisted, his career struggled to recover for years after his HUAC appearance.

August 13, 1976 – Author and historian H.G. Wells died in London at the age of 79. Wells was a celebrated futurist and science fiction writer, best known for his hits The Time Machine, The War of the Worlds, and The Invisible Man. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize in Literature four separate times, but never won.

August 12, 1937 – Author Walter Dean Myers was born in Martinsburg, West Virginia. Myers is best remembered for his achievements in children’s and young adult literature, including Monster, Fallen Angels, and Hoops. Before his death in 2014, Myers was awarded the Coretta Scott King award five times.

August 11, 1921 – Author Alex Haley was born in Ithaca, New York. Haley found success with the publication of a biography on Malcolm X, but shot to stardom after his book, Roots: The Saga of an American Family, was adapted into a miniseries in 1977. Roots reached over 130 million viewers, breaking numerous television records and raising public awareness in African American history and genealogy.

August 10, 1962 – American author Suzanne Collins, best known for her young adult series sensation The Hunger Games, was born in Hartford, Connecticut.

August 9, 1854 – Henry David Thoreau published his transcendentalist work on self-reliance, Walden, reflecting on the two years, two months, and two days spent living in isolation near Walden’s Pond near Concord, Massachusetts. Although the publication was a slow success, it now stands as one of America’s most celebrated works of literature.

August 8, 1818 – 22-year-old John Keats returned home from a two month walking tour of Scotland, showing the early symptoms of tuberculosis, which would eventually take his life three years later. It is conjectured that Keats contracted the disease after caring for his brother Tom, who also had the disease.

August 7, 1606 – According to rumor, Shakespeare’s tragedy Macbeth was performed for King James I for the very first time.

August 6, 1637 – English playwright, poet, and critic Ben Jonson died in in London, England. Jonson lived as a contemporary of Shakespeare, but eventually rose to be a favorite of King James I and a royal patron of the monarch. His poetry and plays are still taught in English classes around the world today.

August 5, 1850 – French writer Guy de Maupassant was born in the Normandy region. Maupassant has become known as one of the masters of the short story, with classics such as “The Necklace” still being taught in ELA classrooms around the world.

August 4, 1913 – Poet Robert Hayden was born in Detroit Michigan. Hayden’s achievements in poetry led to his appointment as the first African American Poet Laureate.

August 3, 1861 – Charles Dickens published his last installment of Great Expectations. The novel was originally published in nine monthly serials in the publication Harper’s Weekly. Each section was met with greatly positive reviews from critics and general readers alike. Today it stands out as one of Dickens’ most important novels.

August 2, 1869 – Mary Anne Evans begins writing her novel Middlemarch under the pen name George Eliot. This book, published in 1871, is considered by critics to be her best work, although it was met with mixed reviews upon its publication.

July 31, 1956 – British author JK Rowling is born in Gloucestershire, England. Rowling shot to immediate fame after the publication of her immensely popular children’s book, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, starring a scarred boy who shared the same birthday. Today, Rowling is one of the wealthiest women in the world, as well as being an generous charitable donor.

July 30, 1935 – The first paperback books were published by Penguin Books in the UK. Paperbacks have been a vital invention to increase literacy among the general population and in getting books in public schools. For this reason July 30 is National Paperback Book Day!

July 29, 1954 – J. R. R. Tolkien publishes his first volume of the Lord of the Ring series, The Fellowship of the Ring. The book was met with mostly favorable reviews, which only improved as the rest of the series was published in the following years. Recently, The Lord of the Rings series has been compared to Paradise Lost in terms of its cultural significance.

July 28, 1814 – Percy Bysshe Shelley abandons his wife and “elopes” with Mary Godwin, who is only 16. Although the two ran off to marry, this was impossible as Shelley had an existing wife. The couple caused quite the scandal until the two were legally married two years later, after the suicide of Shelley’s wife.

July 26, 1856 – Playwright George Bernard Shaw was born in Dublin. In his lifetime Shaw wrote over 60 plays and earned the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1925.

July 25, 1941 – Emmett Till was born in Chicago. At the age of 14, Emmett was brutally mutilated, shot, and thrown in a river for whistling at a white woman. His mother’s insistence on an open casket opened many’s eyes to the brutality of Jim Crow laws and made Till a historic icon of the Civil Rights movement. Emmett Till has been honored in poems, songs, plays, and novels, and was likely an influence on Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird.

July 24, 1901 – William Sydney Porter, known by his pen name as O. Henry, was released from a three year prison sentence on embezzlement charges. It appears that while O. Henry was a brilliant writer, he was a rather careless banker, resulting in a two year run from the law, where the author hid from the government in Honduras. Although he served three years in prison, Porter continued to write under a pen name, publishing 14 stories while he was in jail.

July 23, 1888 – American novelist and screenwriter Raymond Chandler was born in Chicago. After losing his job in the Great Depression, Chandler found more time to write, publishing The Big Sleep in 1939. He wrote several more novels and short stories, and is credited with creating the “hard-boiled detective” stock character in literature and films.

July 22, 1948 – Young adult author S. E. Hinton is born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Hinton became a household name when she published the groundbreaking YA novel The Outsiders, which she wrote when she was only 16 years old. The Outsiders was one of the first books targeted to teens, and it is often credited for originating the young adult fiction genre.

July 21, 2007 – The final installment of the Harry Potter series is published. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows was met with extremely favorable reviews and currently holds the Guinness World Record for most book sales in a 24 hour period.

July 20, 1933 – Cormac McCarthy was born in Providence, Rhode Island. McCarthy’s prose has shaped contemporary fiction, including hits such as Blood Meridian, All the Pretty Horses, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, The Road.

July 19, 2009 – Author and educator Frank McCourt dies at the age of 78. McCourt’s memoir Angela’s Ashes, which depicted his poverty-stricken upbringing in Ireland, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1996.

July 18, 1937 – Hunter S. Thompson is born in Louisville, Kentucky. Thompson rose to fame after reporting on his time spent living with the famed motorcycle group, Hell’s Angels. His new first-person style of reporting was eventually dubbed “gonzo journalism” and he became most famous for his novel, Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

July 17, 1947 – Jack Kerouac embarks on his first cross-country road trip with friends “in search of God.” His journals from this trip and subsequent trips across America eventually formed his groundbreaking novel, On the Road.

July 16, 1927 – Theodore Geisel publishes his first cartoon under the nickname “Dr. Seuss” in the magazine, The Judge. For the next few years that publication featured four of his covers and over 200 individual cartoons.

July 15, 1838 – Ralph Waldo Emerson shocks listeners when he gives the commencement address at Harvard Divinity School, his alma mater. In his speech he credited Jesus as being a great man, but not God. Despite the large outcry of critics, Emerson made no reply. He was not invited back to Harvard for thirty years.

July 14, 1811 – Lord Byron returns to England after a two year trip through the Mediterranean. Shortly after his return he published Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage, which brought him instant popularity. Byron said, “I awoke one morning and found myself famous.” Byron’s fame would greatly influence his flamboyant lifestyle and controversial romantic choices.

July 13, 2004 – Nadine Gordimer, South African writer and activist, died. Gordimer was an active critic of apartheid and advised Nelson Mendela in writing his most famous speeches. Though her works Burger’s Daughter and July’s People were banned during the apartheid era, she was eventually given recognition she deserved and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1991.

July 12, 1817 – Henry David Thoreau was born in Concord, Massachusetts. Thoreau’s writings touch on almost every subject, including civics, environmentalism, history, and philosophy. He is best known for his book Walden, explaining his views on living simply in nature.

July 11, 1960 – Harper Lee’s masterpiece To Kill a Mockingbird was published by J. B. Lippincott & Co. When first published, Lee was told to only expect to sell about a thousand copies. Instead, it was featured in Reader’s Digest and became an immediate bestseller. To this date, it has never been out of print.

July 10, 1871 – Marcel Proust was born in Auteuil, France. Proust’s monumental work, À la Recherche du Temps Perdu (In Search of Lost Time), consists of seven volumes, over 4000 pages and more than 2000 characters!

July 9, 1764 – Ann Radcliffe is born in Holborn, London. Radcliffe wrote The Italian, for which she was paid so well she became the highest paid author in the 1790s. Although her works do not contain as many supernatural elements, she is considered the founder of the Gothic novel.

July 8, 1918 – Ernest Hemingway is wounded in a battle in Italy. His hospitalization in Milan led to him meeting and falling in love with his nurse, Agnes von Kurowsky. Though Kurowsky would eventually leave him for another man, Hemingway based the character Catherine Barkley from A Farewell to Arms on her.

July 7, 1930 – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle dies at the age of 71. After a successful writing career, in which he created the beloved character Sherlock Holmes, Doyle was found clutching his chest in his home office. His dying words, directed to his wife, were, “You are wonderful.”

July 6, 1942 – Anne Frank and her family enter the “Secret Annex” above an office building in Amsterdam and remain in hiding for a little more than 2 years. Anne’s diary became a monument in literature and Anne was named one of TIME magazine’s most important people in the century, saying, “With a diary kept in a secret attic, she braved the Nazis and lent a searing voice to the fight for human dignity.”

July 5, 1880 – George Bernard Shaw quits his job at the successful Edison Telephone Company to become a full time writer at the age of 23. This decision was ultimately a wise one, as the writer of Pygmalion and other plays was eventually awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1925.

July 4, 1862 – Lewis Carroll began writing his masterpiece, Alice in Wonderland, after telling a simple tale to a friend’s daughter, Alice Liddell. Little Alice liked the story so much she begged him to write it down, resulting in a novel which is a wonder of imagination, and having the titular character named after her.

July 3, 1883 – Franz Kafka was born in Prague. Kafka became one of the best writers of the 20th century, known for his absurdist and existentialist themes.

July 2, 1961 – Ernest Hemingway, beloved American author and journalist, committed suicide in Ketchum, Idaho. Hemingway led a vigorous life, filled with adventures and love affairs, but a series of plane accidents left him suffering from physical pain, poor eyesight, and depression. Hemingway was subjected to electroshock therapy to treat his growing paranoia and depression, but he eventually shot himself in the entryway of his Idaho home.

July 1, 1804 – Amantine Lucile Aurore Dupin, known by her pen name as George Sand, was born in France. Dupin was groundbreaking in women’s rights and female authorship, publishing over 70 novels and plays. She also made waves for her many romantic affairs and her affinity for smoking in public and wearing men’s clothes, simply because they were “sturdier and less expensive.” You may be familiar with her most famous quote, “There is only one happiness in life, to love and be loved.”

June 30, 1911 – Czesław Miłosz, Polish poet, writer, and diplomat was born in what is now Lithuania. Miłosz worked in Warsaw under the Nazis but secretly helped several Jews escape from his government. In 1953 his book, The Captive Mind, discussed how captives behave under an oppressive government and criticized Stalin and all forms of totalitarianism. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1980.

June 29, 1613 – Shakespeare’s Globe Theatre burned down after a cannon blast in a performance of Henry VIII went awry. Thankfully, a new theater was rebuilt in 1614, and eventually a replica, like the one in this picture, appeared along the River Thames for Shakespeare lovers (like me!) to enjoy!

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