Thursday, May 31, 2012

Walt Whitman, America's poet

Walt Whitman
It is the birthday of poet Walt Whitman (1819), whose poetry collection Leaves of Grass became his defining work. Whitman should be the patron saint of self-publishing. He published the first volume of his work in 1855, set the type himself for much of it and paid for the printing. Whitman had learned the printing trade as a lad and worked as a journalist for several newspapers. But what he really wanted to do was write poetry, and he kept at it all his life.

Leaves of Grass found an immediate audience, and drew immediate criticism as well. Whitman sent a copy of it to poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, who was by then a prominent poet. Emerson's praise for the book spurred him to continue work on it all his life. Emerson had written an essay noting the need for a truly American poet, writing of the young country's culture. Whitman's vision was to make Leaves of Grass an epic, with no less a model than Homer's Iliad and Odyssey.

Scholars can't agree on just how many editions there were (it depends on how you count editions) but there were at least six and maybe as many as nine. The volume grew from a thin book of 12 poems to a 384-page second edition. Whitman continued to revise and rework his book throughout his life, even working on it as he lay ill in bed at the end of his life. His so-called "deathbed edition" was published in 1891-92.

The book engendered plenty of criticism, especially for its sexual imagery and frank treatment of death. Whitman really didn't seem to care about his detractors, even though the book cost him one of his many jobs—a nice one at the Department of the Interior in Washington, D.C. At one point, he refused to remove portions of the book objected to by his publisher, choosing instead to find another publisher.

Whitman left a huge legacy. Critic Harold Bloom included Leaves of Grass on an American literature must-read list along with Moby-Dick and Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Whitman was a hero of the Beat Generation. Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and Gary Snyder all admired him. Composers Benjamin Britten, Leonard Bernstein, Frederick Delius, Kurt Weill, and Ralph Vaughan Williams wrote music to some of his poetry. Expatriate poet Ezra Pound called him "America's poet."

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Countee Cullen, Harlem Renaissance poet

Countee Cullen
It is the birthday of poet Countee Cullen (1903), who came to prominence during the Harlem Renaissance. He started writing poetry in high school, where he helped edit the school literary magazine and served as editor of the school newspaper. He began at New York University in 1921, where he wrote most of the poems that appeared in his first three poetry volumes, Color (1925), Copper Sun (1927) and The Ballad of the Brown Girl (1927). He was known for writing in a style that emulated John Keats and Percy Bysshe Shelley—sonnets and quatrains and so forth. He also was influenced by William Wordsworth and William Blake. He won several prizes for poetry during the 1920s, including one from the Urban League's Opportunity magazine, for which he served as an editor. He was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, and entered Harvard in 1925, where he earned a masters degree. In 1928, he married Yolande Du Bois, daughter of W.E.B. Du Bois, in a lavish wedding but the marriage lasted only two years. Later he taught French at Frederick Douglass Junior High School in New York. He died at the age of 42. Among his best known poems is Yet Do I Marvel: I doubt not God is good, well-meaning, kind/And did He stoop to quibble could tell why/The little buried mole continues blind,/Why flesh that mirrors Him must someday die,/Make plain the reason tortured Tantalus/Is baited by the fickle fruit, declare/If merely brute caprice dooms Sisyphus/To struggle up a never-ending stair./Inscrutable His ways are, and immune/To catechism by a mind too strewn/With petty cares to slightly understand/What awful brains compels His awful hand./Yet do I marvel at this curious thing:/To make a poet black, and bid him sing!

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Happy birthday, G.K. Chesterton

G.K. Chesterton
It is the birthday of English writer G.K. Chesterton (1874), a prolific author who wrote more than 80 books, 200 short stories, 4,000 essays, and hundreds of poems. Chesterton was best known for his witty philosophical commentary and his formidable cases for Christianity, laid out in his Orthodoxy (1908) and The Everlasting Man (1925). Orthodoxy was really an account of how he came to see Christianity as the answer to natural human needs. In it, he makes the case that it is the answer not only for him personally but for all of mankind. He wrote The Everlasting Man as a rebuttal to H.G. Wells' Outline of History (1919), disputing Wells' portrayal of Jesus Christ as merely another charismatic figure. Chesterton is also known for a series of detective stories featuring Father Brown, a stumpy parish priest whose powers of intuition and understanding of the criminal mind (through hearing confessions) serve him well to solve murders. The 52 short stories in the series were compiled into five volumes, The Innocence of Father Brown (1911), The Wisdom of Father Brown (1914), The Incredulity of Father Brown (1926), The Secret of Father Brown (1927), and The Scandal of Father Brown (1935). Chesterton was a friend of Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Clarence Darrow, and Oscar Wilde, with whom he delighted in engaging in friendly but always respectful philosophical debates. In Orthodoxy, Chesterton wrote of making sacrifices for the gift of creation: "Oscar Wilde said that sunsets were not valued because we could not pay for sunsets. But Oscar Wilde was wrong; we can pay for sunsets. We can pay for them by not being Oscar Wilde."

Friday, May 25, 2012

He wrote 'It was a dark and stormy night'

Edward Bulwer-Lytton
It is the birthday of Victorian novelist Edward Bulwer-Lytton (1803), who may have been the master of the cliché, though he certainly didn't start out that way. Bulwer-Lytton is credited with the phrases "the pen is mightier than the sword" and "it was a dark and stormy night," among others, and was satirized by Edgar Allan Poe, Madeleine L'Engle and even Snoopy in the Peanuts comic strip. Bulwer-Lytton served as a member of Parliament, and at one time was Secretary of State for the Colonies, but it is his writing for which he is most remembered. He made a considerable fortune turning out quite popular dime novels. It's a good thing he was successful as a writer. His mother cut off his allowance when he married an Irish beauty, Rosina Wheeler, against her wishes. He had a tempestuous private life. His marriage to Rosina ended in divorce after his indiscretions. Rosina published a fictional version of their life that bordered on libel. When he ran for Parliament, his ex denounced him publicly and he retaliated with vengeance. He threatened her publisher, refused to let her visit their children, cut off her allowance and, eventually, had her committed to a mental institution. She was released after a few weeks and much public outrage. She continued public ridicule of her ex-husband and wrote of his attacks in her memoir, A Blighted Life (1880). As popular as he was in his own time, his writing has spawned a Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest in which contestants submit opening lines in the vein of the author's Paul Clifford (1830): "It was a dark and stormy night; the rain fell in torrents—except at occasional intervals, when it was checked by a violent gust of wind which swept up the streets (for it is in London that our scene lies), rattling along the housetops, and fiercely agitating the scanty flame of the lamps that struggled against the darkness." Snoopy, where are you when we need you?

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Sir Arthur Pinero, knighted for drama

Sir Arthur Wing Pinero
It is the birthday of English dramatist Sir Arthur Wing Pinero (1855), who wrote 59 plays (mostly social dramas), including His House in Order, The Enchanted Cottage, Dandy Dick, The Actress, and The Magistrate, all of which were adapted as films in the 1920s. One of his plays, Sweet Lavender, contained the famous line, "While there is tea, there is hope." Before he started writing plays and directing them, Pinero was a successful actor, playing at the Theatre Royal in Edinburgh, the Lyceum Theatre and the Haymarket Theatre in London. He and William S. Gilbert (of Gilbert and Sullivan) were the only two Englishmen ever to be knighted because of their services to drama alone. Pinero wrote strong parts for leading ladies but often found that headstrong actresses would play scenes far differently than he had imagined them. Over time, he found a solution for the problem. At the beginning of rehearsal he explained quite loudly how we intended a scene to be played. Then he watched as the actress played it her own way. He'd interrupt the scene and shout "Perfect Perfect! Play it exactly like that on the night." Invariably, during the performance the actress would play it his way instead.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Thomas Hood wrote of London poverty

Thomas Hood
It is the birthday of English poet and humorist Thomas Hood (1799), whose best-known poem, The Song of the Shirt (1843), appeared in Punch Magazine and was taken up as an anthem by social activists defending the working poor in London's slums. The poem told the story of a widow who lived in abject poverty with her sickly and malnourished children. She worked as a seamstress but made so little she couldn't support her family. She pawned the clothing she made to feed her starving infants, and when she couldn't pay her debt, she was sent to a workhouse. "With fingers weary and worn,/With eyelids heavy and red,/A woman sat in unwomanly rags,/Plying her needle and thread—/Stitch! Stitch! Stitch!/In poverty, hunger, and dirt,/And still with a voice of dolorous pitch/She sang 'The Song of the Shirt! Charles Dickens was a contemporary, and a fan. Hood's father, also Thomas, was a London bookseller, and was said to have done well establishing book trade with America and selling new editions of old books. At the age of 22, Hood became a sub-editor of London Magazine and met such literary luminaries as Allan Cunningham, Henry Cary, Thomas de Quincey and Charles Lamb.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Happy birthday, Richard Wagner

It is the birthday of German composer Richard Wagner (1813), who wrote not only the music but also he libretto for his numerous operas. He introduced the idea of musical signatures for various main characters. Perhaps one of his best known pieces is the Ride of the Valkyries from Die Walküre. Enjoy!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Alexander Pope translated Homer

Alexander Pope
It is the birthday of English poet Alexander Pope (1688), whose translation of Homer's Iliad and Odyssey helped provide him with sufficient income to make a living totally on his writing. The Iliad was published in six volumes published between 1715 and 1720. He did all the work alone. The Odyssey was published in 24 volumes in 1726, but it was a daunting task and Pope sought the help of two other translators, though he tried to keep that fact a secret. In truth he only translated half of the work. Pope's secret got out and his reputation was tarnished for a time. Pope's work was quite popular in his lifetime but it gained him enemies as well as friends. His 1725 edition of Shakespeare's works earned criticism because he rewrote some of the verses and reduced more than 1,500 lines to footnotes, arguing that they were so bad Shakespeare clearly hadn't written them. Of Pope's own work, An Essay on Criticism (1711) was popular at the time but his most enduring poem is The Rape of the Lock (1712), a satirical verse that pokes fun at the dispute between a beautiful young society woman and a brash young nobleman who snipped off a lock of her hair without permission. The poem was a huge success. It sold 3,000 copies in four days. With his earnings from writing, Pope moved into a fine villa in Twickenham, southwest of London, and built a renowned garden and grotto, complete with trickling spring and camera obscura, an entertaining structure popular in some circles of the day that eventually led to the development of photography.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Hansberry wrote A Raisin in the Sun

Lorraine Hansberry
It is the birthday of writer Lorraine Hansberry (1930), whose play A Raisin in the Sun (1959) was the first Broadway production written by a black woman, and the first staged on Broadway by a black director, Lloyd Richards. It was nominated for four Tony Awards in 1960. Hansberry received the New York Drama Critics Circle Award for Best Play. A film version (starring Sidney Poitier and Ruby Dee) was released in1961. There followed a musical (1973), a TV movie (1989), a Broadway revival (2004), and another TV movie (2008). The play concerns a Chicago family's efforts to move from poverty to a better life, and is based in part on experiences of Hansberry's family. Hansberry also wrote the Broadway play The Sign in Sidney Brustein's Window (1964), which deals with the themes of race, homosexuality and suicide. She died from pancreatic cancer in 1965 at the age of 34. Actor/singer Paul Robeson gave her eulogy. Her play To Be Young, Gifted and Black was produced Off Broadway in 1968. A book version, To be Young, Gifted and Black: Lorraine Hansberry in Her Own Words appeared in 1969.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Happy birthday, Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell
It is the birthday of British philosopher and mathematician Bertrand Russell (1872), whose work won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1950. His career spanned 73 years and his substantial body of work includes books on mathematics, philosophy, politics, civilization, education, socialism and more. For much of his life he was an outspoken antiwar activist, serving time in prison twice for his opposition to Britain's involvement in World War I. He held a dim view of the Russian Revolution and Bolshevism. He initially opposed Britain's rearming to fight Nazi Germany but concluded that Hitler's rise to power wasn't conducive to peace in Europe and that fighting him was the lesser of two evils. He disagreed with the conclusions of the Warren Commission in the the assassination of President John F. Kennedy and believed that Lee Harvey Oswald was railroaded. He believed many questions remained unanswered. He was a severe critic of the Vietnam War and accused the United States of committing war crimes. He was a self-avowed atheist who questioned whether religion actually harmed people. He was an anti-imperialist and supported free trade. He advocated nuclear disarmament and pacifism. On the home front, there was less tranquility. He was involved with numerous affairs, sometimes simultaneously. He was married four times, and had three bitter divorces.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Richardson wrote 'interior monologues'

Dorothy Richardson
It is the birthday of British writer Dorothy Richardson (1873), whose novel, Pointed Roofs (1915), is credited with being the first completely stream of consciousness novel published in English, though James Joyce's Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man is much more widely known. She worked as a freelance journalist and novelist, also publishing poems, essays, sketches and short stories. She married bohemian English artist Alan Odle (whose work was mainly ignored in this lifetime but is avidly collected now.) She was admired by writer Virginia Woolf, who credited her with inventing or at least developing "the psychological sentence of the feminine gender." Richardson herself disliked the term "stream of consciousness," preferring instead "interior monologue." Pointed Roofs and a dozen of her subsequent novels in the style were collected into a four-volume work called Pilgrimage in 1938. Richardson is considered a significant feminist writer, who sought equal rights for women and emphasized the importance of a woman's viewpoint in literature.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Studs Terkel listened to America

Studs Terkel
It is the birthday of writer and historian Studs Terkel (1912), whose book The Good War (1985) won the Pulitzer Prize for General Non-Fiction. He is remembered for his oral histories of ordinary Americans, a style he called guerrilla journalism. He wrote more than 18 books. The Good War told the story of World War II through first-person accounts of people affected by the war on the home front, in battle and after the war was over. It includes people at all levels of society. There is even a section that includes a conversation with survivors of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Terkel also wrote Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression (1970), which includes oral histories of the wealthy, the middle class, and the poor. Terkel's book Working, People Talk About What They Do All Day and How They Feel About What They Do (1974), compiled the oral histories of ordinary workers. It was widely acclaimed and inspired a Broadway musical. Terkel was host of a weekday radio program on Chicago's WFMT for 45 years. He was also the host of a 1950 TV show, Stud's Place, a variety show with weekly guests set in a barbecue joint. Terkel also acted in plays, movies and radio dramas, usually playing the bad guy. “I would always say the same thing and either get killed or sent to Sing Sing,” he once recalled.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

L. Frank Baum wrote The Wizard of Oz

L. Frank Baum
It is the birthday of author L. Frank Baum (1856), whose delightful children's story, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900), has enchanted youngsters and adults for generations. Baum's book was immediately successful, and over the years he wrote 13 sequels. Though he often vowed he had written is last Oz book as he turned to other fantasies, he returned to the wonderful land of Oz. Baum was a sickly child and turned early to writing stories and plays, and to publishing. He produced a local newspaper as a child and magazines devoted to stamp collecting and raising poultry. Baum and his wife Maud moved to the Dakota Territory in 1888, where he operated a store that went bankrupt. He edited the local paper, The Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer. He moved to Chicago in 1891, worked as a reporter and wrote a collection of Mother Goose stories written in prose. That was followed by Father Goose, His Book (1899). He moved to California in started a movie production company that failed in a year. Baum wrote numerous children's fantasy books, short stories and plays. He also wrote novels under pseudonyms, including Edith VanDyne (Aunt Jane series), Floyd Akers (Boy Fortune Hunter series), Schuyler Staunton, John Estes Cooke, Suzanne Metcalf  and Laura Bancroft.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Hal Borland, outdoor writer

Hal Borland
It is the birthday of writer Hal Borland (1900), whose Sunday "outdoor editorials" in The New York Times captured the imagination of nature lovers for nearly 40 years. He wrote more than 25 books, including four novels. Pulitzer Prize-winning naturalist Edwin Way Teale called Borland's outdoor books "a breath of fresh country air." He was born in a tiny town southwest of Omaha and raised in a tiny town in eastern Colorado, where his father owned a newspaper. His book County Editor's Boy, recalls his days growing up in Flagler, Colorado. He attended the University of Colorado for a time but dropped out to work on his father's paper. Later he went to Columbia University and graduated with a degree in journalism in  1923. Eventually, he worked at the Denver Post, and wrote for Audubon Magazine. In 1945, he and his wife, Barbara Borland, moved to a 100-acre farm in Connecticut, where he wrote books and magazine articles, and his column for The New York Times. His wisdom was that of rural America, born of his childhood and his love of nature. “Knowing trees," he once wrote, "I understand the meaning of patience. Knowing grass, I can appreciate persistence.”

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Happy birthday, poet Edward Lear

Edward Lear
It is the birthday of British poet and painter Edward Lear (1812), whose nonsense poetry and limericks are beloved throughout the English-speaking world. Perhaps his best known poem is The Owl and the Pussycat (1871): "The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea/In a beautiful pea green boat,/They took some honey, and plenty of money,/Wrapped up in a five pound note." Lear was the youngest of 21 children. He was raised by his sister Ann, who was 21 when he was born. Lear's father was as stockbroker and was put in debtor's prison when he was 13. Lear earned money as an illustrator when he was 15 and was hired in 1832 to do bird illustrations for the London Zoological Society. He was hired to live at the estate of the Earl of Derby and illustrate for him as well. His assembled his first book of poetry , A Book of Nonsense (1846) for the earl's grandchildren. Lear was an accomplished landscape painter and was widely published in his lifetime, though his serious painting is largely forgotten today. Among his many published works are Nonsense Songs (1871) and Laughable Lyrics (1877).

Friday, May 11, 2012

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

J.M. Barrie wrote Peter Pan

James M. Barrie
It is the birthday of Scottish writer and dramatist J.M. Barrie, whose "fairy play" Peter Pan, or The Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up captured the hearts and imaginations of children for generations and spawned a perhaps not-so-small industry. Barrie was the ninth of ten children. Two of his siblings died before he was born. When he was six years old, his next oldest brother David died at age 13. His mother was devastated and Barrie tried to comfort her by wearing his brother's clothes. His mother took solace in the fact that David would never grow up. He would always remain a boy. Later Barrie and his mother entertained each other telling stories and reading aloud. At a boarding school, Barrie played pirates with friends. As a young adult, Barrie wrote numerous successful plays. The character of Peter Pan first appeared in a novel The Little White Bird (1902). His Peter Pan play was first performed in 1904. George Bernard Shaw said that although it was supposedly a play for children, it was really for grownups.  It was enormously popular. Then he wrote the story as a novel Peter and Wendy, published in 1911. The story has, of course, been adapted many times and presented in many different forms, not the least of which is Walt Disney's animated adaptation. The film Finding Neverland (2004), starring Johnny Depp and Kate Winslet, suggests some of the inspirations for the Peter Pan story but takes liberties with the facts and compresses events to make a tight story.

Shuffling off to Buffalo!

A road trip! We'll be at the Buffalo Niagara International Antiquarian Book, Paper & Ephemera Show May 18-20. See you there, or see you when we get back! This is the new cover image over on our Facebook page. Just wanted to share it!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Happy birthday, poet Gary Snyder

Gary Snyder
It is the birthday of Beat-era poet Gary Snyder (1930), who won a Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1975 for his collection Turtle Island. The title is a Native American term for North America. Snyder's work reflects his interest in Native American culture, Buddhism, Japanese and Chinese culture, naturism and rural life. He grew up in the Northwest and became associated with the Beat Generation in San Francisco, where he met poet Kenneth Rexroth and participated in the famous Six Gallery poetry reading in 1955, which many scholars consider the beginning of the Beat movement in California and the beginning of the San Francisco artistic renaissance. Other young poets, Michael McClure, Philip Lamantia, Allen Ginsberg and Philip Whalen (a college roommate of Snyder), participated in the reading. Ginsberg read an early draft of his epic poem Howl and Jack Kerouac was in the large, enthusiastic audience. Snyder inspired the main character in Kerouac's novel The Dharma Bums. Snyder introduced Kerouac to life in the backcountry and rural living. Lawrence Ferlinghetti called Snyder the Thoreau of the Beat Generation. Snyder wrote more than 20 books of poetry. He studied in Japan and traveled extensively in the Far East.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Happy birthday, Brahms and Tchaikovsky!

It is the birthday of German composer and pianist Johannes Brahms (1833) and Russian composer Peter Tchaikovsky 1840), two of the most beloved classical composers of all time. They both wrote serenades, symphonies, concertos, overtures and chamber works. Tchaikovsky also wrote operas and ballets. Here are popular pieces from each of them. Enjoy!

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Nellie Bly, investigative reporter

Nellie Bly
It is the birthday of daring investigative reporter Nellie Bly (1864), whose exposé of an insane asylum led to reforms in New York City. She feigned insanity so she could see the conditions in the mental institution first hand. She also set a record by traveling around the world in 72 days to emulate Jules Verne's fictional Around the World in Eighty Days. She wrote about both events in series published in Joseph Pulitzer's New York World newspaper. Both resulted in books, Ten Days in a Mad-House (1887) and Around the World in Seventy-Two Days (1890). Her real name was Elizabeth Jane Cochran and she came to journalism accidentally after she wrote a scathing rebuttal to a sexist column published in the Pittsburgh Dispatch in 1880. The editor was so impressed he sent for the man who wrote the letter. He wanted to hire him. When Elizabeth showed up he refused to hire her but she talked her way into a job anyway. He gave her the pen name Nellie Bly after the popular song by Stephen Foster, Nelly Bly. After she wrote an investigative series on the plight of women working in a factory, causing a stir in the community and the newsroom, the editor relegated her to the women's pages, covering gardening, society and fashion. Nellie wasn't content with that, so she went to Mexico as a foreign correspondent and wrote about the lives of the Mexican people. Her reports were compiled into a book, Six Months in Mexico (1888). When she returned to Pittsburgh, the editor assigned her to cover theater and the arts, so she left and went to New York, eventually getting the job at the New York World.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Rare Book Moment: Decorative bindings

Michael is back with another edition of Rare Book Moment! Enjoy!

Thomas Huxley, early evolutionist

Thomas Huxley
It is the birthday of English biologist Thomas Huxley (1825), one of the most vociferous advocates of the theory of evolution and the premier advocate of science in 19th century Britain. He was largely self-educated but rose to become a prominent leader in British zoology. His Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature (1863) was the first book devoted to human evolution. It makes the case that man and apes came from a common ancestor. It was published four years after Charles Darwin's The Origin of Species but Darwin was careful to avoid dealing with human evolution in that book. (Darwin dealt with the subject in The Descent of Man, published in 1871.) Much of the material in Huxley's book had been published in his scientific papers and distributed to a very selected audience. His book marked the first time such theories had received the attention of a wider educated public. Huxley compares adult human anatomy with that of apes. He makes the case that humans should be considered primates. Author Aldous Huxley was Thomas' grandson.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

William Inge's play Picnic won a Pulitzer

William Inge
It is the birthday of playwright and novelist William Inge (1913), whose play Picnic (1953) won the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Inge also wrote Come Back, Little Sheba, which ran on Broadway in 1950, starring Shirley Booth, who also starred in the movie adaptation and won an Oscar and a Golden Globe award for her performance. His play Glory in the Flower (1953) became a television production on Omnibus, starring Hume Cronyn, Jessica Tandy, and James Dean. His plays Bus Stop (1955) and The Dark at the Top of the Stairs (1957) also had successful runs on Broadway, and were later adapted for film. His play A Loss of Roses (1959) starred Carol Haney, Warren Beatty, and Betty Field. It was later adapted for film as The Stripper. He wrote Splendor in the Grass (1961) as a screenplay, and it won an Oscar. He adapted James Leo Herlihy's novel All Fall Down for a 1962 film. He wrote the screenplay for Bus Riley's Back in Town (1965) but was unhappy with changes that were made in the final film so demanded that the screenplay credit go to "Walter Gage." In November 1964, his play Out on the Outskirts of Town was broadcast on NBC. It starred Anne Bancroft and Jack Warden. Inge wrote two novels, Good Luck, Miss Wyckoff (1970) and My Son is a Splendid Driver (1971). The first deals with a public humiliation in the 1950s with a high school Latin teacher who has an affair with the school's black janitor. The second is an autobiographical novel that deals with the author's loneliness growing up. Inge committed suicide in 1973.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Happy birthday, Alessandro Scarlatti

It is the birthday of Italian composer Alessandro Scarlatti (1660), who wrote operas, chamber music and religious music. His sons, Domenico Scarlatti and Pietro Filippo Scarlatti, were also composers. Here is part of his well known St. Cecilia Mass. Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Addison's play inspired American Revolution

Joseph Addison
It is the birthday of English essayist and playwright Joseph Addison (1672), whose play, Cato (1712), is believed to be a literary inspiration for the American Revolution. The play, which concerns the Roman statesman's final days, was popular in Britain, Ireland, and the American colonies. George Washington is said to have performed it for the Continental Army at Valley Forge. Scholars note that Patrick Henry's famous proclamation, "Give me liberty or give me death" is certainly a reference to a line in the play as is Nathan Hale's vow "I regret that I have but one life to lose for my country." Indeed, George Washington wrote in a letter praising Benedict Arnold (an act he no doubt later regretted) that "It is not in the power of any man to command success; but you have done more—you have deserved it," which scholars believe is a reference to "Tis not in mortals to command success; but we'll do more, Sempronius, we'll deserve it." The play is set at Utica as Cato the Younger awaits the arrival of Julius Caesar after Caesar's victory at Thapsus. Cato struggles with his personal beliefs in individual liberty and republicanism in the face of Caesar's tyrannical rule. In the end, Cato kills himself rather than live under Caesar's despotism. Addison also was known as an essayist. He helped his childhood friend Richard Steele start The Spectator, a daily sheet intended to make the discussion of philosophical issues accessible to the educated public in coffeehouses, clubs and at tea. The publication had a press run of about 3,000 copies but Addison estimated that the readership was far greater—about 60,000—because readers devoured them in subscribing coffeehouses. Maybe they also found Addison's work accessible because of his relaxed conversational writing style. Indeed, he earned the censure of renowned writers of the day for consistently ending a sentence with a preposition.

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Our specialties include Floridiana (Florida History, Florida Authors, Florida Related Ephemera), American History, Literature of the South, Military History (including, but not limited to, Civil War, Spanish-American War, World War I, World War II, Vietnam, Korean War), Children’s Literature, Maps, Leather Bindings and Rare & Unusual items.

We also have a wide variety of general stock, including a large Landscape/Gardening section, a great selection of Christian/Church History/Bible Study titles, Beat Literature, and much more. Please browse our extensive category list.

Appraisal service

Michael F. Slicker, is one of about 450 qualified members of the Antiquarian Booksellers Association of America, Inc., and its affiliate the International League of Antiquarian Booksellers.

Condition of the book, demand for it and history of comparable sales are among the factors considered in evaluating the value of a book. Other factors may apply as well.

Please contact us for more information regarding our certified appraisal services. We encourage you to visit our website, Lighthouse Books, ABAA

Florida Antiquarian Book Fair

Michael Slicker was the founding president of the Florida Antiquarian Booksellers Association and has served as chairman of its annual Florida Antiquarian Book Fair since its inception.

The 36th annual book fair is set for April 21-23, 2017 at The Coliseum in St. Petersburg.

The fair is the oldest and largest antiquarian book fair in the Southeast. Learn more about the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair and the Florida Antiquarian Booksellers Association.

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