Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Halliday created Michael Shayne series

It is the birthday of mystery writer Brett Halliday (1904), who is best remembered for his Michael Shayne detective series. Halliday was the pseudonym of Davis Dresser, a prolific Chicago-born, West Texas-raised lad who lost an eye in an accident with barbed wire, at 14 rode with American troops in pursuit of Pancho Villa, worked in the oil fields of Texas and on board an oil tanker, and finally started writing fiction in 1927. Brett Halliday was his most used pen name but he also wrote under the names Asa Baker, Matthew Blood, Kathryn Culver, Don Davis, Hal Debrett, Peter Field, Anthony Scott, and Anderson Wayne. Michael Shayne was a tall red-headed Irishman based in Miami. He usually named the killer when he gathered all the suspects together at the end. The first Michael Shayne novel was Dividend on Death (1939). The franchise continued with radio, television and the movies on into the 1960s.

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Casey Stengel managed Yankees, Mets

It is the birthday of Baseball Hall of Famer Casey Stengel (1890), who played outfield early in his career and then managed several teams, but most famously the New York Yankees and the expansion New York Mets. He was manager of the Mets in 1962 when the team made St. Petersburg its spring training town. The field where the team practiced at Crescent Lake Park is named Huggins-Stengel Field for him and 1920s Yankees manager Miller Huggins. Stengel also managed the Brooklyn Dodgers in the 1930s and the Boston Braves until 1943. Casey was a nickname. (He was born Charles Dillon Stengel.) It was originally KC for Kansas City, where he was born, but with the popular baseball poem Casey at the Bat it became Casey. He also was called The Old Perfessor for his penchant for talking baseball at length at the slightest provocation. Stengel was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966. His autobiography is Casey at the Bat: The Story of My Life in Baseball (1962).

Monday, July 29, 2013

Booth Tarkington wrote of Middle America

Booth Tarkington was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy and Princeton University.
It is the birthday of writer Booth Tarkington (1869), who won the 1919 Pulitzer Prize for The Magnificent Ambersons (1918) and again in 1922 for Alice Adams (1921). He also is remembered for The Gentleman from Indiana (1899), Monsieur Beaucaire (1900), Penrod (1914), and Seventeen (1916). Tarkington was from Indiana and mostly he wrote about the Midwest and the middle class. The Magnificent Ambersons deals with a declining aristocratic family after the Civil War and before World War I. It highlights the contrast between the rise of New Money and the fall of Old Money. Alice Adams focuses on a lower middle class young woman trying to climb the social ladder and attract a wealthy young man who eschews his background in favor of mixing with the lower classes. Both novels were adapted for the movies.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Happy birthday, Geoffrey de Havilland

It is the birthday of British aviation pioneer Sir Geoffrey de Havilland (1882), whose contributions to aircraft design led to several medals from the British Empire and knighthood in 1944. De Havilland both designed and tested his own aircraft. De Havilland-designed airplanes became the mainstay of the Royal Flying Corps during World War I. His Airco DH-2 proved to be superior to the German Fokker E fighter planes. the Airco DH-4, a single-engine bomber that could fly to 23,500 feet, was considered the best designed bomber during World War I. De Havilland's all-wood Mosquito fighter-bomber was one of the most celebrated planes of World War II. It could even outfly the renowned British Spitfire. After the war, De Havilland designed the world's first commercial jet airliner, the Comet. It went into service in 1949. De Havilland's autobiography is Sky Fever (1979).

Friday, July 26, 2013

Happy birthday, George Bernard Shaw

It is the birthday of Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw (1856), who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925 and an Academy Award for his screen adaptation of his play Pygmalion in 1938. Shaw was an outspoken socialist who championed the working class. His black comedy plays made fun of social ills as he dealt with such issues as class privilege, education, health care, marriage, government, and religion. Shaw's best-known work may be Pygmalion (1912), about a professor of phonetics who trains a Cockney flower girl to pass for a duchess. It was adapted for film twice and as the 1956 musical and 1964 film My Fair Lady. Other major works include Candida (1898), John Bull's Other Island (1904), Major Barbara (1905), Man and Superman (1905), Heartbreak House (1920), and Saint Joan (1923).

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Happy birthday, Maxfield Parrish

Left: The Dinky Bird from Poems of Childhood (1904). Right: From Arabian Nights (1906) Inset: Parrish
 It is the birthday of painter Maxfield Parrish (1870), whose luminous figures and settings graced magazine covers, advertisements and book illustrations in the early 20th century. His most well-known picture may be Daybreak (1922), an art print that  remains a popular seller today. Among the books Parrish illustrated are Mother Goose in Prose (1897) by Frank L Baum, The Golden Age (1900), Knickerbocker's History of New York (1900), Dream Days (1902), Scribner's Poems of Childhood (1904) by Eugene Field, Italian Villas and their Gardens (1904) by Edith Wharton, The Turquoise Cap and The Desert (1905), Scribner's 1909 edition of Arabian Nights (to which he added more images for a 1923 edition), A Wonder Book and Tanglewood Tales (1910), The Children's Book (1910), and the Knave of Hearts (1925). At age 28, he bought land in New Hampshire  where he built a home and studio. He lived there until his death at age 95.

Daybreak (1922), created as an art poster, it is still popular today.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Happy birthday, Alexandre Dumas

It is the birthday of French writer Alexandre Dumas (1802), whose novels, The Three Musketeers (1844), Twenty Years After (1845), The Count of Monte Cristo (1845-46) and The Vicomte de Bragelonne: Ten Years Later (1847), are read throughout the world. He is one of the most widely known French authors ever. His major works have been adapted for almost 200 movies. Dumas also wrote travel books and plays. In recent times, scholars have discovered unpublished works by Dumas, including The Last Cavalier (2006). Dumas, a man of huge appetite, is said to have had 40 mistresses, and fathered at least four illegitimate children. Dumas' grandmother was an Afro-Caribbean slave, his grandfather a French nobleman who lived in Haiti. Dumas suffered racial prejudice and wrote about it in Georges (1843). In 2002, on Dumas' 200th birthday, French President Jacques had his ashes buried at the Pantheon of Paris next to Victor Hugo and Emile Zola.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Happy birthday, Raymond Chandler

It is the birthday of writer Raymond Chandler (1888), who created the iconic cynical detective Philip Marlowe, and was one of the founders of the hard-boiled detective novel genre. Chandler's Marlowe was a complex character, more than a typical tough guy. He was educated, enjoyed classical music and chess, spoke Spanish. He had few friends. Chandler only wrote seven novels that were published during his lifetime: The Big Sleep (1939), Farewell, My Lovely (1940), The High Window (1942), The Lady in the Lake (1943), The Little Sister (1949), The Long Goodbye (1953), Playback (1958). When he died in 1959, he had been working on an eighth novel (Poodle Springs (1989). Robert B. Parker finished it and it was published on Chandler's 100th birthday. Chandler also wrote nine short story collections and the screenplays for Double Indemnity (1944), And Now Tomorrow (1944), The Unseen (1945), The Blue Dahlia (1946), Strangers on a Train (1951) and Playback, which was rejected so Chandler reworked it as a novel. Eleven films were adapted from Chandler's writing.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Happy birthday, artist Edward Hopper

Detail from Nighthawks (1942); inset: self-portrait
It is the birthday of realist painter Edward Hopper (1882), who is most well known for his oil painting Nighthawks (1942), though he also worked in watercolor as well as etchings and pen and ink sketches. Nighthawks features four people in an all-night diner on what appears to be a lonely street corner. It suggests a film noir setting and, indeed, is said to have been inspired by Ernest Hemingway's short story The Killers (1927) or, perhaps, his story A Clean, Well-Lighted Place (1933). Hopper said of the paint that there is the possibility of danger outside the dark. Hopper's subjects tended to be typical everyday scenes, many capturing contemporary urban life. Among his other well-known paintings are Girl at Sewing Machine (1921), Automat (1927), Chop Suey (1929), Early Sunday Morning … (1930), and Office at Night (1940), a sensually charged scene of a young woman and a slightly older man, apparently working in an office after hours.

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Happy birthday, Alexander the Great

It is the birthday of Alexander the Great, king of Macedon (356), who is remembered for uniting the city-states of Greece. He is considered one of the most successful military commanders ever and was never defeated in battle. Here is an excellent Biography video about him. Enjoy!

Friday, July 19, 2013

Happy birthday, gun maker Samuel Colt

It is the birthday of inventor Samuel Colt (1814), who is remembered for the revolver that bears his name. Colt didn't invent the revolver but his designs greatly improved it and his assembly line manufacturing system made mass production of the sidearms practical.

Colt sold weapons for use in the Seminole Indian Wars in Florida but soldiers tended to take them apart and strip the screw heads, making them useless. Still, they were pretty efficient and he got an order for guns for the war with Mexico, these with six shots, quick reloading and more power.

After the war was over, he sold guns to Mexico, in preparation for their next war. He sold, too, to both sides in the Civil War, and later to countries in Europe. The consummate salesman, he presented heads of state with custom-made pistols with elaborate designs and inscriptions, casually mentioning that their international rivals had already placed orders for his weapons.

Colt's weapons were a key part of the taming of the Wild West. To bolster sales, Colt hired artist George Catlin to paint a series of scenes prominently showing his weapons being used against Indians, outlaws, and wild animals. He hired writers to produce stories about his guns for magazines and readers to spot unsolicited stories mentioning his guns, often rewarding the editor with a gift revolver.

Charles Dickens wrote about Colt's revolver in an article in Household Words (1854). Books about Colt include Armsmear: the home, the arm, and the armory of Samuel Colt: A Memorial (1866), Instigation of the Devil (1930), Yankee Arms Maker: the Incredible Career of Samuel Colt (1935), A History of the Colt Revolver (1940), The Story of Colt's Revolver (1953), and The Flamboyant Mr. Colt and His Deadly Six-Shooter (1978).

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Happy birthday, Machine Gun Kelly

It is the birthday of notorious Depression-era desperado Machine Gun Kelly (1895), who is most famous for kidnapping an oil tycoon in Oklahoma City and extracting $200,000 ransom. Kelly's third wife (and partner in crime) gave him a Thompson submachine gun and gave him the nickname. She made a project of building his reputation, though until the kidnapping he was a minor criminal, part of the wave of midwestern bank robberies during the Great Depression. Kelly's undoing was his alert kidnap victim, who was blindfolded but remembered sounds that gave authorities clues about where he was held and left fingerprints to establish his presence there. Kelly was sentenced to life in prison and died in Leavenworth in 1954. Kelly's son from his first marriage, Bruce Barnes, wrote Machine Gun Kelly: To Right a Wrong (1992).

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Happy birthday, Erle Stanley Gardner

It is the birthday of writer Erle Stanley Gardner (1889), who is best remembered for writing the Perry Mason murder mystery series. The Mason character was a defense attorney whose clients were charged with murders they didn't commit. Mason generally proved the innocence of his client by getting a confession from another character, usually during the trial while the murderer was on the witness stand. Gardner taught himself law and passed the bar exam in California in 1911. He practiced law and wrote on the side. After his first book, The Case of the Velvet Claws (1933), was published, Gardner devoted full time to writing. He patterned Mason's faithful and efficient secretary, Della Street, on his longtime secretary, Agnes Jean Bethell, whom he married in 1968. Here's an interesting clip of Gardner's appearance on the What's My Line? game show in 1957.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Off to the Tennessee Antiquarian Book Fair

We're on the road again, bound for Davy Crockett country and the Tennessee Antiquarian Book Fair this coming weekend. This year, it's at the University of the South in Sewanee, moved from nearby Cowan. We're always excited to be a part of this book fair. Not only do we see longtime customers and longtime bookseller friends (many of the regulars at the Florida Antiquarian Book Fair exhibit in Tennessee), but this is a great place for bibliophiles. Tennessee is home of the Southern Agrarians, the writers and poets with a particularly southern sensitivity who arose at Vanderbilt University in the 1920s and 1930s. Accordingly we're taking works by Agrarians like Robert Penn Warren, Allen Tate and John Crowe Ransom and other Southern literature as well as English literature and leatherbound books (always quite popular in Tennessee). If you're in the area, stop by to see us. The book fair is in the Fowler Center on Texas Avenue. If not, we'll see you when we get back.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Happy birthday, Juan Ponce de Leon

Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon was born in 1460 but the date of his birth seems to be lost to history. It is known, however, that he died in July 1521, after a second visit to Florida with the intention of establishing a colony. Calusas didn't view positively his arrival with soldiers, priests and settlers, and a clear intention to move in. In the ensuing battle, Ponce de Leon was shot in the leg with a poisoned arrow. He died later in Cuba. Here's an excellent video from the television show Biography about Juan Ponce de Leon.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Happy birthday, Charles Scribner Jr.

It is the birthday of Charles Scribner Jr. (1921), who succeeded his father as head of the publishing company Charles Scribner's Sons and ran it for 34 years. His great-grandfather, Charles I, founded the company in 1846. He was Ernest Heminway's personal editor at the end of the famed writer's career. In his memoir, In the Company of Writer: A Life in Publishing (1991), Scribner noted that in Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings' book The Secret River (1955) she never revealed the race of the main character, Calpurnia. It was published after her death, so she couldn't be consulted about her intention. It was published at a time when white publishers didn't do books with African American themes, and it was likely school boards would reject such books. Scribner decided to leave Calpurnia's race unstated but use dark paper to suggest her race. He said it was "one of my silent contributions to dissolving the color barrier in the 1950s." The book won the Newbery Honor Award. Scribner also wrote The Enduring Hemingway: An Anthology of a Lifetime in Literature (1974), The Devil's Bridge: A Legend (1978), and In the Web of Ideas (1993).

Friday, July 12, 2013

Happy birthday, poet Pablo Neruda

It is the birthday of Chilean poet Pablo Neruda (1904), who received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1971. He is best remembered today for his erotically-charged love poems, including his most well-known book, Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair (1924). He was also a communist activist and politician, and served as a close advisor to Salvadore Allende, Chile's socialist president. Neruda published his first writing, an essay, at age 13. He wrote poems and essays for local publications as a youngster. His first book of poetry, Book of Twilights, was published in 1923. Other work includes The Trying of Infinite Man (1926) and a novel, The Inhabitant and His Hope (1926), as well as the poetry collection Residence on Earth, a three-volume set published in 1933, 1935 and 1947.  He also wrote Canto General (1950). Neruda died of heart failure in 1973. It is alleged that Chilean dictator Augusto Pinochet had him poisoned because of his support of Allende.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

D'Anville challenged mapmaking of his era

Detail of d'Anville's map of China.
It is the birthday of French mapmaker Jean Baptiste Bourguignon d'Anville (1697), who is credited with creating a revolution in the cartography and geography fields by challenging existing perceptions of his era about world geography and remapping vast areas, including China and the countries of pre-Christian civilization such as Egypt and Greece. Unlike his predecessors who creatively invented what they did not know, d'Anville simply left blank areas for which there was no documented information. He also wrote extensively about his source material, a practice unprecedented at the time. D'Anville produced 211 maps and some 78 dissertations and memoirs. He served as first geographer to the king of France.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

William Blackstone influenced American law

It is the birthday of English barrister William Blackstone (1723), who is remembered for writing Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765-1769), a four-volume treatise on common law—the rights of people and things, and the difference between private wrongs and public wrongs. It was immensely popular in England, though not without detractors. Perhaps its greatest influence, however, was on the development of law in the American colonies and later in the fledgling United States. The Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Federalist Papers and the early formation of the Supreme Court were all affected by Blackstone's writing. Indeed, the Supreme Court, even in modern times, continues to quote from Blackstone.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Ann Radcliffe pioneered Gothic novels

It is the birthday of English writer Ann Radcliffe (1764), who is considered a leading developer of the Gothic novel. Her novels were crammed with vivid landscape descriptions, apparently inexplicable supernatural elements, and a tidy explanation  of the strange events at the end. Her novels included The Castles of Athlin and Dunbayne (1789), A Sicilian Romance (1790), The Romance of the Forest (1791), The Mysteries of Udolpho (1797) and Gaston de Blondeville (1826). She published only six novels but scholars say her work influenced Jane Austen, William Makepeace Thackeray, Sir Walter Scott, William Wordsworth, HonorĂ© de Balzac, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Mary Shelley, Percy Bysshe Shelley, John Keats, Lord Byron, Edgar Allan Poe, Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, Daphne du Mauier, and Henry James.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Happy birthday, Ferdinand von Zeppelin

It is the birthday of German army officer and manufacturer Ferdinand von Zeppelin (1838) [inset], who is credited with building the first commercially viable airship. Zeppelin's vision was a considerable departure from the hot air balloons he rode as a young officer on a trip to the United States during the Civil War. Those balloons were used as observation posts for the Union Army. Many years later, Zeppelin constructed huge, rigid dirigibles that were used for transportation. Zeppelin died in 1917, before seeing the widespread success of his invention. Zeppelin's successor, Hugo Eckener, continued Zeppelin's work and oversaw the construction of the most successful dirigible ever built, Graf Zeppelin, named for Eckener's mentor. Eckener piloted the airship on the first dirigible flight around the world in 1929, an Arctic research trip in 1931, and to the Chicago World's Fair in 1933. Eckener wrote Count Zeppelin: The Man and His Work (1938).

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Happy birthday, John Singleton Copley

Detail: Paul Revere (1770). Detail: Watson and the Shark (1778).
It is the birthday of painter John Singleton Copley (1738), who is remembered for his portraits of New England colonial figures and his depiction of historical events both in colonial America and in England, where he lived for a time and became quite well known. His parents were Irish merchants who emigrated to Boston. His father died about the time he was born and his mother remarried. His stepfather was an accomplished engraver, who no doubt influenced Copley. Scholars don't know exactly when he started painting but he was executing fine portraits by his mid-teens. Among his best-known works is a portrait of the patriotic silversmith Paul Revere, painted in the environment of his day job. Copley's first venture into historical painting was a shark attack in Havana harbor.

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Happy birthday, Justice Thurgood Marshall

It is the birthday of Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall (1908), the first African-American appointed the the nation's highest judicial body. While he was a lawyer, Marshall successfully argued the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case before the Supreme Court in 1954. That case led to the end of racial segregation in public schools. Marshall was nominated to the Supreme Court in 1967. Marshall's writing was collected as Thurgood Marshall: His Speeches, Writings, Arguments, Opinions and Reminiscences (2001).

Monday, July 1, 2013

Happy birthday, William Strunk, Jr.

It is the birthday of professor William Strunk, Jr. (1869), the Cornell University English professor who wrote The Elements of Style (1918) as a concise writing guide to help his students. It was a collection of the writing rules focused particularly on the composition principles students tended to get wrong most often. Strunk published it privately and distributed it to his students, among whom it became known as "the little book." Decades later (1957), one of Strunk's students, E.B. White, came across his copy of "the little book" and wrote a column about it in The New Yorker. Macmillian and Company asked White to revise and modernize it. Today it is considered one of the most authoritative writer's guides in the world. In 2010, comic Steven Colbert whipped out his copy to make a point about the Oxford comma during his show on Comedy Central.

Our specialties

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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