Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Happy birthday, Queen Mary II

It is the birthday of Queen Mary II (1662), who reluctantly married her first cousin, William III and II, and jointly ruled England, Scotland, and Ireland with him from 1689 until her death. Theirs was an arranged marriage designed to solidify an alliance with Holland, and Mary wept at her wedding. Mary’s father was King James II of England and Ireland and King James VII of Scotland. He was deposed and exiled to France, and William and Mary became joint monarchs, an arrangement that satisfied prevailing attitudes because William and Mary were Protestants and her father was Catholic, not a popular thing to be in England at the time. Mary grew to be devoted to her husband and didn’t really want to run things in the realm. When her husband was out of town waging wars in various countries, though, Mary proved to be a capable leader. In 1693, Mary endowed the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Happy birthday, William Randolph Hearst

It is the birthday of publisher William Randolph Hearst (1863), whose newspapers’ sensationalized stories pushed public opinion to a frenzy that led to the Spanish-American War. He built the largest newspaper and magazine business in the world. Hearst served two terms as congressman from New York but could never get elected mayor of New York City or governor of New York. His famous mansion, Hearst Castle, in San Simeon, California, is now a museum. Orson Welles used Hearst’s life as a basis for his title character in the movie Citizen Kane (1941). Hearst tried unsuccessfully to stop release of the movie but he did succeed in limiting its run, hurting ticket sales and Welles’ career.

Monday, April 28, 2014

Happy birthday, author Harper Lee

President George W. Bush presented Harper Lee the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2007.
It is the birthday of novelist Harper Lee (1926), whose novel To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) won the Pulitzer Prize. It is considered a modern classic in American literature, and is her only published book. The book deals with racial prejudice in a small Southern town and is told through the eyes of a 10-year-old girl, Scout Finch. It is based on Lee's childhood in Monroeville, Alabama (where she still lives), and includes the themes of loss of innocence, gender roles, compassion, class and courage.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Happy birthday, Emperor Marcus Aurelius

It is the birthday of Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (121 AD), who is remembered as the philosopher king. His personal writing he called To Myself became a celebrated 12-book philosophy series, Meditations, that recorded his ideas on Stoic philosophy, a school of thought that held that the truly wise were unaffected by emotion, thus avoiding the errors in judgement that might be caused by such external factors. Aurelius also addressed his ideas on duty and a government of service. His work has been highly regarded by such leaders as Frederick the Great and Bill Clinton. Scholars believe Aurelius wrote most of his work during ten years beginning in 170 AD while he was planning military campaigns.

Friday, April 25, 2014

Happy birthday, Guglielmo Marconi

It is the birthday of Italian inventor Guglielmo Marconi (1874), who invented radio. Here is a short video about him and his achievement.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Happy birthday, Robert Penn Warren

It is the birthday of writer Robert Penn Warren (1905), whose novel All the King’s Men (1946) won the Pulitzer Prize for Literature. Warren also won Pulitzer Prizes for Poetry in 1958 and 1979. No other writer has ever won Pulitzers for both poetry and fiction. Warren also won the Congressional Medal of Freedom and served as Poet Laureate of the United States. The rise of legendary Louisiana politician Huey Long inspired Warren to write All the King’s Men, one of the best books in American literature.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Happy birthday, William Shakespeare

It is the 450th birthday of playwright William Shakespeare, whom scholars consider the greatest writer in the English language. Here are links to a handful of interesting articles about the Bard of Avon, not the least of which is the recent discovery of a dictionary that might have belonged to him. Enjoy!

The Atlantic: Booksellers say they got Shakespeare's Personal Dictionary on eBay
Sydney Morning Herald: Booksellers claim Shakespeare's annotated dictionary
UK Metro: If Shakespeare had Twitter 

The Independent: 50 everyday phrases that came from the Bard  

Huffington Post: Shakespeare at 450

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Happy birthday, novelist Henry Fielding

It is the birthday of English writer Henry Fielding (1707), whose most famous novel, Tom Jones (1749) was written after a successful career as a playwright, novelist, jurist, and magistrate. Much of his work satirized contemporary English life. Tom Jones concerns comic exploits of a lusty young man who was found by a wealthy country gentleman and raised from infancy. His apparent low class origins prevents his developing a budding romance with a wealthy neighbor’s daughter. The book was  full of sexual promiscuity and quite unusual for the era in which it was published. Sir Walter Scott called Fielding the father of the English novel. Fielding and his brother, John, also founded London’s first police force, the Bow Street Runners, in 1749.

Monday, April 21, 2014

Happy birthday, naturalist John Muir

Teddy Roosevelt and John Muir on Glacier Point in Yosemite National Park (1906).
It is the birthday of naturalist John Muir (1838), who founded the Sierra Club and helped preserve Sequoia National Park and Yosemite Valley in the West, and influenced President Theodore Roosevelt to protect other vast wilderness areas. In 1867, Muir set out on a wilderness walk from Indiana to Florida. He ended up at Cedar Key, where he began working at a sawmill. He nearly died of malaria there but recovered and took a ship to Cuba. His journal was published as A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf (1916) two years after his death. Muir wrote extensively about the wilderness and the importance of preservation, including Our National Parks (1901), My First Summer in the Sierra (1911), and The Yosemite (1912). 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Happy birthday, Texas hero Deaf Smith

It is the birthday of Texas revolutionary hero Deaf Smith (1787), whose intelligence gathering during the Texas war for independence helped lead to the victory over the Mexican Army and the establishment of the Republic of Texas. At first Smith, who had settled in the San Antonio area after moving from Mississippi in the early 1820s, refused to become involved in the growing dispute between the Mexican government and Texian settlers. But when he returned from a hunting trip and Mexican soldiers wouldn’t let him return to his home, Smith was furious. He joined the Texian Army and spent the rest of the war spying on the Mexicans. Later, he formed a company of Texas Rangers.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Happy birthday, George Henry Lewes

It is the birthday of English philosopher and critic George Henry Lewes (1817), who flouted Victorian social norms and openly lived with author George Eliot, though were never married. Lewes had an open marriage with his wife, Agnes. Lewes went to Germany with Marian Evans (who later wrote under the name George Eliot) to do research. Evans considered the trip a honeymoon, and afterward, referred to Lewes as her husband. Lewes wrote about theater, literature, science, and philosophy. His most well-known books are The Biographical History of Philosophy (1846) and Life of Goethe (1855).

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Happy birthday, financier J.P. Morgan

It is the birthday of financier J.P. Morgan (1837), who was one of the richest and powerful men in America in the era of the Robber Barons. He supplied gold to the U.S. Treasury to end the Panic of 1896. He personally averted the banking Panic of 1907 by locking financial leaders in his New York mansion until they agreed to solutions to the problem. He merged companies to form General Electric and U.S. Steel. He underwrote the rescue of The New York Times from financial disaster. Morgan was an avid collector of art, books and gemstones. He contributed to the American Museum of Natural History and helped start the Metropolitan Museum of Art. His private collection formed the foundation of the Pierpont Morgan Library.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Happy birthday, John M. Synge

It is the birthday of Irish dramatist and writer John M. Synge (1871), whose best-known play, The Playboy of the Western World (1907), caused riots when it was first performed in Dublin. The play concerned a young man who runs away from his father’s farm. In a tavern, he claims to have killed his father, and attracts the attention of the barmaid and the townspeople, becoming something of a local hero. Audiences considered the work immoral and staged protests. Synge was a co-founder of the famous Abbey Theatre, where the show was performed, and was a leading figure in the Irish literary revival in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Happy birthday, A. Philip Randolph

It is the birthday of civil rights and labor leader A. Philip Randolph (1889), who is credited with forming the first predominantly black labor union, the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters in 1925. The union succeeded to winning better working conditions and pay for workers. In 1941, he organized a march on Washington to seek an end to discrimination in war industries. However, the march never took place because President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued an executive order that became known as the Fair Employment Act. Later, Randolph led a protest seeking to end segregation in the armed forces, following which President Harry Truman issued an executive order to do just that. Randolph was born in Crescent City, Florida, and raised in Jacksonville.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Happy birthday, James Branch Cabell

It is the birthday of writer James Branch Cabell (1879), whose books of humorous fantasy captivated readers in the 1920s but fell out of favor by the 1930s. His best-known book was Jurgen: A Comedy of Justice (1919), in which the medieval protagonist seeks chivalrous courtly love but instead seduces women everywhere he goes. It contains parodies of the Arthurian legend as he encounters Queen Guinevere and The Divine Comedy as he dallies with the Devil’s wife. Filled with double entendres, the book attracted the attention of self-appointed censors. After two years, the publisher won an obscenity trial, which had the effect of gaining the book and the author a much wider audience. Cabell published 52 books, including short story collections, poetry, genealogies, and novels.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Francis P. Blair, advisor to Presidents

It is the birthday of journalist Francis P. Blair, Sr. (1791), editor of the Washington Globe newspaper and a staunch supporter of Andrew Jackson. His residence in Washington is known as the Blair House and serves today as the President’s guest house. Blair also was a member of Jackson’s so-called Kitchen Cabinet group of unofficial advisors. Blair also was an unofficial advisor to Abraham Lincoln and served as the go-between in an unsuccessful bid to get Robert E. Lee to head the Union Armies at the beginning of the Civil War. Blair, originally a Democrat, helped found the Republican Party. Blair had a summer home in Maryland near a spring he called Silver Spring. The city took its name from Blair’s estate. The town of Blairsville, Georgia, is named for him. It is in Union County, named for the Union Party that helped get Andrew Jackson elected president.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Happy birthday, Adriano Olivetti

It is the birthday of Italian industrialist Adriano Olivetti (1901), who is credited with transforming his father’s business machine company from a shop environment into an efficient manufacturing operation. Shortly after graduating from Polytechnic University of Turin, Olivetti visited a Remington plant in the United States and returned with ideas for reorganization that eventually doubled his company’s output. Olivetti typewriters, calculators, and computers are known and used around the world. Adriano Olivetti was devoted to utopian philosophy and put it into practice by reinvesting profits in increased salaries, fringe benefits, and services. In the late 1950s, Olivetti workers were the most productive in the industry and the highest paid.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Happy birthday, Eadweard Muybridge

It is the birthday of Eadweard Muybridge (1830), who is remembered for his pioneering work in motion picture photography. His series of photographs of animals and humans to study their movements are iconic in the history of photography. Muybridge also was a bookseller when he moved from England to San Francisco in 1855. Here is an interesting biography about Muybridge that reveals much more of his background.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Honoring explorer Juan Ponce de Leon

Mural by Addison Burbank first exhibited at the 1933 A Century of Progress Exposition in Chicago.
Historians don’t know the date Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon was born, and they aren’t too sure about the year either (some say 1460, others say 1474 or 1475). What is known is that when he was governor of Puerto Rico and overseeing mining of gold there, he set sail for the island of Bimini in search of more gold, and ended up on the east coast of Florida (which he thought was another island) on Easter Sunday, March 27, 1513. He named the land La Florida because of the lush vegetation he found and the season, which the Spanish called Pascua Florida or Festival of Flowers. The name stuck. Historians generally agree he probably was looking for gold and slaves, not the legendary Fountain of Youth, though the myth persists in popular culture.

Monday, April 7, 2014

Happy birthday, Marjory Stoneman Douglas

It is the birthday of renowned writer and environmentalist Marjory Stoneman Douglas (1890), whose book The Everglades: River of Grass (1947), helped create public awareness of the natural treasure that is the Everglades. Here is an amazing 1985 film from the Florida Department of State about this extraordinary woman.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Happy birthday, Georg Gottfried Wagner

It is the birthday of German cantor and composer Georg Gottfried Wagner (1686), who served in a church in Plauen, in eastern Germany southwest of Dresden. He studied under Johann Sebastian Bach at the University of Leipzig and later received a recommendation letter from him when he applied for the position in Plauen. He served there 30 years.

Friday, April 4, 2014

Happy birthday, William Strachey

It is the birthday of English writer William Strachey (1572), who is remembered for his harrowing account of the shipwreck of the Sea Venture on uninhabited Bermuda in 1609 while on a voyage to the English colony in Virginia. Scholars think Shakespeare based his play The Tempest on Strachey’s published report of the incident. During 10 months on the island, Strachey’s party rebuilt two ships from the wreckage and completed the trip to Virginia. Strachey also compiled a written record of the laws of the Virginia colony, a travel history of the colony, and a dictionary of the native Powhatan people. Here is an audio animatronic depiction of Strachey in a museum exhibit in Bermuda.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Happy birthday, Iron Eyes Cody

It is the birthday of Iron Eyes Cody (1907), an actor who is best remembered for his 1971 television commercial for the Keep America Beautiful anti-litter campaign with its iconic close-up showing a single tear running down his cheek. Cody portrayed American Indians throughout his career and claimed to be of Cherokee/Creek extraction, though he was actually a second-generation Italian-American who was born Espera DeCorti. He married an Indian woman, Bertha Parker, and adopted two Indian boys. He dressed in Native American garb, including a buckskin jacket and beaded moccasins.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Happy birthday, Giacomo Casanova

It is the birthday of famed adventurer and legendary lover Giacomo Casanova (1725), who is remembered today for his sexual escapades, elaborate scams, prison stints, and narrow escapes largely because of his memoir, Story of My Life, which was finally published in the original version in 1960, though heavily censored versions appeared as early as 1822. It covered his life through 1774 and he began writing it in 1789 and revising for the next six years. Casanova wrote his story in French because it was more widely known than his native Italian. He wrote numerous works in Italian as well. Casanova’s story has been told in numerous fiction and non-fiction books, as we’ll as feature films. 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Happy birthday, Diamond Jim Fisk

It is the birthday of Diamond Jim Fisk (1835), one of the Gilded Age robber barons remembered for causing Black Friday on September 24, 1869, by trying to corner the gold market on the New York Gold Exchange, thus ruining many investors. He battled Cornelius Vanderbilt over control of the Erie Railroad, and was notorious for openly bribing legislatures and buying off judges in the Boss Tweed era. He died at age 36, shot by a former business associate who had run off with Fisk’s mistress.

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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.

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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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