Norman Mailer has been married six times.
Kingsley Amis and Martin Amis are father and son. Kingsley Amis’s books include Lucky Jim (1954) and Jake’s Thing (1978); Martin Amis’s novels include Success (1978) and Money (1984).
Sir Edward Dyer said, “My mind to me a kingdom is” in his 1588 poem of the same name.
Sherwood Anderson’s Winesburg, Ohio (1919) comprised of twenty-three stories.
A 1939 novel called Gadsby by Ernest Vincent Wright (1872-1939) was written without using the letter e. The novel runs 267 pages and has about 50,000 words.
The Pulitzer Prize for general non-fiction was first awarded in 1962 to Theodore H. White for The Making of the President 1960.
The longest-running play in theater history is The Mousetrap (1952) by Agatha Christie, which has never closed on the British stage. It was adapted from one of Christie’s stories.
Edward Stratemeyer, under the pseudonym Victor Appleton created Tom Swift.
Nelson Algren received the first National Book Award for Fiction in 1950 for The Man with the Golden Arm.
The illustrator’s counterpart to the Newbery Medal, named for English illustrator Randolph Caldecott, was first awarded in 1938 to Dorothy P. Lathrop for Animals of the Bible.
Robert Frost won four Pulitzer prizes, for New Hampshire (1924), Collected Poems (1931), A Further Range (1937), and A Witness Tree (1943).
Faust’s soul is rescued by a choir of angels at the end of Goethe’s Faust (1808).
Bluebeard, the title character of Charles Perrault’s story “Barbebleue” (1697) kills his wives for looking into the locked room where he stores the corpses of other disobedient wives. His final wife, however, escapes Bluebeard’s punishment.
The full title Of The Pickwick Papers is The Posthumous Papers of the Pickwick Club.
Bo Weinberg, Dutch Schultz’s former henchman is killed at the beginning of E. L. Doctorow’s novel Billy Bathgate. By Schultz’s orders, he is thrown off a ship with his feet encased in cement.
William Blake wrote “O rose, thou art sick” in “The Sick Rose” (1794).
P. L. Travers invented Mary Poppins, in a series of books beginning with Mary Poppins in 1934.
Charles Perrault’s 1697 French version of the tale has Cinderella wearing glass (verre) slippers, but his sources gave her fur (vair) slippers. Perrault’s alteration may have been accidental.
John Updike has written four Rabbit novels: Rabbit Run (1960), Rabbit Redux (1971), Rabbit Is Rich (1981), and Rabbit at Rest (1990). The hero of all four is Harry Angstrom, nicknamed “Rabbit.”
Thomas Paine wrote “These are the times that try men’s souls” in “The American Crisis,” a series of pamphlets he published between 1776 and 1783. When he wrote the opening sentence to the first pamphlet, the Revolutionary army had just retreated across New Jersey and defeat seemed imminent.
Ten Americans have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature: Sinclair Lewis (1930); Eugene O’Neill (1936); Pearl S. Buck (1938); William Faulkner (1949); Ernest Hemingway (1954); John Steinbeck (1962); Saul Bellow (1976); Isaac Bashevis Singer, a naturalized citizen (1978); Czeslaw Milosz, a naturalized citizen (1980); and Joseph Brodsky, a naturalized citizen (1987).
Natty Bumppo’s Indian sidekick was Chingachgook. He appears in Cooper’s The Deer-slayer (1841), The Last of the Mohicans (1826), The Pathfinder (1840), and The Pioneers (1823).
The title of Carlyle’s 1833-34 satire on German philosophy Sartor Resartus means “the tailor retailored” in Latin. It comments on the work of the fictitious Diogenes Teufelsdrockh, philosopher of clothes.
Theodor Seuss Geisel known as Dr. Seuss died on September 24, 1991, at age eighty-seven. Dr. Seuss had written about fifty books that sold more than 200 million copies. His last book, Oh, the Places You’ll Go (1990), was still on the bestseller list when he died.
Gloriana was the name of the Faerie Queene in Spenser’s The Faerie Queene (1590-96).
Jessie L. Weston’s From Ritual to Romance (1920) was the book about the Holy Grail quest that T. S. Eliot drew upon in his poem, The Waste Land.
“And so, as Tiny Tim observed, ‘God Bless us, Every One!’ “
These occupations of characters in Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales (c. 1387-1400) refer to the following: summoner—an officer who summoned suspects before the ecclesiastical courts canon’s yeoman—an attendant of a canon; a canon was a clergyman associated with a cathedral or large church franklin—a prosperous country man of low birth manciple—a steward of a community of lawyers … Read more
The E.H. in E. H. Shepard stands for Ernest Howard. Shepard illustrated A. A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh books (1926-28) and the 1931 edition of Kenneth Grahame’s The Wind in the Willows (1908).
Krook, the junk merchant, spontaneously combusts in Charles Dickens’s Bleak House. Krook, the junk merchant.
Eighteenth-century political philosopher Edmund Burke is credited with the term the “fourth estate”. Burke is supposed to have said, “Yonder [in the Reporters’ Gallery] sits the fourth estate, more important than them all.” The three other estates were the Lords Spiritual (clergy), the Lords Temporal (knights and barons), and the Commons.
Russian writer Ivan Turgenev coined the word “nihilist” in his 1862 novel Fathers and Sons.
Shangri-La, the setting for James Hilton’s 1933 novel Lost Horizon supposedly has a real-life counterpart in Hunza, Pakistan. The community, which boasts of having the healthiest people in the world, many over 100 years old, is located at the borders of Pakistan, China, and the Soviet Union.
In the 1898 essay “What is Art?” Leo Tolstoy defines art as: “a human activity, consisting in this, that one man consciously, by means of external signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived through, and that other people are infected by these feelings, and also experience them.”
William Wordsworth said “The Child is father of the Man”, in the poem “My Heart Leaps Up When I Behold” (1807).
George Gershwin’s opera Porgy and Bess is based on Porgy (1925), by Du Bose Heyward. Heyward and his wife, Dorothy, won a Pulitzer prize for their dramatic version of the novel. Porgy is a crippled beggar and gambler who lives on Catfish Row in Charleston, South Carolina. Bess is his drug-addicted mistress.
It is not Hans Brinker who wins the silver skates in Hans Brinker, but his sister Gretel, according to the 1865 novel by Mary Mapes Dodge.
In October 1849, the forty-year-old writer Edgar Allan Poe was found lying unconscious near a polling place in Baltimore. According to some reports, he had been fed liquor and dragged to various polling places to vote repeatedly. He was taken to a hospital where he remained semicomatose for three days. On October 7, 1849, at … Read more
Robert Herrick said, “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may”, in the first line of the 1648 poem “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time.”
Thoreau lived in his hut at Walden Pond for two years from 1845 to 1847. His account of the experience, Walden, or Life in the Woods, appeared in 1854.
Yes, Erle Stanley Gardner was a lawyer. Born in 1889, he was admitted to the California bar in 1911 and was known for defending poor Chinese and Mexicans. In the 1940s, he founded the Court of Last Resort, an organization dedicated to helping people unjustly imprisoned.
Dr. Spielvogel is the psychiatrist to whom Alexander Portnoy tells his story in Philip Roth’s Portnoy’s Complaint.
T. S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men” (1925) says the world ends “Not with a bang but a whimper”.
The three subjects of Gertrude Stein’s Three Lives are as follows: “The Good Anna” is about a German servant, “Melanctha” is about a young black woman, and “The Gentle Lena” is about a German maid.
The Old Testament was written in Hebrew. It dates from the thirteenth to the first century B.C. The New Testament was written in Greek in the first century A . D.
The Greek ships are enumerated in Book II of Homer’s Iliad.
Jean-Paul Sartre refused the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1964. He explained: “A writer must refuse to allow himself to be transformed into an institution.”
John Berryman commit suicide on January 7, 1972. He jumped off a bridge into the Mississippi River. He was fifty-eight.
The first book published by Dr. Seuss was And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street. It was published in 1937 by Vanguard Press, after being rejected by twenty-three other publishers.
In the 1952 novel Charlotte’s Web by E. B. White, the first message Charlotte the spider writes in her web is “SOME PIG!”
Philip Pirrip was Pip’s real name in Great Expectations.
The book describes the epidemic of bubonic plague that ravaged England in 1665. Defoe’s fictionalized account was published in 1722. Defoe himself was only five years old when the plague hit London.
William Ernest Henley (1849-1903) says “I am the master of my fate/I am the captain of my soul” in “Invictus.”
Antigone was produced on stage first (441 B.C.), followed by Oedipus the King (c. 426 B.C.) and Oedipus at Colonus (first produced after the author’s death in 405 B.C.). However, the story recounted by the plays follows a different order: Oedipus the King first; Oedipus at Colonus second; Antigone last.
In Rudyard Kipling’s Kim (1901), Kim’s full name is Kimball O’Hara.
The names of the Brothers Grimm were Jacob Ludwig and Wilhelm Carl.
The opening line: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring … Read more
At the beginning of Henry Fielding’s novel Tom Jones (1749), it appears his mother is Jenny Jones, servant of Squire Allworthy. By the end of the novel, his true mother is revealed: Bridget, Squire Allworthy’s sister. Henry
The satire of America, called The Confidence Man, was the last work of Herman Melville published in his lifetime. It was published in 1857 to little public notice. Melville died in 1891.
Ernest Hemingway was married four times.
The alternative title to Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein was The Modern Prometheus.
Critics Carl and Mark Van Doren related were brothers. Both were members of the faculty of Columbia University, Carl from 1911 to 1930, Mark from 1920 to 1959.
The mixture of Russian with American and British slang in A Clockwork Orange is called “Nadsat.”
Hazel Motes founded the Church Without Christ in Flannery O’Connor’s Wise Blood, “where the blind don’t see and the lame don’t walk and what’s dead stays that way.” A charlatan named Onnie Jay Holy started a rival sect, the Holy Church of Christ Without Christ.
The title of O. Henry’s short story collection The Four Million refers to two things: it represents the population of New York City at the time, and it is an answer to Ward McAllister, who said “there are only about 400 people in New York society.” The collection contains the 1902 story, “The Gift of … Read more
Mary McCarthy’s 1963 novel The Group concerns eight women students at Vassar. Their names are: Dottie, Helena, Kay, Lakey, Libby, Pokey, Polly, and Priss.
In James Thurber’s short story “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty”, mild-mannered Walter Mitty imagines that he is a Navy hydroplane commander flying through a howling storm.
Finnegan in Finnegans Wake is an Irish hod carrier who dies after a fall. At his wake, he is momentarily returned to life at the mention of the word “whiskey.” The name also refers to legendary Irish hero Finn MacCool, who is supposed to “wake again” someday to save Ireland.
Albany-born Daniel Quinn, the protagonist of Quinn’s Book, is the grandfather of Danny Quinn of Ironweed (1983). Ironweed is part of the Albany Cycle, which also includes Legs (1975), Billy Phelan’s Greatest Game (1978), and Very Old Bones (1992).
Wilkins Micawber, the schemer in David Copperfield (1861), is said to be based on Charles Dickens’s own father. Wilkins Micawber, the schemer in David Copperfield (1861), is said to be based on Charles Dickens’s own father.
In Dostoyevsky’s 1880 novel, Fyodor Pavlovich Karamazov has four sons: Dmitri, Ivan, Alyosha, and Smerdyakov, a bastard. Dmitri is the son accused of killing his father.
James Joyce and Nora Barnacle probably had their first date on June 16, 1904, Bloomsday, the day on which Ulysses (1922) is set. She was then a chambermaid at Finn’s Hotel, Dublin.
Edward Stratemeyer created Nancy Drew, under the pseudonym Carolyn Keene. The prolific author died in 1930.
The Biltmore Hotel in New York City threw out newlyweds F. Scott Fitzgerald and Zelda Sayre, following their wedding on April 3, 1920. The management asked them to leave because of their unseemly behavior.
The first and middle names of the twentieth-century English critic I.A. Richards are Ivor Armstrong.
Winston Churchill won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1953 for The Second World War.
A Confederacy of Dunces was published eleven years John Kennedy Toole’s death. Born in 1937, Toole finished his comic novel of New Orleans in 1963, but failed to find a publisher. He committed suicide in 1969. With the help of the novelist Walker Percy, his mother succeeded in getting the book published in 1980. Dunces … Read more
“Stella” was Esther Johnson, a woman Swift once tutored at the household of Sir William Temple in England. Swift’s letters to Johnson and her companion Rebecca Dingley, written from 1710 to 1713, are known as Journal to Stella.
The Chinese master criminal Dr. Fu Manchu appeared in 13 novels by Sax Rohmer beginning in 1913. He received his main opposition from Sir Denis Nayland Smith, loosely connected with Scotland Yard. Smith’s sidekick was Dr. Petrie.
The main character in James Joyce’s Finnegans Wake is Humphrey Chimpden Ear-wicker, a pubkeeper in Dublin who is trying to live down an undisclosed crime he committed against a young woman (or man) in the park. Earwicker is also known as Here Comes Everybody and Haveth Childer Everywhere, and is linked with Adam, Jesus Christ, … Read more
For nearly ten years the short story writer Guy de Maupassant apprenticed himself to Flaubert to learn to write fiction.
Anne Tyler’s first novel was If Morning Ever Comes (1965), written in her early twenties. Born in 1941, Tyler was respected by critics but did not become widely known until Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant in 1982.
Science-fiction writer Kilgore Trout is a recurring character in Kurt Vonnegut’s books, including God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater (1965), Slaughterhouse-Five (1969), Breakfast of Champions (1973), and Jailbird (1979).
Zelda Fitzgerald wrote one novel, Save Me the Waltz (1932).
The tragedy Samson Agonistes by John Milton, about Samson’s battle of faith and destruction of the Philistine temple, spans one day.
The bank employee Joseph K. is arrested for no apparent reason on his thirtieth birthday Kafka’s The Trial.
Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne are buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Massachusetts.
Virginia Woolf’s maiden name was Adeline Virginia Stephen. She married Leonard Woolf in 1912.
The author of On the Road (1957) Jack Kerouac died at age forty-seven on October 21, 1969, of a massive gastric hemorrhage associated with alcoholism, in St. Petersburg, Florida.
These romances about life in Scotland were published anonymously by Sir Walter Scott under the credit “the author of Waverley.” The first book, Waverley, appeared in 1814 and helped to shift Scott’s career from poetry to fiction. The Waverley novels include: Guy Mannering (1815) Old Mortality (1816) Rob Roy (1818) The Heart of Midlothian (1818) … Read more