Fun Facts Friday: Marsden Hartley
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / January 4, 2019

Marsden Hartley (4 January, 1877 – 2 September, 1943) was an American essayist, poet and modernist painter. Books by Marsden Hartley* Born in Lewiston, Maine as Edmund, Mr. Hartley was the youngest of nine children. His mother died when he was eight years old, his father married Martha Marsden four years later. In his early twenties, he assumed the name Marsden. When Mr. Hartley was 14 years old, his family moved to Ohio, but he stayed in Maine working in a shoe factory. A year later he joined his family in Cleveland and began training at the Cleveland School of Art. Hartley excelled at the Cleveland School of Art, which gave him the opportunity and financial backing to study at New York’s William Merritt Chase’s School of Art and the National Academy of Design (winning the Academy’s Suydam Silver Medal for still-life drawing). At age 22 Mr. Hartley traveled in Europe and met writers and artists in Paris including Gertrude Stein and her circle of friends. World War I forced Mr. Hartley to come back to New York, he began wandering from place to place painting and writing. In 1923 his book Twenty-five Poems was published in Paris. In 1930…

Fun Facts Friday: Pío Baroja
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / December 28, 2018

Pío Baroja (28 December, 1872 – 30 October, 1956) was a Spanish writer, biographer and physician. Portrait by Joaquin Sorolla (1914) Books by Pio Baroja* Born as Pío Baroja y Nessi in San Sebastián , his father was Serafin Baroja, a noted writer at the time. Baroja started writing seriously at the age of 13. Even though he was a licensed physician, he only practiced for a short time in Cestona. His time as a student, however, was not wasted as it was material for his novel The Tree of Knowledge (El árbol de la ciencia – 1911). Other jobs the writer had were managing bakery of his aunt Juana Nessi ,and running for the Spanish parliament as a radical Republican. In 1899 the author met the Oscar Wilde and Jacques Élisée Reclus. In 1903 Mr. Baroja visited Tangier as a war correspondent for the newspaper El Globo. Ernest Hemingway was a fan of Mr. Baroja. When they met in October 1956 Mr. Hemingway said: “Allow me to pay this small tribute to you who taught so much to those of us who wanted to be writers when we were young. I deplore the fact that you have not yet…

Fun Facts Friday: Rebecca West
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / December 21, 2018

Rebecca West (21 December, 1892 – 15 March, 1983) was a British journalist, author and travel writer. Books by Rebecca West* The author’s birth name was Cicely Isabel Fairfield, she took her nom de plume from a Henrik Ibsen work called Rosmersholm, who rebellious heroine was of that name while training to be an actress in London. In 1947 Time called her “indisputably the world’s number one woman writer”. The Dreyfus affair made a big impression on Ms. West, showing the will to persecute minorities based on weak evidence and mob mentality. West, a leftist, was against the Bolshevik Revolution, and she paid a heavy price among her friends who refused to admit its failings even when faced with eyewitness accounts. West understood the evil which the Nazis stood for and attacked the Conservative government for its stance on appeasement, and the Liberal left for their stance on pacifism. West was a staunch anti-communist, but she never joined the conservative movement which held her in high regard. She wrote literary criticism for The Times, the New York Herald Tribune, the Sunday Telegraph, and The New Republic. When writing a review of H. G. Wells‘ novel Marriage, Ms. West called the…

Fun Facts Friday: Shirley Jackson
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / December 14, 2018

American author Shirley Jackson (14 December, 1916 -8 August, 1965) born on this day. She is best known for her excellent short story The Lottery. Books by Shirley Jackson* 1 ) Jackson believed in white and black magic 2 ) The author influenced Stephen King and Neil Gaiman 3 ) Jackson’s husband, Stanley Hyman, is a noted jazz and literary critic. 4 ) When The Lottery was published in The New Yorker (26 June, 1948) many readers cancelled their subscription in anger. 5 ) South Africa banned The Lottery all together. Jackson took it as a compliment. 6 ) Jackson completed six novels. 7 ) Jackson, a housewife as well as a writer, said that writing is “the only way I can get to sit down.” 8 ) Jackson died of heart failure, thought to be brought on by smoking and weight issues. 9 ) In 2007 the Shirley Jackson Awards were established. The prize is awarded in several categories (short fiction, novellas, etc.) to stories in horror , the dark fantastic ,and psychological suspense. 10) Stephen King wrote: that “there are few if any descriptive passages in the English language that are any finer than this; it is the…

Fun Facts Friday: Jonathan Swift
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / November 30, 2018

Jonathan Swift (30 November, 1667 – 19 October, 1745) was an English satirist, essayist, poet, and pamphleteer. Mr. Swift is remembered for his prose and satire in works like Gulliver’s Travels. Books by Jonathan Swift* Mr. Swift was born in Dublin, Ireland. His father, Jonathan Swift, was a lawyer. At Dublin University (Trinity College, Dublin) Mr. Swift studied to be a priest. In 1702 he finally received his Doctor of Divinity degree. In 1704 Mr. Swift published A Tale of a Tub and The Battle of the Books which helped him gain recognition as a writer. Together with his friends Alexander Pope, John Gay, and John Arbuthnot, Mr. Swift formed the core of Martinus Scriblerus Club in 1713. The Scriblerus Club was an informal association of authors. Mr. Swift immortalized his friend and lover Esther Vanhomrigh, 20 years older than him, in a poem called Cadenus and Vanessa (1713). This is the first time the name Vanessa was used as a woman’s name. English poet, critic, and translator John Dryden was a distant cousin of Mr. Swift (Mr. Dryden’s grandfather was the uncle of Mr. Swift’s grandmother). In fact, he wrote him a letter telling him “Cousin Swift, you will…

Fun Facts Friday: Shaun Herron
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / November 23, 2018

Shaun Herron (23 November, 1912 – 1989) is an Irish novelist, a finalist of the Edgar Award. Books by Shaun Herron* Herron was born in Carrickfergus in County Antrim. After high-school he started studying in Queen’s University Belfast. During the Spanish Civil War Mr. Herron left the University to join a Basque battalion that fought alongside the International Brigade. The author returned from the war after he was wounded in the leg. Instead of going back to Ireland, Mr. Herron found himself at Edinburgh University. In 1940 Mr. Herron was ordained a Congregationalist minister. During World War II he worked in Intelligence. Fighting in France with the Green Howards, Mr. Herron was wounded in the neck. When the war ended, Mr. Herron moved to Canada and served as a United Church minister in Weyburn, Saskatchewan. Heron was the Edgar Award finalist for his novels Miro (1969, 1970 finalist) and The Hound and the Fox and the Harper (1970, 1971 finalist) Books by Shaun Herron* Zohar – Man of la Book *Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account — Please like and follow —

Fun Facts Friday: George S. Kaufman
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / November 16, 2018

George S. Kaufman (16 November, 1889 – 2 June, 1961) was a playwright, humorist and critic, born in Pittsburgh, PA. Kaufman was a professional journalist writing humor columns, but in 1918 he decided to become a playwright. From 1921 to 1941 Mr. Kaufman had at least one hit Broadway show (either as a writer or directory). In 1937 Mr. Kaufman won the Pulitzer Prize for his play You Can’t Take It With You. You Can’t Take It with You was turned into a 1938 motion picture, and won a Best Picture Oscar, but the story was significantly changed for the film. Kaufman was married to Beatrice Bakrow in 1917 until her death in 1945. Four years later, he married Leueen MacGrath, an English actress he collaborated with. Kaufman wrote several musicals, including a few for the Marx Brothers. From 1949 to 1953 Mr. Kaufman wa as panelist on the CBS TV show This Is Show Business. Kaufman got fired by CBS because he “Let’s make this one program on which no one sings ‘Silent Night’.” The public outcry caused CBS to take that drastic action. The writer was an avid bridge player. Kaufman was played by actors David Thornoton (Mrs….

Fun Facts Friday: Charles Sprague the “Banker Poet of Boston”
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / October 26, 2018

Charles Sprague (26 October, 1791 – 22 January, 1875) was an American poet often known as the “Banker Poet of Boston”. Sprague’s father, Samuel Sprague, was a veteran of the American Revolutionary War and a participant in the Boston Tea Party. Sprague’s schooling ended at the age of 13. He was then apprenticed to a merchant where he gained practical knowledge of business. The poet won the best prologue prize at the 1811 opening of the Park Theater in New York City. That same year, Mr. Sprague’s poems were published in the Centennial, Boston Gazette, and The Evening Gazette. In 1814 Mr. Sprague married Elizabeth Rand. The couple had four kids, of which two made it to adulthood. He wrote many of his poems for public events. When the Marquis de Lafayette arrived in Boston, Mr. Sprague’s inscription were written on an arch that hung of the streets of the city. Harvard College gave the poet an honorary degree of Master of Arts. Charles James Sprague, the poet’s son, because the curator of botany at the Boston Society of Natural History. Two of the poet’s grandsons become renowned artists, Charles Sprague Pearce and W.H.S. Pearce. Zohar – Man of la…

Fun Facts Friday: Fannie Hurst
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / October 19, 2018

Fannie Hurst (19 October, 1885 – 23 February, 1968) was a novelist and short-story writer from Ohio. Books by Fannie Hurst* Hurst was born in Hamilton, OH, but grew up in St. Louis, MS. Her father owned a shoe factory. In 1909 Ms. Hurst wrote both the book and the lyrics for the comic opera The Official Chaperon during her last term in Washington University. Her marriage to Jacques Danielson was strange for the time (1920s), and even today. The couple lived their own separate lives, and even maintained separate residences. After Mr. Danielson passed away in 1952, Ms. Hurst wrote him a weekly letter for the next 16 years. During the 1920s Ms. Hurst was one of the highest paid American writers. Besides 19 novels, Mrs. Hurst also published more than 300 short stories, four plays (which were produced on Broadway), an autobiography and a memoir. Popular after World War I, Ms. Hurst supported many social causes included African American equality, New Deal programs, and feminism. Hurst was a friend of Eleanor Roosevelt and visited the White House often. Some of the public posts Ms. Hurst held were chair of the National Housing Commission (1936-37), and a delegated to…

Fun Facts Friday: Ann Petry
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / October 12, 2018

Ann Petry (12 October, 1908 – 28 April, 1997) was an American novelist, author of children’s books and short stories. Books by Ann Petry* The author was born as Ann Lane in Old Saybrook, CT. At the time she was one of 15 African Americans in the town. The author’s father was a pharmacist, her mother a shop owner. Anna Louise James, the first African American pharmacist in Connecticut was her aunt. She was also a pharmacist by profession, even though she wanted to be a writer since high school. After marrying George D. Petry in 1938, the author moved to New York City working as a journalist. The couple had one daughter, Liz. The Street (1946) was the first novel by an African-American woman to sell more than a million copies. The Street also won the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship award. Petry was also an actress with the American Negro Theater. Along with her writing career, Mrs. Petry was also a lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, Miami University and Suffolk University. She was also a Visiting Professor of English at the University of Hawaii. Petry passed away at Old Saybrook, she was 88 years old. Books by…

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