Fun Facts Friday: Maya Angelou
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / April 4, 2014

Today we celebrate the birthday of notable author and poet Maya Angelou (4 April, 1928). Her life is an inspiration to many people and she is known for captivating the audiences through her magical lyrics and beauty of her words in her poems. Books by Maya Angelou The author’s birth name is Marguerite Ann Johnson Ms. Angelou’s older brother nicknamed her  “Maya,” shortened from “My” or “Mya Sister.” Ms. Angelou’s grandmother took in her grandchildren for several years due to their parents’ divorce. The kids lived with their grandmother, a smart and honest store owner, for several years in Stamps, Arkansas. Ms. Angelou was abused at the age of 8 by her mother’s boyfriend. The man was found guilty, spent one day in jail (?) and was murdered a few days after his release. Ms. Angelou was She was active in the Civil Rights movement, and worked with Martin Luther King, Jr. and Malcolm X. King was assassinated on her 40th birthday. Ms. Angelou’s jobs when she was younger included a table dancer and a madam for lesbian prostitutes. Ms. Angelou’s first album, Miss Calypso, produced (1957), was made possible due to the popularity of her nightclub act. Ms. Angelou…

Fun Facts Friday: Phyllis McGinley
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / March 21, 2014

Phyllis McGinley (21, March 1905 – 22 February, 1978) wrote poetry and children’s books. Notable for her satiric tone and light verse, Mrs. McGinley specialized in focusing on the positive side of life.  Books by Phyllis McGinley Mrs. McGinley’s father was a land speculator. The reason they settled in Cliff, CO was because he couldn’t sell the land. Mr. McGinley’s father passed away when she was 12, she then moved in with relatives in Ogden. While attending the University of Utah, Mrs. McGinley entered a university contest for the best poetry, short stories, and essays. She submitted entries under pseudonyms in all categories and twice won all the cash awards. While at the college, the author also submitted her poetry to New York based magazines and moved to the city in 1929. While living in the big city, Mrs. McGinley held various jobs including a copywriter for an advertising agency, teacher in a junior high school in New Rochelle, and staff writer for Town and Country. Her future husband, Charles L. Hayden, worked for the Belle phone company and was a jazz player. Mrs. McGinley thought  Mr. Hayden’s jazz playing is a sign he would not be a good husband,…

Fun Facts Friday: Abe Kōbō
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / March 7, 2014

Abe Kōbō (27 March 7, 1924 – 22 January 22, 1993) was a Japanese writer who was also a photographer and playwright. Books by Abe Kōbō His name is pronounced AH-bay KOH-boh Following his father’s footsteps, Abe went to medical school. As the story goes, he was only allowed to graduate if he promised that he’ll never practice medicine. Some of the authors that were influenced Abe were Dostoyevesky, Kafka, Nietzche and Poe. Abe’s first published piece was the book Poems of an Unknown Poet (Mumei-shishū – 1947) which was self published. In 1948 Abe published The Road Sign at the End of the Street (Owarishi michi no shirube ni) which maked his transition into a novelist. Abe won international acclaim in 1962 for his novel The Woman in the Dunes. The author also started an acting studio in Tokyo, where he trained performers and directed as well. Abe was awarded the Akutagawa Prize for The Crime of S. Karuma (1951), the Yomiuri Prize for The Woman in the Dunes (1962), and the Tanizaki Prize for Friends(a play – 1967). Abe was nominated multiple times for the  Pulitzer Prize – but never won one. Abe collobaroted with famed Japanese director Hiroshi…

Fun Facts Friday: John Tenniel
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / February 28, 2014

John Tenniel (28 February, 1820 – 25 February, 1914) was a British illustrator and cartoonist whose work was prominent during the second half of England’s 19th century. These days Mr. Tenniel is remembered, in part, as the illustrator for Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Tenniel’s father, John Baptist Tenniel, was very athletic and worked as a dancing-master. The son learned fencing, dancing, riding and more from his father. However, at age 20 he suffered a cut which blinded his right eye. Tenniel concealed the injury from his father to spare him the guilt. At age 16 Tenniel’s paintings started to be exhibited at galleries. One of Tenniel’s first commissions was a fresco for the House of Lords. Tenniel had a photographic memory. John Tenniel worked as chief cartoon artist for Punch and his images were considered funny and radical. Tenniel drew 92 drawings for Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. Tenniel attended the Royal Academy but left in disgust at the quantity of teaching he received. Tenniel’s political cartoons played up the reacial stereotypes of the time (Jews with hooked noses, Africans with thick lips, etc.). Tenniel was…

Fun Facts Friday: Charles Dickens
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / February 7, 2014

Charles Dickens (7 February, 1812 – 9 June, 1870), prolific English author, is known to this day as the quintessential Victorian author. Books by Charles Dickens Charles Dickens was born as Charles John Huffam Dickens Dickens’ father was put in debtor’s prison and Charles was forced to leave school and go to work at a boot polish factory. The conditions at the factory were so bad that young Dickens suffered from … loneliness. When Dickens’ pet raven, Grip, died, he had it stuffed. The raven is now on display in Philadelphia.  after is it was purchased by Col. Richard Gimbel – a Dickens collector. Dickens wrote about Grip’s demise: “On the clock striking twelve he appeared slightly agitated, but he soon recovered, walked twice or thrice along the coach house, stopped to bark, staggered, exclaimed `Halloa old girl!’ (his favorite expression) and died.“ The first time Dickens was published, he was working in Monthly Magazine at age 21. The piece was called “A Dinner at Poplar Walk” and can be read online. Edward Bulwer Lytton Dickens, the author’s son, was named after Bulwer Lytton – an author and friend. Dickens put on a magic show with friends, he called himself…

Fun Facts Friday: Norman Mailer
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / January 31, 2014

Norman Mailer (31 January, 1923 – 10 November, 2004) was an American author, journalist, playwright, actor, film maker and political activist. Books by Norman Mailer Mailer was born in Long Branch, NJ under the name Nachem Malek. Mailer was 16 years old when he enrolled at Harvard University. As a soldier in the US Army during World War II he served in the Philippines and finished his career as a cook in Japan. Mailer’s military career inspired The Naked and the Dead, a semi-autobiographical book, which he wrote while enrolled at the Sorbonne in Paris, France. The book was very successful and 25 year old Norman Mailer became a celebrity. Mailer is known for his problems with alcohol, drugs, fistfights and fascination with boxes. I believe he also wrote some stuff.  The author was married six times which includes a marriage for a few days to Carol Stevens in order to legitimize their daughter. Mailer’s bibliography is impressive, over 30 books which include works of non-fiction, essays, biographies and novels. Norma Mailer won the Pulitzer twice – The Armies of the Night (1968), which also won the National Book Award, and The Executioner’s Song (1979). Mailer invented the term “factoid…

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