Fun Facts Friday: Miguel de Cervantes
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / September 30, 2011

Yesterday was the birthday of one of the greatest authors in history: Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra (29 September 1547 – 23 April 1616. As you can tell, I am a fan. Not only because of the Quixotic pun of this blog’s name, but also because I think that Don Quixote is still one the most relevant stories in the world.  Image by Gustave Doré “The pen is the language of the soul; as the concepts that in it are generated, such will be its writings.” Miguel de Cervantes 1 ) Very little is known about Cervantes’ early childhood, however we do know that he was a favorite student of Madrid humanist Juan Lopez. 2 ) In 1569, while living in Rome, Cervantes enlisted in the Spanish fleet to fight against the Turks. He suffered injury at the Battle of Lepanto (1571) which ended his aspirations for military glory. 3 ) On his way home from the war (1575) Miguel and his brother Roderigo were captured by Barbary pirates and became slaves until their ransom was paid five years later. 4 ) Returning to Madrid, Cervantes started writing. Even though he is thought to have written as many as 30 plays,…

Fun Facts Friday: The Marriage of Leo & Sofya Tolstoy
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / September 23, 2011

September 23, 1862 marks the wedding anniversary of one of them the most tumultuous couples in literary history (and there were many) when Leo Tolstoy married Sophie Andreyevna Behrs. The couple not only had 16 years of difference in their ages, but also had different values, goals and clashing personalities. Tolstoy maintained that the problems started about 14 years into their marriage, he wrote in 1894: “It began that time fourteen years ago, when the string snapped and I became aware of my loneliness.” But in his 1994 book “Love and Hatred: The Troubled Marriage of Leo and Sonya Tolstoy”, journalist William L. Shirer (Amazon Page) wrote: “In truth, their diaries show, it began at the very outset of their marriage.” 1 ) Leo and Sofya’s mothers were childhood friends. 2 ) Leo decided that if Sofya’s sister, Tanya, sang the last high note of a song well it would be a sign from G-d to propose. Tanya sang. Leo proposed. Sofya accepted. Leo, a writer through and through, proposed through a letter: “Sofya Andreyevna, the situation has become intolerable to me. Every day for three weeks I have sworn to myself: today I shall speak; and every day I…

Fun Facts Friday: Mort Walker
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / September 2, 2011

Tomorrow, September 3 will be the birthday of author and cartoonist Mort Walker (September 3, 1923). Mr. Walker (website) is mostly known for creating the comic strip Beetle Bailey in 1950 as well as Hi and Lois in 1954. Mr. Walker has written several excellent books on comics history and comic art as well as children’s books. 1 ) Born Addison Morton Walker in El Dorado, KS but grew up in Kansas City, MI. 2 ) Published his first comic strip at age 11. 3 ) Sold his first cartoon at age 12. 4 ) At 15 Mr. Walker already worked as a comic=strip artist for a newspaper and was chief editorial designer at Hall Brothers by the time he was 18. 5 ) Serving in the Army during World War II, Mr. Walker was honorably discharged as a first lieutenant. 6 ) “Beetle Baily” was picked up for syndication in 1950 by King Features. 7 ) In 1954 the Army’s paper Stars & Stripes dropped the strip because “it supposedly engendered lack of respect for officers”. Subsequently and due to the large press this move received the strip was picked up by more than 100 newspapers. 8 ) In…

Fun Facts Friday: Theodore Dreiser
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / August 26, 2011

Tomorrow will be the birthday of American novelist Theodore Dreiser (August 27, 1871 – December 28, 1945). Mr. Dreiser is known for many things, among them are the situations he created which resemble nature studies more than the philosophical choice of agency. 1 ) Born Theodore Herman Albert Dreiser  in Terre Haute, Indiana and was 12 out of 13 children. 2 ) Dreiser’s first novel “Sister Carrie ” (1900) was received poorly due to moral objections at the time. Since then “Sister Carrie” has been described as the “greatest of all American urban novels”. 3 ) Dreiser’s “An American Tragedy“ (1925) was his first commercial success. 4 ) “An American Tragedy” was made into a movie 1931 and again in 1951 (called “A Place in the Sun“). 5 ) The book was critical of the American justice system and was based on a true story. 6 ) Dreiser’s work as a journalist influenced his books about “murder for money” which he considered an American disease. 7 ) His short story “My Brother Paul” was the base for the 1942 file “My Gal Sal“. 8 ) Dreiser not only talked the talk, but also walked the walk. He constantly fought censorship because he…

Fun Facts Friday: Jacqueline Susann
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / August 19, 2011

Tomorrow will be the birthday of bestselling author Jacqueline Susann (August 20, 1918 – September 21, 1974). While many people had issues with Ms. Susann’s writing skills, she did write several best sellers. 1 )      Jacqueline’s father, Robert, was a portrait painter, her mother, Rose Jans, was a school teacher. 2 )      Jacqueline was known as an intelligent, but lazy student. When Jacqueline scored 140 on her IQ test it prompted her mother to predict that she would become a good writer. 3 )      Wanting to become an actress, Jacqueline participated in seven movies or TV shows. 4 )      Jacqueline hosted a TV talk show called Jacqueline Susann’s Open Door which only lasted about two months. 5 )       “Valley of the Dolls” was rejected by several publishers before becoming a hit. 6 )      The book broke several sales records (it sold around 30 million copies). 7 )      Jacqueline made a cameo appearance as a reporter in the film “Valley of the Dolls”. 8 )      Even though she was in it, Jacqueline hated the film adaptation of her book and walked out of the premiere. 9 )      Jacqueline had three books on the bestseller list all at once. The books were…

Fun Facts Friday: Robert Southey
Fun Facts Friday , Latest Posts / August 12, 2011

On this day in 1774 Robert Southey (12 August 1774 – 21 March 1843), England’s poet laureate from 1813 until his death in 1843, was born. While Mr. Southey seems to have been forgotten by today’s world of poetry, in his time he was widely read and admired.

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