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Archive for the ‘history’ Category

HG Wells, author of The Time Machine and War of the Worlds, was born on September 21, 1866 in Bromley, England. His books help shape the science fiction genre, predicted many modern developments, and continue to “hook” readers on speculative writing.

But Herbert George Wells did more than write these two books, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Invisible Man, and articles, essays, and book reviews for Saturday Review also came from his pen. In addition, he promoted the writing careers of James Joyce and Joseph Conrad.

So science fiction fans (like me), should lift a mug of good English tea to HG Wells on this, the day of his birth!

Want to learn more about HG Wells? Check out this link.

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Charles Dickens was born on February 7, 1812 in Portsmouth, England. And I am among the millions of readers who are grateful.

Of course, sentimental reader that I am on occasion, I love his A Christmas Carol and the transformation of Scrooge most. That said, how can any reader not enjoy his many books including Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, Great Expectations, Nickolas Nickleby, Bleak House, and Hard Times.

An extravagance I usually don’t allow myself, I have purchased Charles Dickens complete works – and it is with great pleasure I open the volume and settle into the detailed and sometimes grim world of Dickens.

So Happy Birthday, Charles Dickens – and thanks! For more information on Dickens, check out this link.

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On January 27, 1832, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, was born in Daresbury, England. Better known to readers (including me) as Lewis Carroll, he spun one of the most popular stories of the Victorian era, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

It is no wonder Lewis Carroll developed into a storyteller – he was the eldest son in a family of 11 children. As the eldest daughter of 4 girls, I, too, developed storytelling abilities while trying to entertain my younger sisters – so I can identify with a part of his writer’s journey.

But Lewis Carroll’s most famous world – Wonderland – was born not from telling his younger siblings stories, but from telling tales to Alice Liddell and her sisters, daughters of George Liddell. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland was published in 1865 and Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found Then was published in 1871.

Though I imagine Lewis Carroll would be surprised by Walt Disney’s interpretation of his book and the more recent films staring Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter, I suspect he’d be delighted to see his imaginary world come to life on the screen.

So Happy Birthday, Lewis Carroll! If you’d like to know more about the creator of Twiddledum and Twiddledee, here’s a link.

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IMG_1821 Today is Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday. Born on January 19, 1809, Edgar lived only 40 years, but his impact on writing has lasted much longer.

Many of today’s writers of dark fantasy, horror, and detective stories can trace their genre’s roots back to Poe. And arguably, even science fiction short stories can find a rootlet embedded in one of his tales.

I, too, have always been a fan of Poe’s wonderfully fantastical tales and lyric poetry. So it is with admiration that I say, “Happy Birthday, Edgar Allan Poe!”

For those who want to learn more, here’s a link to more information on this American writer.

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Yes, Winnie-the-Pooh fans, today is the birthday of Alan Alexander Milne, the author of the two original books about Pooh Bear and his friends. Born on January 18, 1882 in London, England, AA Milne based his most famous books on the adventures (real or imaginary) of his son, Christopher Robin Milne and his stuffed animal playmates.

As a child, mom, and granny, I’ve always loved the characters who inhabit the Thousand Acre Wood. Pooh, Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Rabbit, Owl, Kanga and Roo, and of course, Christopher Robin, each bring a smile to the millions of readers who’ve spent some time in their presence.

Winnie-the-Pooh, published in 1926, and The House at Pooh Corner, published in 1928, are gifts to the children of the past, present, and future. Like all writers, I hope some of my stories will positively impact a few readers – so I guess, in a way, I aspire to be like AA Milne!

Want to learn more about AA Milne and his writing? Check out this link.

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November 30, 1835 was the birth date of Samuel L. Clemens, known by most by his “writing name” – Mark Twain.

He was a favorite author of mine as a younger reader, and continues to be one of the writers I revisit on a regular basis. In my mind’s eye, I picture the episode in Tom Sawyer where Tom feeds Aunt Polly’s cat some medicine – and I still laugh out loud! And though the book has become controversial due to its language, I’ve always felt the complicate portraits of Huck and Jim and questions put forth about slavery in Huckleberry Finn make it a must-read book.

I had the pleasure of visiting Hannibal, Missouri this year and seeing many of the locations made famous by Mark Twain’s books. The town was charming, and its museum on Samuel Clemens/Mark Twain fascinating.

I think Mark Twain deserves the label “Father of American Literature” which is often attached to this son of Florida, Missouri.

For more information, here’s the link to a video about his life.

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Today, of all days, it seems a difference of opinion is what it’s all about. But I’m not here to talk politics!

I did get drawn into a Facebook conversation about unicorns and Pegasus. (I know — my geeky side is about to shine).

Someone argued that a winged unicorn must be called an alicorn. I beg to differ. Alicorn is indeed a term sometimes used for a winged unicorn, but I believe the word means the horn of a unicorn. Originally, it appears alicorn comes from the Italian alicorno, alicorne meaning “unicorn.” And alicorno, alicorne appear to have their origins in a Latin word for unicorn: unicornis. (And I just confirmed what many have thought, I was one of the weird kids who chose Latin as my “language” in middle school and high school).

Alicorn remains a really cool word, just as the idea of a unicorn’s horn as a cure for poison is most magical. Alicorns or unicorn horns also appear on various coat-of-arms and other insignia, as well as in spell books and healer’s journals of long ago.

catseye_final-72dpi Which brings me to the first review of “In a Cat’s Eye,” the marvelous anthology of cat stories I recently edited (with Kelly A. Harmon) for Pole to Pole Publishing. I’m delighted with the review, and thank NerdGirl and NerdGirl Vamp for a wonderful review.

Alas, one of my favorite stories in “In a Cat’s Eye,” the reviewer, while saying it was good, didn’t really get. Oh, no!

But then I pause — language, politics, editing, and reviews all benefit from a difference in opinion — even if we don’t see it at first. For how boring this world would be if we were all alike.

 

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