Five Fascinating Facts about H. Rider Haggard

Fun facts about the life and work of Henry Rider Haggard, author of King Solomon’s Mines and She

1. He is the author of one of the biggest-selling books of all time. H. Rider Haggard’s She (Oxford World’s Classics) (1887) is reckoned to be one of the bestselling novels ever published: by 1965 it had sold some 83 million copies. Ayesha, the ‘she’ of the title, is a powerful and mysterious white queen who rules the African Amahagger people. Ayesha has magic powers and is immortal, making She a fantasy adventure novel, precursor to the fiction of Tolkien, C. S. Lewis, and countless other writers of the twentieth century. The novel is also the origin of the phrase ‘she who must be obeyed’ – which, curiously, originated in a ‘hideous’ rag-doll owned by Haggard as a child. (The phrase would be given a new lease of life in John Mortimer’s Rumpole of the Bailey series.) She has been filmed numerous times and was even one of the first novels adapted for (silent) cinema, when Georges Méliès filmed it in 1899 as La Colonne de feu. It remains one of Haggard’s most popular novels, along with… Read the rest of this entry

10 Great Facts about Writers and Dogs

Short facts about writers and their pet dogs – and the canine figures in the works of famous authors

Fearing attacks from rivals, poet Alexander Pope rarely left his house without a brace of pistols and his dog, a Great Dane named Bounce.

Virginia Woolf’s first published essay was an obituary for the family dog, Shag.

The first draft of John Steinbeck’s novel Of Mice and Men was eaten by his dog, Max.

Emily Brontë’s dog, Keeper, followed her coffin to the grave when she died and, for weeks after, howled outside her bedroom door waiting for its owner to return. Read the rest of this entry

Five Fascinating Facts about William Ernest Henley

The life of Victorian writer W. E. Henley, told through five quick interesting facts

1. William Ernest Henley was the inspiration for one of the most recognisable characters in Victorian fiction. Henley (1849-1903) was friends with Robert Louis Stevenson, and when Stevenson wrote his first novel, Treasure Island (1883), he was inspired by Henley’s distinctive appearance to create the famous fictional pirate. Henley, who had suffered from tuberculosis from an early age, had his left leg amputated below the knee while still a teenager. Stevenson wrote to Henley that it ‘was the sight of your maimed strength and masterfulness that begot Long John Silver … the idea of the maimed man, ruling and dreaded by the sound, was entirely taken from you.’ Henley, who by all accounts exuded a masculine strength and vigour (and had a large red beard and a hearty laugh – a sort of Victorian Brian Blessed, we might say), thus became immortalised as the one-legged Silver. Read the rest of this entry

The Best Sourced Dorothy Parker Quotes

10 of the best quotes from Dorothy Parker and where they first appeared

We’ve compiled a list of ten of the wittiest and wisest quotations from the Dorothy Parker oeuvre, as well as some of her pithiest and most memorable one-liners. Many quotations have been attributed to Parker, but here we’ve confined ourselves to the things that she definitely did say.

There’s a hell of a distance between wise-cracking and wit. Wit has truth in it; wise-cracking is simply calisthenics with words. – Interview in Paris Review, 1956

I’m never going to be famous. My name will never be writ large on the roster of Those Who Do Things. I don’t do anything. Not one single thing. I used to bite my nails, but I don’t even do that any more. – ‘The Little Hours’, 1939 Read the rest of this entry

10 Stunning Libraries from Around the World

Our previous post on this subject, 10 Amazing Pictures of Libraries, proved so popular that we decided to put together a sort of sequel to it. Here are ten more stunning pictures of libraries from various countries, each of which will give the bibliophile, bibliomane, and bibliosexual something to enjoy.

Library 11. Merton College Library, Oxford, UK. Picture credit: Tom Murphy VII. Wikimedia Commons.

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