Five Fascinating Facts about Jack London

Fun interesting facts about Jack London, author of White Fang and The Call of the Wild

1. Jack London’s San Francisco home has a collection of some of the 600 rejections he received before he sold a single story. Born John Griffith Chaney in 1876, Jack London read voraciously as a youth, and amassed a library of some 15,000 volumes which he described as ‘the tools of my trade’. And he was also a prolific – and, it must be said, determined – author who, once he broke into the literary market, would write a wide range of works including dystopian fiction (see below), adventure stories (White Fang and The Call of the Wild, his most enduring books – though the 1904 book The Sea-Wolf is also worth mentioning here), realism (Martin Eden, about a struggling writer), post-apocalyptic fiction (The Scarlet Plague), and several volumes of memoirs (the most biographically illuminating of which is John Barleycorn). Read the rest of this entry

10 Great Conan Doyle Books That Don’t Feature Sherlock Holmes

The best Conan Doyle novels that don’t feature the great sleuth but are still definitely worth reading

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle often resented the fact that Sherlock Holmes overshadowed his other fiction, and to an extent he was right to do so. He was also a talented author of historical novels, science fiction, horror stories, and adventure tales as well as a pioneer of the detective story, as this list of our ‘non-Sherlock’ recommendations makes clear. Here are the best Conan Doyle books – aside from the Sherlock Holmes ones. We’ll begin at number 10 and work our way up to what we consider the very best book. Read the rest of this entry

Five Fascinating Facts about Just William

An interesting history of the popular children’s books, Just William

In 1922, T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land was published, James Joyce celebrated the publication of his novel Ulysses and Virginia Woolf’s third novel Jacob’s Room appeared. But amongst all this highbrow modernist literature, there was also another literary phenomenon arriving on the scene. He was eleven-year-old English schoolboy William Brown, who would become known to millions of devoted readers as ‘Just William’. Read the rest of this entry

Interesting Facts about The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Curious trivia about the classic L. Frank Baum novel The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and its afterlife

Surprisingly, the famous 1939 MGM film The Wizard of Oz was not the first time L. Frank Baum’s book had been adapted. It wasn’t even the second. In fact, the 1939 film The Wizard of Oz was the eighth film adaptation of L. Frank Baum’s original novel: it had already been filmed in 1910, 1914 (three times), 1925, 1932, and 1933, before the lavish movie starring Judy Garland was produced. Despite garnering positive reviews from critics, the 1939 film did poorly at the box office, despite its innovative use of Technicolour. How things have changed. It is now reckoned to be the most-watched film of all time. Salman Rushdie acknowledged the film as his first literary influence: ‘When I first saw The Wizard of Oz it made a writer of me.’ Read the rest of this entry

Five Fascinating Facts about Geoffrey Chaucer

Some fun facts about medieval English poet Geoffrey Chaucer

1. One of Chaucer’s earliest poems was ‘An ABC’, an acrostic which he wrote for people to use in prayer. Like much of Chaucer’s work, ‘An ABC‘ was a Middle English translation of a French work, in this case a prayer written by Guillaume de Deguileville. Each of the 26 eight-line stanzas begins with a successive letter of the alphabet. Probably written in the 1370s, the poem shows Chaucer’s art in its early stages of development. (Chaucer had been born in London around 1343 – the precise date of his birth is not known.) Read the rest of this entry

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