Interesting Facts about Far from the Madding Crowd

Fun facts about Thomas Hardy’s novel Far from the Madding Crowd

Far from the Madding Crowd, first published in 1874, remains one of Hardy’s most popular novels. It was his first big success as a writer – his fourth published novel, it was the one which helped to convince him that abandoning architecture in favour of writing novels could be a lucrative career move. It is among the most adapted of Hardy’s novels. (If you’re interested in learning more about Hardy’s books, check out our compilation of the best Thomas Hardy novels.)

Far from the Madding Crowd was first adapted for film in 1915; the most celebrated big-screen adaptation to date is John Schlesinger’s 1967 film, starring Julie Christie as Bathsheba Everdene. Now, in 2015, a new film adaptation is hitting the cinemas, with a screenplay by Starter for Ten author David Nicholls and with Carey Mulligan in the role of Bathsheba. Read the rest of this entry

Five Fascinating Facts about Aldous Huxley

Interesting trivia about the life of Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World

1. Aldous Huxley was the great-nephew of Matthew Arnold. Aldous Huxley (1894-1963), the author best known for the dystopian novel Brave New World (1932), could boast the nineteenth-century poet and educational reformer Arnold (1822-88) as his great-uncle. This literary ancestry is worth mentioning at the outset of this list of interesting Aldous Huxley facts, not least because it is often eclipsed in accounts of Huxley’s life by his more famous family connection – namely, his grandfather, the great Victorian biologist T. H. Huxley, who coined the word ‘agnostic’. And while we’re discussing the coining of words…  Read the rest of this entry

Interesting Facts about Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary

A short interesting history of Doctor Johnson’s celebrated Dictionary of the English Language

Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary is his crowning achievement: it is more famous than his one novel (Rasselas) and, although he was also a gifted poet, it is for his lexicography above all else that Johnson is remembered. First published in two large volumes in 1755, the book’s full title was A dictionary of the English Language: in which the words are deduced from their originals, and illustrated in their different significations by examples from the best writers. To which are prefixed, a history of the language, and an English grammar. It’s no surprise that it’s usually known as ‘Johnson’s Dictionary’. What follows are some of our favourite interesting facts about Samuel Johnson’s Dictionary – a monumental achievement in English literary scholarship.

Johnson’s wasn’t the first English dictionary: before his, there had been several such works. Richard Mulcaster had compiled a list of English words in the sixteenth century (albeit without definitions), and in 1604 Robert Cawdrey’s Table Alphabeticall had appeared. Read the rest of this entry

10 Rare But Useful Words Everyone Should Know

Is there a word for that? Here are ten of the best useful rare words in the English language

Ever caught yourself thinking, ‘There should be a word for that. Is there a word for that?’ We’re here to help. In this new post, we’ve gathered up ten useful words which should be better known, but aren’t. Many of them, of course, have literary origins or histories, which we’ll mention and discuss as we go.

UHTCEARE: This highly useful word means ‘lying awake before dawn worrying’. It appears in the Anglo-Saxon poem ‘The Wife’s Lament’, and has recently become more widely known thanks to Mark Forsyth, who includes it in his book The Horologicon.

QUAKE-BUTTOCK: This is another term for a coward, and appears in the plays of seventeenth-century playwrights Beaumont and Fletcher. We reckon it should be revived. Read the rest of this entry

Five Fascinating Facts about Samuel Beckett

The life of Samuel Beckett, told through five pieces of literary and biographical trivia

1. The ominous date of his birth amused him. Born on Good Friday, 13 April, 1906, Samuel Barclay Beckett enjoyed the irony of being born on a date ripe with religious connotations – not least because, as well as being Good Friday, it was a date ripe with different, superstitious associations: Friday the 13th. Read the rest of this entry

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