October 10 in Literature: The New York Times Book Review Is Born

The most significant events in the history of books on the 10th of October

1896: The New York Times publishes its first ‘Books’ section. This will later evolve into The New York Times Book Review. The editor’s note on this day read: ‘We begin today the publication of a Supplement which contains reviews of new books … and other interesting matter … associated with news of the day.’

1906: Indian writer R. K. Narayan is born.

1912: Charles Madge is born. A poet and journalist, Madge was one of the founders of Mass Observation in the 1930s.

1950: Nora Roberts is born. She is estimated to be the 18th bestselling fiction author ever, at least according to this Nora Robertslist from Wikipedia. (Such lists always involve a fair amount of guesswork.) According to the list, she has sold anything between 145 million and a whopping 400 million novels.

1985: Orson Welles dies. His early success, before he shot to fame as the director and star of Citizen Kane in 1941, was his radio adaptation of H. G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds in 1938. But Orson Welles shared more with H. G. Wells than the fact that the former adapted the latter’s book. Both men were called Well(e)s, but they were also both called George – ‘George’ was H. G. Wells’s middle name (his first name being Herbert), while George was Orson Welles’s real first name.

As it’s World Mental Health Day, we felt it appropriate to mention this post from our archives, in which Suzanne Shumway discusses five nineteenth-century writers and artists who spent some of their lives in insane asylums.

Image: Nora Roberts in 2007, via Dev Librarian, Wikimedia Commons.


  1. It’s interesting that Nora Roberts was born on the same day as the review journal that barely acknowledges her books. ;)

  2. Ah, the New York Times Book Review! I shall celebrate this with a good book and hot chocolate ;)