October 18 in Literature: Moby-Dick is Published in London

The most significant events in the history of books on the 18th of October

1785: Thomas Love Peacock is born. He was the author of several satirical novels such as Headlong Hall (1815) and Nightmare Abbey (1818), and was also the father-in-law of the fascinating Victorian writer, George Meredith. Peacock also provides us with the first recorded use of the word ‘kakistocracy’, which means ‘government by the worst citizens’.

1851: Moby-Dick is first published in London. Herman Melville’s best-known novel actually spelled the start of a Herman Melvilledecline in his writing career: the book sold badly in his lifetime and, after several more attempts at writing, he gave up fiction in his later years. The novel is now regarded as an American classic – and, of course, it inspired the name for the Starbucks coffee chain.

1859: Henri Bergson, French philosopher, is born. His philosophical writings will influence a number of key modernist writers, including T. E. Hulme, Virginia Woolf, and T. S. Eliot. Particularly influential is his idea of ‘duration’, which concerns the psychological experience of time as opposed to objective and regulated ‘clock time’.

1865: Logan Pearsall Smith, an American-born British critic, is born. He coined the lovely word ‘milver’ for ‘a person with whom one shares a strong interest in a particular topic; esp. wordplay’. He also penned the wise words: ‘People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.’

1967: Disney’s The Jungle Book, based on Rudyard Kipling’s 1894 book, is released. It was the last film Walt Disney produced – he died during its production, a year earlier. We’ve compiled some facts about The Jungle Book here.

Image: Photo of Herman Melville, Wikimedia Commons, public domain.

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