October 4 in Literature: Guys and Dolls Author Born

The most significant events in the history of books on the 4th of October

What events of particular historical significance occurred on October 4? The day was a good one for literary history and the world of books: Wordsworth got married, and a couple of popular writers whose work would inspire major successes in other fields were born…

1802: William Wordsworth marries his childhood friend Mary Hutchinson; the couple would live for many years with William’s sister Dorothy. William and Mary would have five children, though three of them, sadly, would die before their parents.

1880: Damon Runyon, author of Guys and Dolls, is born. Well, we say ‘author of Guys and Dolls‘, but the two stories which served as the source material for the popular musical were actually titled ‘The Idyll of Miss Sarah Brown’ and ‘Blood Pressure’. The musical premiered in 1950, four years after Runyon’s death. Runyon wrote many tales of gangster life in 1920s America, and one of the characters to feature in his stories goes by the sobriquet ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’. The rock band Elbow would use this name as the title of their fourth album in 2008. Runyon is also often credited with coining the phrase ‘Hooray Henry’ (Runyon provides the dictionary with the earliest use of the phrase, albeit in the form ‘Hoorah Henry’ from 1936).

Anne Rice1932: Ann Thwaite, literary biographer (of A. A. Milne and Edmund Gosse), is born.

1941: Anne Rice, author of Interview with the Vampire, is born with the name Howard Allen Frances O’Brien.

1974: Poet Anne Sexton dies. She had suffered bouts of depression throughout her life, and on this day in 1974 she locked herself in her garage, connected a hosepipe to her car exhaust, turned on the engine, and committed suicide by carbon monoxide poisoning. Her work influenced Sylvia Plath‘s and, along with Plath, she was a proponent of the American confessional school of poetry.

It’s also worth mentioning that it’s World Animal Day. So in honour, some facts about authors and animals:

As a young girl, Virginia Woolf had pets including a marmoset, a squirrel, and a pet mouse she named Jacobi.

George R. R. Martin’s series A Song of Ice and Fire was inspired by the pet turtles he had as a child, about which he would make up stories.

Lord Byron kept a menagerie of wild animals which included monkeys, badgers, cranes, and crocodiles.

Names for T. S. Eliot’s pet cats included George Pushdragon, Noilly Prat, Pettipaws, Tantomile, and Wiscus.

Image: Anne Rice in 2006 by Anne Rice, Wikimedia Commons.

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