The most significant events in the history of books on the 22nd of November
1819: George Eliot is born. She was born Mary Ann Evans (sometimes known as Marian) and adopted the name George Eliot in 1856, when she launched her career in fiction. Eliot was the author of seven full-length novels, including Middlemarch and The Mill on the Floss, and was also the first person to refer to modern tennis and to ‘pop’ music.
1869: André Gide is born. This French author, recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1947, once observed: ‘With each book you write you should lose the admirers you gained with the previous one.’
1895: John Warren, 3rd Baron de Tabley, dies. This poet and collector wrote a number of fine poems which deserve to be better known, among them ‘The Study of a Spider‘.
1916: Jack London dies – but did he die by his own hand? This has never been conclusively proved, though the scales probably fall slightly more on the side of ‘yes’ than ‘no’. In his forty years he had achieved a great deal of success, becoming the first author in the world to become a millionaire from his writing. He is known for White Fang and The Call of the Wild, but he also wrote much else besides, including an early example of dystopian fiction, later acknowledged by George Orwell as an important early work.
1963: Aldous Huxley and C. S. Lewis die on the same day as John F. Kennedy is assassinated in Dallas, Texas. Consequently, and predictably, the deaths of these two writers were given scant media coverage. Aldous Huxley had taught his fellow dystopian writer George Orwell at Eton, while C. S. Lewis and his friend J. R. R. Tolkien, both tutors and professors at the University of Oxford, had a curious approach to dressing up for parties.
1993: Anthony Burgess dies. Like Huxley, Burgess is known principally for a dystopian novel, A Clockwork Orange. But Burgess returned to the dystopian genre on several occasions, including in 1977, when he wrote 1985, a response to Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four.
Image: The first picture of himself that Jack London gave to his wife Charmian (from The Book of Jack London by Charmian London), before 1921, Wikimedia Commons.