The most significant events in the history of books on the 25th of November
1562: Lope de Vega is born. A towering figure of Spanish Renaissance literature, he was a hugely prolific poet and playwright. Cervantes, author of Don Quixote, called Vega, his contemporary, a ‘monster of nature’, which sounds much like the seventeenth-century view of William Shakespeare as a writer endowed with natural gifts rather than one whose craft had been studiously learned. But Vega outdid even Shakespeare for his sheer volume of work. Shakespeare left behind 154 sonnets; Vega wrote over 3,000. Shakespeare wrote, or collaborated on, around forty plays. But around 1,800 plays have been attributed to Lope de Vega (of which 426 survive).
1749: Isaac Watts dies. This ‘Father of English Hymnody’ penned over 700 hymns, among them ‘Joy to the World’ and ‘O God, Our Help in Ages Past’.
1926: Poul Anderson is born. A prolific author of science fiction and fantasy novels, Anderson’s most famous books include the Norse-influenced fantasy novel The Broken Sword, published in 1954 around the same time as J. R. R. Tolkien‘s The Lord of the Rings.
1951: Charlaine Harris is born. Harris is an American novelist who has written popular mystery novels, as well as horror novels and urban fantasy.
1952: Agatha Christie’s murder-mystery play The Mousetrap opens at the Ambassadors Theatre, London, having had its world premiere at the Theatre Royal, Nottingham on 6 October 1952. Now, over sixty years later, it is still running – making it the longest-running theatrical production in history. We have more fascinating facts about Agatha Christie here.
1970: Yukio Mishima commits ritualistic seppuku (ritual suicide by cutting the stomach) after an unsuccessful coup d’état. Mishima is regarded as one of the most significant Japanese authors of the twentieth century, and was nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature on no fewer than three occasions (he never won the award). He was a prolific author, writing 34 novels, two dozen volumes of short stories, and around 50 plays, as well as over thirty non-fiction works.
Image: Agatha Christie in 1925, author unknown; via Wikimedia Commons (public domain).