November 13 in Literary History: Robert Louis Stevenson Born

The most significant events in the history of books on the 13th of November

1850: Robert Louis Stevenson is born. However, as we’ve revealed elsewhere he legally renounced all rights to the 13th of November as his birthday, in a characteristic act of kindness (for more of which, see below). Stevenson is probably best known for the Gothic horror classic Jekyll and Hyde and the adventure story Treasure Island, though he also wrote verse for children (A Child’s Garden of Verses), ghost stories (‘Markheim’, ‘The Body Snatcher’), and travel writing (Travels with a Donkey).

Read more

November 12 in Literary History: Elizabeth Gaskell Dies

The most significant events in the history of books on the 12th of November

1615: Richard Baxter is born. This English Puritan theologian and poet was a noted hymn-writer – he wrote the words for the hymn ‘Ye Holy Angels Bright’ among others, and is mentioned by George Eliot in The Mill on the Floss.

1865: Elizabeth Gaskell dies. As well as her classic realist novel about nineteenth-century factory life, North and South (which features in our pick of the best Victorian novels), Gaskell also wrote a short story called ‘The Half-Brothers’ (1859) which features a collie dog named Lassie.

Read more

Five Fascinating Facts about William Burroughs

Interesting William Burroughs facts: concerning his life, his work, and his links with other writers

1. Before he became a famous novelist, William S. Burroughs worked in pest-control as an exterminator. Many writers started out in somewhat surprising jobs. Douglas Adams was a bodyguard to a Middle Eastern family of oil magnates; Tarzan creator (and William Burroughs’ namesake) Edgar Rice Burroughs was a pencil sharpener salesman. But William Burroughs, who was born in 1914, started out working as an exterminator in Chicago. (Fittingly, Burroughs would later title one of his short-story collections Exterminator!) Burroughs would quit this job and move to New York, where he would meet Allen Ginsberg an Jack Kerouac, and the Beat Generation would take over the world.

Read more

November 11 in Literary History: The Two Towers is Published

The most significant events in the history of books on the 11th of November

1821: Fyodor Dostoevsky is born. In 1849, he was sentenced to death by firing squad. At the very last minute the sentence was commuted to four years’ hard labour. At the time he was still an aspiring novelist, having written several minor works such as a novella titled The Double (1846). He would go on to write such classic novels as Crime and Punishment and The Brothers Karamazov.

Read more

7 Famous Literary Bars and Their Links to Famous Authors

The pubs and bars where famous authors hung out, got drunk, and discussed their writing

We were recently sent this fantastic infographic, ‘7 Famous Literary Bars You Should Visit’, courtesy of Assignment Masters, and thought it was well worth sharing. It vividly and beautifully details some of the favourite watering holes of famous writers including Dylan Thomas, Ernest Hemingway, C. S. Lewis, J. R. R. Tolkien, James Joyce, and Ezra Pound, among many other literary greats. It’s a great insight into the links and associations between various writers – who hung out with whom, and where. Thanks to Linda Craig of Assignment Masters (who created the infographic) for bringing it to our attention. Have you visited any of these pubs and bars? We’re pleased to say here at Interesting Literature that we’ve chucked about a few ales in the Eagle and Child pub in Oxford, though the others remain on our ‘to visit’ list.

Read more