October 9 in Literature: The Phantom of the Opera Premieres

The most significant events in the history of books on the 9th of October

1906: Léopold Sédar Senghor is born. A Senegalese poet, he would become the first president of that country in 1960.

1938: John Sutherland is born. A retired Professor of English Literature, he has published extensively on Victorian fiction in particular, and is the author of Lives of the Novelists: A History of Fiction in 294 Lives, a monumental and hugely entertaining book we’d heartily recommend. He is also the author of The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction, an invaluable and informative resource which every fan of Victorian literature cannot afford to be without. It contains information about famous and forgotten Victorian novelists and the books they wrote – everyone from Marie Corelli to Mary Elizabeth Braddon, Charles Dickens to Charles Lever.

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45 Quotes about Poetry for National Poetry Day

Witty and inspiring quotations about poetry in honour of National Poetry Day

As it’s National Poetry Day here in the UK (held in early October every year, usually on the first or second Thursday in the month), we’ve gathered together some of our favourite quotations (or quotes, depending on your preference) about poetry and poets, from the poetry of the everyday to the big philosophical questions which poetry presents us with. Where we’ve included a link on the author’s name, you’ll find more information about them – interesting facts, more quotations, or biographical material. We hope you enjoy the quotations.

There is no money in poetry, but then there is no poetry in money, either. – Robert Graves

Poetry is the rhythmical creation of beauty in words. – Edgar Allan Poe

There is no Frigate like a Book / To take us Lands away, / Nor any Coursers like a Page / Of prancing Poetry. – Emily Dickinson

Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood. – T. S. Eliot

If you tell a novelist, ‘Life’s not like that’, he has to do something about it. The poet simply replies, ‘No, but I am.’ – Philip Larkin

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October 8 in Literature: Henry Fielding Dies

The most significant events in the history of books on the 8th of October

1754: Henry Fielding dies. He had begun his career as a stage satirist poking fun at Robert Walpole – the first de facto Prime Minister of Britain – in the early 1730s, until the Licensing Act and theatre censorship put paid to that. Fielding turned instead to the novel, an emerging new literary form at the time, producing his masterpiece, the vast novel Tom Jones, in 1749. He also found time to set up the Bow Street Runners, the forerunners (as it were) to the Metropolitan Police Force in London.

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Five Fascinating Facts about Of Mice and Men

A short introduction to the classic novel Of Mice and Men, in the form of five interesting facts

1. John Steinbeck’s original title for his classic novella, Of Mice and Men, was ‘Something That Happened’. This deliberately nondescript title was intended to remove any sense of individual blame for the events that occur in the novella (something quite different from the ironic intention behind the similarly titled play Stuff HappensDavid Hare’s recent play about the Iraq War). Of Mice and Men, as the novel came to be known, focuses on two migrant workers, George (a smart, quick-thinking man) and his friend Lennie (a simpler man, who is mentally disabled but physically big and strong – ironically, his surname is ‘Small’), who work on various farms during the Great Depression in America in the 1930s (Steinbeck was drawing on his own experiences as a ‘bindlestiff’, as he also would for his next novel, The Grapes of Wrath). Joseph Heller, author of Catch 22, was possibly alluding to Steinbeck’s working title when he called one of his own later novels Something Happened.

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October 7 in Literature: Edgar Allan Poe Dies

The most significant events in the history of books on the 7th of October

1576: John Marston, poet and playwright, is baptised. He wrote a number of plays for the London stage, the most famous of which is The Malcontent (1604), although perhaps he is more famous these days as the namesake of a character in the video game Red Dead Redemption. So it goes.

1577: Poet George Gascoigne dies. He was the first poet to praise Queen Elizabeth I in writing, at least a decade before Edmund Spenser did so in his epic The Faerie Queene. Gascoigne would also write the first sustained work of prose comedy written in English – a work that would later be used by William Shakespeare as the source material for his The Taming of the Shrew.

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