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22 Interesting Facts about Writing

Fun facts from the world of writing

Since we launched this blog in 2012, we’ve uncovered all sorts of curious facts about the written word. We’ve also encountered some interesting trivia about the process of writing, and about how writers write. We hope you enjoy them.

Elizabethan scribe Peter Bales reportedly produced a complete, handwritten copy of the Bible so small it could fit inside a walnut shell.

Friedrich von Schiller kept rotten apples in his desk, claiming he needed the scent of their decay to help him write.

Edith Sitwell reportedly liked to lie in an open coffin before she began her day’s writing. Read the rest of this entry

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The Best Poetry Anthologies Every Poetry Fan Should Own

Five of the best collections of English poetry

What are the best English poetry anthologies? And how would one define ‘best’? The answer, of course, is that it’s always going to be subjective to a point. But it’s worth having a go at picking the greatest anthologies from which the poetry fan can choose. The poetry anthology is a great way not only of revisiting old favourites, but of discovering new poets. In this post, we’ve turned our attention to a kind of book that provides a highly valuable service for the poetry-lover. Many of these books can be purchased for the equivalent of the cost of lunch (depending on where you lunch, of course), or, at most, set back the book-buyer no more than a night out in the local pub would. And a volume of poetry can provide a lifetime of pleasure!

The Oxford Book of English Verse. Edited by Christopher Ricks, this anthology is, in our opinion, simply the best one out there. It’s beautifully produced on good-quality paper, presented in clear type, and the selections made by Ricks showcase, not necessarily the most famous poems by a particular poet, but the most moving, thought-provoking, and intriguing. Thus The Oxford Book of English Verse does what a good poetry anthology should do: Read the rest of this entry

Five Fascinating Facts about Jonathan Swift

The life of Jonathan Swift told through five pieces of interesting trivia

1. Jonathan Swift invented the girls’ name Vanessa. The name Vanessa originated as Swift’s pet name for his friend and lover Esther Vanhomrigh (c. 1688-1723), who was over 20 years his junior. Swift wrote a poem, Cadenus and Vanessa (1713), about Esther/Vanessa.

2. He was a cousin of John Dryden. Dryden reportedly remarked to his distant cousin, ‘Cousin Swift, you will never be a poet.’ Sure enough, it would be in prose – with such works as ‘A Modest Proposal’, A Tale of a Tub, and Gulliver’s Travels – that Swift would create his enduring legacy. Read the rest of this entry