Readersforum's Blog

December 6, 2013

The Triumph of Trollope

Anthony Trollope    (1815 - 1882)

Anthony Trollope
(1815 – 1882)

By Steve King

On this day in 1882 Anthony Trollope died. The recent commemorative plaque placed in Poets’ Corner is inscribed with the last sentence from Trollope’s posthumously-published Autobiography: “Now I stretch out my hand, and from the further shore I bid adieu to all who have cared to read any among the many words that I have written.” The “many words” amount to forty-seven novels, all still in print and most selling well.

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May 10, 2013

Literary Pets: The Cats, Dogs, and Birds Famous Authors Loved

William S. Burroughs and his cat Ginger in the backyard of his home in Lawrence, Kansas

William S. Burroughs and his cat Ginger in the backyard of his home in Lawrence, Kansas

By Maria Popova

Twain and Bambino, Browning and Flush, Dickens and Grip, Hemingway and Uncle Willie, and more.

The wonderful recent Lost Cat memoir, one of my favorite books of the past few years, reminded me of how central, yet often unsuspected, a role pets have played in famous authors’ lives throughout literary history.

Cats have inspired Joyce’s children’s books, T. S. Eliot’s poetry, Gay Talese’s portrait of New York, and various literary satire, while dogs have fueled centuries of literature, philosophy and psychology, interactive maps, and some of the New Yorker’s finest literature and art. Gathered here are some of literary history’s most moving accounts of famous writers’ love for their pets, culled from a wealth of letters, journals, and biographies.

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March 26, 2013

Tracy Chevalier: A Page in the Life

The Last RunawayTracy Chevalier tells Helen Brown about new book, The Last Runaway, and her heroine’s passion for rescuing slaves – and sewing.

Tracy Chevalier keeps a cracked, childhood bowl in her cupboard. “Nobody can eat from it,” she says, “except me and my sister. She knows where it is. But I don’t let my husband and son touch it because I know it’s gonna break some day and I don’t want one of them to be the one to break it because they’d feel terrible.” Grey on the outside, yellow inside, the precious bowl inspired a bonnet given to the English, Quaker heroine of her seventh novel when the girl arrives in Ohio in the mid-1850s. “The grey,” says Chevalier, “is dutiful and solid and then the yellow is for stepping forward and doing the right thing.”

The right thing is helping slaves fleeing the antebellum South to find freedom in Canada. Although there was no slavery in Ohio, the Fugitive Slave Act punished any accomplice by exorbitant fines and confiscation of property. And as young Honor Bright discovers when she reaches the Quaker settlement where she’s promised to keep her sparkier sister company, members of this struggling pioneer community do not want to get involved. These weather-beaten farmers have larders to fill for the long, barren winters. And the violent local slave-hunter is always on the prowl. They would prefer Honor to keep her head bowed over her exquisite quilting, and ignore the sounds of people cowering in the woods.

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February 7, 2013

Murder in the Library – an A-Z of crime: review

murderBy Stacey Bartlett

The British Library’s new exhibition is an A-Z tour of crime fiction

If you find yourself in central London with a spare half-hour, the British Library’s new Murder in the Library exhibition is perfect for a bite-sized slice of culture.

Seasoned crime lovers are bound to find some new gems of information, and those – like me – who aren’t too Cluedo’d up on the genre will enjoy a whistle-stop tour of the kings and queens of crime, from the Edwardian parlour to the frozen forests of Norway.

The tour is easily digestible in its A-Z format (A is for Agatha Christie; F is for Forensic; H is for hard-boiled), and unearths some interesting facts: did you know that The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, generally considered the first full-length detective novel, first appeared in Charles Dickens’ literary magazine in 1868? Or that Caroline Graham’s sleepy county of Midsomer has a murder rate double that of Greater London?

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January 8, 2013

Collins, Crime & Sergeant Cuff

wilkie-collins-vanity-fair-1872-152x212On this day in 1824 the mystery novelist Wilkie Collins was born. Collins’s “gaslight thrillers” were as popular among Victorian readers as the books of his friend, Charles Dickens; two of them, The Woman in White (1860) and The Moonstone (1868) have not only stayed in print but grown in reputation. Crime historians say much is owed to characters such as Sergeant Cuff, and to his stylish back-of-my-hand.

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December 2, 2012

Dickens in America

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , , — Bookblurb @ 6:28 am
Charles Dickens   (1812 - 1870)

Charles Dickens (1812 – 1870)

On this day in 1867 Charles Dickens gave the first reading of his American tour. All but a few evenings over the five months were a sell-out, with some sleeping out overnight to beat a ticket line almost a half-mile long. Among the few who were not impressed were Emerson, Twain, and the little girl on the train who told Dickens she liked his books, though “I do skip some of the very dull parts, once in a while; not the short dull parts, but the long ones.”

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November 19, 2012

Would Jane Austen Write A Blog? (and other things writers probably shouldn’t do)

Filed under: Media — Tags: , , , , , , , , — Bookblurb @ 6:52 am

By Cath Murphy

Twitter, NaNoWriMo and blogging are activities writers now take for granted. But spin back two decades and blogging would have been easily confused with something people did behind the steamy windshields of cars. It’s hard to imagine how we spent our time in the dark days before WordPress; it’s even harder to work out whether the time and effort spent on some of the activities we take for granted is justified. In the spirit of ‘what would Jesus have done?’ I’m going to pierce this fog of confusion by using three authors as a prism through which the torch of truth may be concentrated.

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October 27, 2012

Death Turns The Page: Seven Notable Literary Kills

By Jon Korn

Most of the time proper literature deals with death, it is presented as a beautiful thing: a knight’s brave sacrifice, a lover’s romantic suicide, an old person’s fond farewell. But this spooktacular time of year pulled my focus towards another kind of literary death. You know, those dark and dastardly acts that run the bloodthirsty gamut from spine-tingling to gut-churning.

The murders.

In the spirit of the season, I’ve assembled what I believe to be seven of the most memorable and disturbing acts of homicide in literature. Think of it as a “Best Kills Supercut,” but, like, for the Western cannon.

Obviously, this list is incomplete – despite my best efforts I have yet to read all of the books, ever. I chose the moments that stuck out to me as especially gruesome, shocking, or haunting. So be warned, there is a lot of disturbing imagery to follow – because when highbrow types go dark, they go all the way. (And, necessarily, this article contains SPOILERS. If you don’t want to know what happens to Piggy at the end of Lord Of The Flies, STOP READING NOW.)

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September 16, 2012

9 Unfinished Novels by Great Writers

By Gabe Habash

Here’s something interesting: basically every writer has an unfinished novel.

An incomplete list:

Here’s something interesting: basically every writer has an unfinished novel.

An incomplete list: Truman Capote, Jack London, Kafka, Stendhal, Charles Dickens, J.R.R. Tolkien, Vladimir Nabokov, Stephen King, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Karl Marx.

And while all those authors have compelling reasons for why they never ended up publishing (most involved death), below we’ve picked 9 unfinished novels with especially great stories for why they never made it to print.

And while all those authors have compelling reasons for why they never ended up publishing (most involved death), below we’ve picked 9 unfinished novels with especially great stories for why they never made it to print.

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September 14, 2012

The Weird Side Of Literary Tourism: Five Bizarre Book-Inspired Experiences

Hobbit-Themed Flight and Hotel

By Kimberly Turner

Literary tourism isn’t new. The Wadsworth-Longfellow House, Mark Twain’s boyhood home, the Hemingway Museum, the Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden, Thoreau’s cabin, and hundreds of other bookish excursions let you visit the childhood home where your favorite author wrote, follow in the footsteps of a beloved novel’s protagonist, or explore a museum showcasing important periods in literary history. Trips like these let us connect with books on a deeper level and inspire us as writers. But what if you want to live the story? To take part in it? Here are five unusual destinations that let you do just that…

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