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I found three birthdays today, I’m sure there are more but when I did the research on there was a gem.
We all know and many of us love Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of Sherlock Holmes. I’m sure many of you have read the books and have enjoyed Benedict Cumberbatch as Holmes and are enjoying Lucy Liu as Dr Watson in Elementary. Today Conan Doyle would be 154.
Peter Matthiessen is well known as the author of The Snow Lepoard, his two month search in the Dolpo region on the Tibetan Plateau in the Himalayas. Today he is 86, a good age. Happy birthday!
Finally, we have Wallace West, if he was still alive would be 113 today. West wrote many short stories for the pulp fiction magazines starting with Weird Tales in 1927 and appearing in magazines until 1960. Besides being a lawyer he was also a pollution control expert. His exciting claim to fame is writing two Betty Boop books: Betty Boop in Snow-White Assisted by Bimbo and Ko Ko; and Betty Boop in Miss Gulliver’s Travels. These two books are currently hard to find and worth more than I’m prepared to pay.
The other day I was so impressed with the gems I found I thought I’d go hunting again. This is the whole list of authors who are celebrating their birthday today, or maybe people are celebrating for them as some of them are almost certainly dead, Novalis would be 240 if he were still alive today!
Maury Allen – never heard of him before but he turns out to have been a sports journalist so it’s not surprising as I’m not really into sport.
Jamal Abro – was a Sindhi writer. I think I need to do more research on Sindhi. It’s a tribe in Pakistan.
A. M. Rosenthal – spent many years working for the New York Times moving on to the New York Daily News in 1999.
Dr. Spock – the man who changed the way parents parented with the publication of his book about childcare, the tagline being ”you know more than you think you do.”
E. E. Smith – well known for his space opera series of science fiction novels, Skylark and Lensman. He was also a food engineer and developed standards for butter and oysters.
Gottfried Benn – was a German poet which explains why I’d never heard of him. His early work was rather dark and talked about death, decay and cancer.
Hedda Hopper went head-to-head with Louella Parsons, separately or together they could make or break a movie stars reputation.
Jurgis Baltrušaitis was a Lithuanian poet and translator.
Clyde Fitch – wrote over 60 plays with 36 of being them being original. He was the first American to publish his plays and wrote about Beau Brummel in 1890.
Theodor Herzl – born in Hungary, Herzl was a visionary. He grew up in a mostly secular society with his Bar Mitzvah being a Confirmation but he changed his mind as he matured eventually campaigning for a Jewish State and writing Der Judenstaat (The Jewish State)
Jerome K. Jerome was an English writer and humorist, you can read more about his most famous book Three Men in a Boat here.
Novalis – his real name was Georg Philipp Friedrich Freiherr von Hardenberg, he was a poet, an author and philosopher of early German Romanticism.
William Inge was an American playwright and novelist whose works typically feature solitaryprotagonists encumbered with strained sexual relations
Yesterday was Sir Terry Pratchett’s birthday. This year he is 65 and we celebrate every year he is still alive and compos. I thought it would be appropriate to take a few minutes to dwell on what Pterry means to me.
Pratchett has written about 40 books about Discworld, some with assistance and many without. They are all really good books but some are better than others. He is so good at writing about people that it doesn’t matter whether they are written as Dwarves, Trolls, Werewolves or Humans it is possible to recognise them as people I know.
He has written about issues such as slavery and genocide, couching them within the framework of a universe we know and love to make them more palatable and easier to understand.
People think so much of his books and want to get together to talk about his books and speculate on what he’ll do next – I’d say that’s called a convention. They are SO much fun. Imagine finding yourself in a hotel room at a stupid hour of 8am on a Saturday morning finding like-minded people. They’re dressed in weird clothes but that doesn’t matter as so are you. You could all be dressed as witches, wizards, strumpets, trolls, the Librarian or even Moist von Lipwig.
Craft type stuff
I’ve never considered myself to have any great skills with crafty stuff but I’ve found myself making stuff anyway. For the first Nullus Anxietas I joined in the craft making and we made dragons, driving down to Geelong for the day to do papier mache and talk. I, again, found myself doing crafty type stuff for the second Nullus Anxietas but we were able to use a room in a nearby congregation and leave everything sitting drying until the next time we were able to get together. I don’t have photos of these things but for NAIV I still have most of my props for my costume and this is a photo.
There’s all sorts of things there: a photo book so I can sell things to the unwary; 1,000 year old eggs, the one in the top right hand corner is a troll egg; sausages inna bun and; meat pies. I only did two types of sausages inna bun – ratwurst and frank-n-furters. The meat pies have undisclosed meat and have tomato sauce on top in the shape of Australia. Yes, I had fun!
I can’t count the number of friends I’ve made thanks to Pratchett. It all started back in 2005 when I saw a post on a newsgroup mentioning the first Australian convention and that they still needed more committee members. I thought that looked like fun and I was trying to push myself out of my comfort zone so I sent an email and a few months later I went to a meeting where I didn’t know a soul, let alone a person. Somehow I managed to stay and have made so many friends around Australia. Whenever I go to a convention I get cuddles as there’s always someone I know. I trawl Facebook and see Discworld friends at every turn. There’s always a friendly face and conversation somewhere. Twitter is similar, as is Google+.
Sir Terry Pratchett
You really don’t know what you started when I found your books. You have expanded my brain, my knowledge, my skills and my friendship base and I’ve only met you very briefly a couple of times. For all of the above I can only thank you and wish you a very happy birthday…for yesterday.
Today is Lord Baden-Powell’s 156th birthday and I’m sure many Guides and Scouts around the world are celebrating it with verve. After very successfully defending Mafeking during the Boer war he returned to England to find his book on scouting techniques was doing really well and being used as a handbook; he rewrote it for a younger audience. A few years later he started the Scouting movement which has been a successful organisation ever since, his much younger wife started the Guiding movement which has also been very successful.
Two things I found interesting when I researched Baden-Powell is that the Scouting movement is based on honesty, being prepared and a number of other things, Baden-Powell spent time during his school years avoiding teachers in the woods near his school learning some of the techniques he would later pass on to Scouts; tracking skills and creating a fire with little smoke. Yes, honesty and obeying authority.
The other thing I found incredibly interesting is the idea that he was gay. Whether he was or not is totally irrelevant and I find it distasteful that people should rake up the past and label anyone in this way so many years after their death. Some of their evidence is also misleading, apparently he developed severe headaches from the moment he was married until he moved out of the marital bed and into a makeshift bed on the balcony. My first thought was he was allergic to one or more of the perfumes/skin products his wife used and that getting close to her in bed was making him sick. I know I’ve had severe migraines to perfumes and would go out of my way to avoid going anywhere near any of those shops in Chadstone Shopping Centre, I once wrote a letter of complaint to the Shopping Centre as the smell was permeating from one floor to the other and I found the long way round was getting challenging to find. More of their evidence is also just silly and I refuse to address it here today.
There are a few famous birthdays surrounding today’s date. Everyone is celebrating Charles Dickens’ birthday and many are also celebrating Laura Ingalls Wilder, but there are also Thomas More and John Grisham all celebrating their birthday yesterday on the 7th February. Today we have Jules Verne, Neal Cassady and Robert Burton. Tomorrow is Amy Lowell, Natsume Soseki, Frances Moore Lappé and Eliot Wald. And on the 10th we have illuminaries such as Bertolt Brecht, Joseph Kessel, Boris Pasternak and Charles Lamb.
Dickens we all know and love, he’s obviously a good writer. I’m still gobsmacked at how he had to write one chapter for publishing before he could write the next, he was really thinking on his feet and never got a chance to go back and edit.
Ingalls Wilder wrote some really fabulous stories about growing up in the wild west, her works were heavily edited by her daughter, Rose Ingalls Wilder. There’s some talk about the editing and how heavy handed she was with it. I loved the TV series despite the many things they changed.
Verne is the father of science fiction with his books 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, Journey to the Center of the Earth and Around the World in Eighty Days. All of these have been made into movies, in some cases many times.
Natsume is one of Japan’s foremost authors and has had a profound affect on most Japanese authors. He died in 1916 at the fairly young age of 49.
I could write about all of these people today but instead I’m going to leave it for now. I’ll do some research on each of them and write individually at some later date.
It is with great sadness today I mention the deaths of two wonderful people.
Miss Pat I remember with great fondness from my childhood, she was the lovely lady who kept Mr Squiggle grounded and stopped him flying off when he got excited. She was also a talented movie producer and helped bring such gems as The Picnic at Hanging Rock, Monkey Grip and Gallipoli to our screens. She died on Australia Day from liver cancer but lived a good life until the age of 83. She fully deserved the accolades and honours she’s received throughout the years.
Jan Ormerod was a wonderfully talented artist. While she helped many children’s authors by illustrating their books, she also published her own, some of which had no words but only her lovely illustrations telling the story so gently. In 2004 she joined luminaries such as Patricia Wrightson and Colin Thiele in receiving an IBBY Honour.
Both of these ladies will be greatly missed. My condolences go to their families.
One of my favourite authors is Sir Compton Mackenzie and today is his birthday – Happy Birthday! Ignore the fact that he died in 1972, today in 1883 is the day he was born and I’m so glad he was. He is the author of that fabulous book Whiskey Galore! and also Monarch of the Glen. Someone let Squid Ink onto my bookshelves some time back and he must have thought Mackenzie is a good author too, here you go!
While Mackenzie was born in England he seems to have written a lot of books about other cultures. Whiskey Galore! is set in the Hebrides and is a wonderful madcap romp including 144 crates of whiskey in WWII, I heartily recommend it, I don’t like the movie as much but it does have a great cast of actors.
Monarch of the Glen is set in fictional Glenbogle, somewhere in the Scottish highlands. It was made into a TV series which while it looks a little light on the surface actually deals with a lot of really harsh issues. I loved the series but having read a little about it elsewhere on the web I now need to read the book and see how far they deviated from the book, or rather books as the page refers to this book as being the first in the series.
If I want to read all of his works I have a lot to go through as he wrote 90 novels. Mackenzie married three times, the first marriage lasted 55 years while the third was to his deceased wife’s sister.
One of my round up posts. I noticed last night I’ve missed a few key dates this month so I’m celebrating/commemorating them all at once. This isn’t every single one just the ones I have in my list. If I’ve missed you and you’re upset please feel free to vent in the comments and I’ll make amends.
Arthur C Clarke, author of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Rendevous with Rama, Earthlight and so many more was born on 16 December 1917 and died at the good age of 90 on the 19 March 2008. I’ve just found out he was gay, something I never knew nor cared about, I read his books because of his writing and his orientation means nothing.
Fritz Lang (Friedrich Christian Anton “Fritz” Lang) born on the 5 December 1890 and died on the 2 August 1976 at the reasonable age of 85. Not specifically book related but he’s the director of the iconic movie Metropolis. Filmed in 1925 it’s one of those movies every science fiction fan really needs to see.
On 25 December we’ll be commemorating the 74th year of the passing of Dr. Karel Čapek (January 9, 1890 – December 25, 1938). He was the person who first coined the term robot. Wrote R.U.R. (Rossum’s Universal Robots premiered 1921). One day I’ll find this book and read it so I can see how good it was. Isaac Asimov commandeered the word and used it extensively so for many years I thought he’d coined the word.
Tamora Pierce helps fill the very important genre of fantasy for young adults. She was born on the 13 December in 1954, she’s fairly young. I don’t think I’ve actually read any of her books but I’ve heard so many good things about her she’s definitely on my reading list.
Last but not least is Rosemary Sutcliff CBE (14 December 1920 – 23 July 1992). Every time I pick up one of her books I’m instantly transported back to my childhood. I don’t have to open them as the cover image does the work, that’s not to say I didn’t read them then as I did but I just find the cover image evocative for me. When i find some of her books I’ll take photos and show you what I mean.
No Mondayitis today, just a short vale to a great author.
Margaret Mahy was a much loved New Zealand author, she died yesterday in Christchurch after a short illness at the age of 76. While I don’t recall reading any of her books I have had them in my hands and know her name quite well. They have a sculpture of her in the Twelve Local Heroes outside the Arts Centre in Christchurch. We were there last year during our visit to NZ and had I known one of them was her I would have tried harder to take a photo. The building and grounds were roped off due to damage from the earthquake, thank goodness the scupltures were all in good condition.
Vale: Margaret Mahy, you will be much missed.
Eric Carle is the author and illustrator of The Very Hungry Caterpillar, his books are much loved throughout the world by children and adults alike. Carle’s illustrations are ones that can inspire children in their art while the words are simple enough for any age. His books are very readable and can be used as readers as there’s repetition to help a child learn to read.
He was brought up in Germany during WWII and had seen many horrors but none of that comes through into his books, they give us pleasure and lighthearted images. It’s wonderful to see books like this springing from such an emotionally charged childhood.
Happy Birthday to Eric Carle for the 25th June.