How Elizabeth Gaskell Saved Charlotte Brontë's Reputation

By Andrea Koczela. Nov 22, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

"I desired more... Who blames me? Many call me discontented. I couldn't help it, the restlessness is in my nature; it agitated me to pain sometimes.”
- Charlotte Brontë, Jane Eyre

Bearing more than a few parallels to her heroine, Jane Eyre, Charlotte Brontë was born poor, obscure, and plain. Despite leading a life filled with hardship and tragedy, Brontë became a successful novelist in her thirties. Yet while she received popular acclaim, Brontë also faced scathing reviews and harsh personal criticism. 

Brontë's 1847 novel, Jane Eyre, earned the ire of critics for its frank depiction of passion in a woman - a governess, no less. Brontë was maligned as "unwomanly" and "unchristian." Poet Matthew Arnold wrote, "Miss Brontë has written a hideous, undelightful, convulsed, constricted novel... one of the most utterly disagreeable books I've ever read." The Quarterly Review asserted that Jane Eyre revealed "tone of mind and thought which has overthrown authority and violated every code human and divine." The novel had its share of defenders as well, not the least of which was fellow novelist Elizabeth Gaskell. 

     
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Mark Twain, Prankster Journalist

By Kristin Masters. Nov 21, 2014. 9:56 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, American Literature, Mark Twain

 

"Get the facts first. Then you can distort them as much as you like." 
-Dan DeQuille, reporter, Territorial Enterprise, ca 1862

 

Before he would pen Huckleberry Finn or Tom Sawyer or even adopt the pseudonym "Mark Twain," Samuel Clemens tried his hand at mining. He had little luck, however, and soon turned to journalism to make a living. Clemens got hired as a reporter for the Territorial Enterprise, the largest newspaper in Virginia City, Nevada. Though Clemens did some honest reporting, he also earned a reputation for publishing pranks and hoaxes--often under his new pen name. 

     
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The Kennedy Assassination: Conspiracy Theories & the Warren Commission

By Anne Cullison. Nov 20, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American History, US Presidents

On November 22nd, 1963, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated in Dealey Plaza in Houston, Texas. This tragedy is forever seared into the country's consciousness. But what really happened?

In anticipation of the 1964 election, President Kennedy began visiting swing states to woo supporters for his reelection campaign. On November 21, he and Mrs. Kennedy commenced a two day, five city tour of Texas. Texas was an important state for Kennedy, and as such he planned a trip to Dallas, even though US Ambassador Adlai Stevenson had been attacked there by political extremists only a month before.

     
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Isaac Bashevis Singer, Tireless Author and Indefatigable Self-Promoter

By Kristin Masters. Nov 19, 2014. 9:00 AM.

One of the best known authors of the twentieth century, Isaac Bashevis Singer won literary accolades all over the world, including that most illustrious of awards, the Nobel Prize in Literature. The 1978 Nobel laureate wrote primarily in Yiddish, yet the majority of his published works are in English--a fact that makes Singer all the more fascinating to both scholars and collectors. 

     
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Songs for the Philologists: The Ultimate Tolkien Collectible

By Andrea Koczela. Nov 18, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Book Collecting, J. R. R. Tolkien

J. R. R. Tolkien is known as the “father of high fantasy” yet the resonance of his work cannot be limited to one genre. Tolkien’s novels, particularly The Hobbit (1937) and The Lord of the Rings (1954-1955), were much more than tales of elves and dragons. Tolkien believed that all myths contain “fundamental truths” that speak deeply to the human condition. His novels are imbued with such primordial themes and they have forever changed the face of literature.

Tolkien’s followers are notoriously zealous, and the same is true for those who collect his work. Tolkien’s writing is sought by book collectors both for the passion it inspires and for its increasing relevance. Of all his publications, one is exceptionally rare - indeed, only an estimated fourteen copies remain in existence. Eight reside in libraries across the world, and the other six are owned privately. With its exceptional scarcity, the pamphlet Songs for the Philologists is the pinnacle of a Tolkien collection.  

     
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How Apartheid Shaped Nobel Laureate, Nadine Gordimer

By Leah Dobrinska. Nov 17, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Nobel Prize Winners

Nadine Gordimer, the great Nobel Laureate who passed away in July 2014, is a fascinating study. A close analysis of her writing - but even more specifically, the way in which her writing coalesced with the politics of South Africa - provides an interesting commentary on how authors both influence and are influenced by their culture.

It is no secret that Gordimer spent much of her life fighting for the anti-apartheid cause. In fact, in a statement after her death, Gordimer's family noted that one of her proudest moments - along with winning the Nobel Prize - was playing a key role in the release of 22 African National Congress members accused of treason. 

     
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10 Interesting Facts about Margaret Atwood

By Katie Behrens. Nov 16, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books, Literature

Margaret Atwood is one fascinating lady. Her writing career stretches over half a century and ranges from poetry, short stories, fiction, and non-fiction. Her Canadian nationality is at the forefront of her identity. And she really, really loves birds. Atwood has a slew of awards and honors to her name, including the Man Booker Prize, and there’s no question why. The characters and settings that she creates are complex, interesting, and reflective of reality with a twist of imagination. Whether you’re new to Atwood or you have multiple copies of The Handmaid’s Tale at home, here are some tidbits about the indefatigable Atwood.

     
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Eight Authors Who Were Famous Before Thirty

By Kristin Masters. Nov 15, 2014. 9:00 AM.

What were you doing when you were nineteen years old? Most of us were probably waffling among college majors or learning the ropes at the family business. But before his twentieth birthday, Christopher Paolini was already a New York Times bestselling author. 

     
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Lunar Landings: Adventures of Alan Bean and Pete Conrad on Apollo 12

By Katie Behrens. Nov 14, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Space Travel, Science

While it was the Apollo 11 mission with Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin that first landed on the moon, Apollo 12 marked several important advances in space travel and technology. Apollo 12 was a three-man mission. Its goals were to land on the moon, collect scientific samples and readings, and retrieve parts of the disabled Surveyor III spacecraft.

Its launch on November 14, 1969 could easily have ended in disaster. In the midst of a rainstorm, lightning discharge caused some protective circuits to take the fuel cells offline. Almost every warning light signaled danger.

     
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Robert Louis Stevenson, A Life in Quotes

By Claudia Adrien. Nov 13, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

"Everyone who got where he is had to begin where he was."-- Robert Louis Balfour Stevenson

Robert Louis Stevenson was supposed to follow in his father's engineering footsteps. Instead, he became a literary giant whose travels and adventures inspired his classic works Treasure Island, Kidnapped, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Stevenson died in Samoa in 1894, far from his native Edinburgh. His dynamic life provided him with a wisdom that came across in his musings on the human experience. In appreciation for this legendary author, we have compiled some of his best quotations on life, travel, and self-discovery.

     
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About this blog

How can I identify a first edition? Where do I learn about caring for books? How should I start collecting? Hear from librarians about amazing collections, learn about historic bindings or printing techniques, get to know other collectors. Whether you are just starting or looking for expert advice, chances are, you'll find something of interest on blogis librorum.

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