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Wallace Stevens: Corporate Executive and Pulitzer Prize-winning Poet

By Matt Reimann. Sep 30, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Pulitzer Prize

Pulitzer Prize winner, Wallace Stevens, published his first book of poetry when he was forty-four years old. He was awarded two National Book Awards for his poetry, both when he was a septuagenarian. Stevens won the 1955 Pulitzer Prize for Collected Poems, the same year of his death, at age 75. He lived one of those rare lives in which artistic and conventional success were intertwined. He graduated from Harvard Law School and after a career as a lawyer, became an executive at a Connecticut insurance company. He kept the position for the majority of his life, and readily defended his stable occupation. He once remarked to a newspaper reporter, "It gives a man character as a poet to have this daily contact with a job." 

     
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Laura Esquivel's Recipe for Success

By Leah Dobrinska. Sep 29, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

Laura Esquivel is a Mexican author and screenwriter recognized for her revolutionary contributions to Latin American literature. Influenced by writers Gabriel García Márquez and Isabel Allende, Esquivel is best known for her novel Like Water for Chocolate (1989). She was born on September 30, 1950 in Mexico City to parents, Julio Esquivel, a telegraph operator, and Josephina Esquivel, the third of four children. 

     
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The Unrealized Promise of Truman Capote, Author of In Cold Blood

By Claudia Adrien. Sep 27, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

Although Truman Capote is best known for his works Other Voices, Other Rooms (1948), Breakfast at Tiffany’s (1958), and In Cold Blood (1965), it was his short stories that first launched his writing career. In 1946, Capote won the prestigious O. Henry Award for his short story "Miriam." He has since become one of America's most recognized and eccentric 20th-century writers.

     
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Picaresque Authors from Cervantes to Bellow

By Kristin Masters. Sep 26, 2014. 8:46 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Literature, History

Likely born on September 29, 1547, Miguel de Cervantes worked as both a chamber assistant to a cardinal and as a tax collector before making his "literary break" with Don Quixote de la Mancha. The first part of the novel, published in 1605, established Cervantes as a formidable man of letters. Don Quixote is considered the first modern European novel and a stellar example of the picaresque novel. 

     
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T. S. Eliot: Nobel Laureate and Voice of the Lost Generation

By Ellie Koczela. Sep 25, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Poetry, Nobel Prize Winners

Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1888.  A Nobel laureate, The New York Times described his writing as giving "new meaning to English-language poetry,” Due to a congenital double hernia, T. S. Eliot spent much of his childhood reading rather than running around with other children. His family eventually moved to New England where he attended Harvard. At age 22, he moved to Paris; four years later, he married Vivienne Haigh-Wood.  He later claimed, “To her, the marriage brought no happiness. To me, it brought the state of mind out of which came The Waste Land."

     
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The PEN/Faulkner Award And Notable Winners

By Claudia Adrien. Sep 24, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books, American Literature

The PEN/Faulkner Award is one of the highest honors given to American citizens for fiction writing. The award was initially established by William Faulkner who used his 1949 Nobel Prize winnings to create the the William Faulkner Foundation. The primary goal of the foundation was to support emerging fiction writers. Although the foundation was later dissolved, the award came under the management of PEN, the international writers' association.

     
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The Enduring Controversy of the Warren Commission

By Kristin Masters. Sep 23, 2014. 9:03 AM.

Topics: American History, History

On September 24, 1964, the Warren Commission presented its long-awaited report. The exhaustive 888-page document outlined the Commission's investigation into the assassination of President John F Kennedy. Though the Commission's own members and even President Lyndon B Johnson professed their confidence in the Commission's findings, the report also fueled the fires of multiple conspiracy theories. 

     
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The Great Gatsby's Rocky Road to Popularity

By Matt Reimann. Sep 22, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, American Literature

I want to write something new, something extraordinary and beautiful and simple and intricately patterned. F. Scott Fitzgerald in a letter in 1922, as he began to write the novel which became The Great Gatsby

Few authors ever produce a work that outgrows itself. One so rich in mood and aesthetic distinction that it produces a cultural impression familiar even to those who have never peered between the book's covers. Books of this pedigree often bring to life the monstrous (Frankenstein, Dracula, Moby Dick), which makes the undeniable staying power of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s masterwork The Great Gatsby (1925) even more peculiar. There are no beasts in this Roaring Twenties novel. Rather, Fitzgerald entrances us with his exuberant setting and a tragic love story marked by postwar trauma and the trappings of the American Dream.

     
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A Thousand Faces of Jane Smiley

By Katie Behrens. Sep 21, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Pulitzer Prize, American Literature

Jane Smiley may not be a household name, but she has certainly earned her place among the esteemed writers of today. The Pulitzer Prize winner  brings clarity and truth to any topic she touches, from the struggles of farm women to the history of the novel.

     
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H. G. Wells, Father of Science Fiction

By Lauren Corba. Sep 20, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature, Science Fiction

Herbert George Wells was born on September 21, 1866 in Bromley, England. His father was a professional cricket player who also ran an unsuccessful porcelain and cricket supply business. Wells was a bright child who began reading at a young age—kindling a life-long passion for literature. In 1874, he began schooling at Thomas Morley’s Commercial Academy where he learned trades specific for retail occupations. His education was cut short in 1880, however, when his father’s leg injury put an end to his cricket career and left the family financially unstable.

     
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Case Studies in Collecting: Stephen King

By Kristin Masters. Sep 19, 2014. 11:27 AM.

Topics: Horror, Book Collecting

Prolific author Stephen King has remained a favorite writer for decades, and interest in his work shows no sign of waning. Though primarily recognized as a horror author, King slides among genres, appealing to lovers of science fiction, the American Western, and others. It should be no surprise, then, that King is a popular figure among collectors of modern first editions. Building a single-author collection around King's vast oeuvre offers multiple valuable lessons for book collectors of all specializations.

     
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Ten Facts You Should Know about Jane Goodall

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

Topics: Science

Jane Goodall is the world’s foremost expert in chimpanzees. Born April 3, 1934, she spent 45 years studying wild chimpanzees in Gombe Stream National Park, Tanzania. In addition to being honored as Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire, she was named a United Nations Messenger of Peace in 2002. She has received many awards including the French Legion of Honor, the Medal of Tanzania, the Kyoto Prize, and the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement. Yet, not only did Goodall make lasting contributions to science and environmentalism, she led a fascinating life. Learn ten interesting facts about Jane Goodall below:

     
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William Golding: From the Darkness of War to Man's Latent Evil

By Ellie Koczela. Sep 17, 2014. 10:44 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Nobel Prize Winners

Almost everyone who graduated from an American high school in the last few decades knows William Golding as the author of Lord of the Flies. However, his body of work - for which he was awarded the 1983 Nobel Prize for Literature - is much more extensive. He was a poet and a playwright, as well as the author of essays, short stories, and fifteen novels.

     
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Resources for Identifying First Editions

By Kristin Masters. Sep 16, 2014. 11:39 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Modern First Editions

Even if you're a novice collector of rare books, you've undoubtedly heard about the importance of identifying first editions. Generally first editions were printed in smaller numbers, making them more scarce. Furthermore, there's a certain allure to having the "very first" of something. Because first edition identification is critical to building a rare book collection, it's important to invest in at least a few useful resources. 

     
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Ken Kesey, Writer of the Counterculture and Beat Generation

By Lauren Corba. Sep 15, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Literature

American writer and counterculture leader, Kenneth Elton Kesey, was born on September 17, 1935 in La Junta, Colorado. His parents were dairy farmers and early in his life they moved to Springfield, Oregon. Kesey became a champion wrestler in college and nearly qualified for the Olympics until an injury brought his wrestling career to a premature end. Instead, Kesey turned to his other passion: writing.

     
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James Alan McPherson, First African American to win a Pulitzer Prize

By Claudia Adrien. Sep 14, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Pulitzer Prize, American Literature

In 1978, author James Alan McPherson became the first African American to win a Pulitzer Prize. He won the award for his work Elbow Room, a compilation of short stories in which McPherson explored the haunting realities of race relations between blacks and whites.

     
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A Brief History of the Mystery Novel

By Kristin Masters. Sep 13, 2014. 9:01 AM.

Topics: Literature, Mystery, Suspense & Crime

Take a guess: Who is the world's most translated author? One might assume that it's a literary titan, perhaps Shakespeare or Charles Dickens. But according to Index Translationium, UNESCO's database of book translations, the honor goes to none other than Agatha Christie, whose books have been translated into 103 languages.

     
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Make Way for Ducklings... and Robert McCloskey

Caldecott Award-winning illustrator, John Robert McCloskey, was born September 15, 1914 in Hamilton, Ohio.  At an early age he exhibited a love for music - learning the piano, drums, harmonica, and oboe. Later, he developed a unique interest in mechanics and electrical devises. However, all else was forgotten when he began to draw pictures for his school paper.

     
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Roald Dahl: Beloved Children's Author and Spy

By Katie Behrens. Sep 11, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Children's Books, James Bond

Roald Dahl is known throughout the world as a beloved author of children’s books. What is less well known is that he also spent several years as a British spy during World War II. 

When England declared war on Germany in 1939, Dahl enlisted in the Royal Air Force (RAF). On one of his first missions, he crash landed his plane in enemy territory and was rescued by a British patrol. Dahl soldiered on for a few more months, but when it became clear that his injuries were interfering with his ability to fly, he was sent back to England to recover.

     
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Who is Michael Ondaatje, Author of the English Patient?

By Anne Cullison. Sep 10, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books, Literature, Movie Tie-Ins

Born on September 12, 1943, Phillip Michael Ondaatje is best known for his novel, The English Patient. Winner of the 1992 Man Booker Prize and multiple Academy Awards, the book established Ondaatje as one of Canada’s most important contemporary writers and one of the country’s biggest cultural exports.

     
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Should O Henry Get a Presidential Pardon?

By Kristin Masters. Sep 9, 2014. 10:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, History

Plenty of famous authors have written masterpieces from behind bars: Miguel de Cervantes began Don Quixote while doing time for tax irregularities in Algiers, while Fyodor Dostoyevsky narrowly missed his date with a firing squad, allowing him to write Notes from the Underground.

     
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The Short, Controversial Life of D. H. Lawrence

By Anne Cullison. Sep 8, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

D. H. Lawrence, born September 11, 1885, is widely regarded as one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. He was a novelist, poet, and painter. Although he published a dozen novels and many short story collections, no single work brought him more fame or infamy than his book Lady Chatterley’s Lover.

     
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Leo Tolstoy: From Troubled Marriage to Contradictory Worldview

By Ellie Koczela. Sep 7, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Literature

Three facts:

  • Leo Tolstoy was born on September 9th, 1828 in the Tula region of Russia.
  • He was a prolific writer of political and social philosophy, plays, essays, novels, and short stories.
  • His novel War and Peace is widely considered one of the greatest books ever written.

Beyond these basic statements, however, there is almost nothing simple that can be said about the classic novelist. Tolstoy as a subject is almost as complicated as the novels he wrote.

     
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Download Free Guides about Rare Book Collecting

Over the last several weeks, the staff at Books Tell You Why have been working hard to create the guides and ebooks requested by you, our readers. When you ask for something, we listen. Through your feedback, we've learned that readers want more than blog posts about rare books and collecting. They want high-quality, in-depth ebooks that they can download and peruse at their leisure. We are happy to announce that we've produced several such guides and they are available to any of our readers free of charge. More are on the way. Don't see what you're looking for? Let us know. Many of our best ideas have come from readers like you.

     
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10 Surprising Facts About Jennifer Egan: Proust, Steve Jobs & Twitter

By Katie Behrens. Sep 5, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Pulitzer Prize, American Literature

Jennifer Egan is a journalist and writer whose fame exploded with the publication of her unconventional work of fiction, A Visit from the Goon Squad, in 2010. The book was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award and the prestigious Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 2011. A Visit from the Goon Squad evades easy description. Is it a novel? Is it a collection of short stories? Each chapter follows a different character, branching out through time and space, in a messy yet elegant story that keeps readers hooked. Therefore, it only seems fitting to profile Egan and her work in the fractured style of a good, old fashioned, numbered list.

     
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Raymond Benson, the First American writer of James Bond

By Claudia Adrien. Sep 4, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: James Bond, Mystery, Suspense & Crime

Strong film screenplays provided the foundation for Sean Connery, Daniel Craig, and the five other actors to bring James Bond - or 007 - to life. These movies have captured the imaginations of movie-goers for decades. Of course, many of the screenplays derived from original James Bond books and short stories. Ian Fleming was the first James Bond author, the originator of the series. However, there have been seven other authorized James Bond authors; the first American writer was Raymond Benson.

     
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The Adventurous Life of Arthur Koestler

By Matt Reimann. Sep 3, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature

It was Spain, during the height of the Spanish Civil War, and Arthur Koestler - a Communist masquerading as a Fascist sympathizer - was in danger. He was writing about the conflict for a British newspaper, working in the city of Malaga. The Republican army had fled along with the other journalists in the area. It is unknown why Koestler stayed, but the decision was not anomalous in a life punctuated by audacity and adventure.

     
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Famous Figures in the History of Bookbinding, Part Two

By Kristin Masters. Sep 2, 2014. 8:58 AM.

Topics: Fine Press

The way we present and preserve the written word has changed considerably over the millennia. When Johann Gutenberg introduced movable type, our concept of the book changed forever. Since then, famous figures like William Caxton, Jean Grolier, and Samuel Mearne introduced the concept of the book as an object of art. In more recent centuries, Roger Payne and William Morris paved the way for the modern private press movement. 

     
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Richard Wright and His "Native Son"

By Anne Cullison. Sep 1, 2014. 9:00 AM.

Topics: American Literature, Literature

Great American writer, Richard Wright, was best known for his novels Black Boy and Native Son. Wright was born on September 4, 1908 in Natchez, Mississippi. He was the grandson of slaves, and the son of a sharecropper. His father left the family when Wright was only five years old, leaving him in the sole care of his mother.

     
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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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