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Neely Simpson
Lifelong bookworm. Lover of ghost stories and folklore who writes spooky fiction in her spare time. Is sometimes found rambling around old graveyards.

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Five Interesting Facts About Elizabeth Gaskell

By Neely Simpson. Sep 29, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, Biographies

Elizabeth Gaskell was a woman ahead of her time. Her writing won the admiration of people like Charles Dickens, Charlotte Brontë, Charles Eliot Norton, and Harriet Beecher Stowe, among others. Like modern professionals, Gaskell and her husband often lived separate lives in order to accommodate their own vocations. However, both were supportive and involved in the other's career. At the time of her death in 1865, the literary magazine The Athenaeum described her as, "if not the most popular, with small question, the most powerful and finished novelist of an epoch singularly rich in female novelists." Here are five interesting facts about this Victorian career woman.

     
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Ann Beattie: The Voice of a Generation

By Neely Simpson. Sep 8, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature

Although Ann Beattie had a happy childhood, she believed she was stupid. For this reason, she hated school, and even graduated from high school at the bottom of her class. She admits the only reason she took a creative-writing class as a teenager was so she could skip gym. She never imagined she would become a writer. Boy, was she wrong.

     
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Almost Undiscovered: An Alison Lurie Primer

By Neely Simpson. Sep 3, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature

Alison Lurie has written on a wide range of topics; everything from architecture, to children's literature, to fashion. She is best known for her socially satirical novels, which are often compared to those of Jane Austen. Her novel Foreign Affairs, won the 1985 Pulitzer Prize for fiction. Despite her acclaim as a writer of fiction she says, "I don't know that many stories that I want to tell. So in between the stories I just talk." She said in a 2014 interview with National Geographic, "Throughout my whole adult life I've written fiction and nonfiction. And when I can't think of a good idea for a novel, I'll write about something else that I'm interested in. And I've got lots of interests."

     
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Ira Levin: Coupling the Creepy with the Conventional

By Neely Simpson. Aug 27, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Horror

“Mr. Levin’s suspense is beautifully intertwined with everyday incidents; the delicate line between belief and disbelief is faultlessly drawn.”
-Thomas J. Fleming, on Rosemary's Baby in The New York Times Book Review

Ira Levin, master of all things creepy, knew as early as the age of 15 he wanted to be a writer. Early aspiration lead to early success, and his senior year at NYU, he entered a half-hour television script he'd written into a contest hosted by CBS. While the script didn't win, it was a runner-up, and shortly after the contest Levin sold it to NBC. So, after graduating from NYU, when he asked his parents if he could stay home to work on his writing, they were supportive. Levin's father told him he could have two years to concentrate solely on writing, and if he wasn't able to make a go of it in that amount of time, it would be time to join the family toy business.

     
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Six Interesting Facts About Ray Bradbury

By Neely Simpson. Aug 22, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Science Fiction

Ray Bradbury revolutionized science fiction, bringing it to the forefront of American pop culture. He inspired and continues to inspire countless innovators and creatives who have come after him. The innumerable list of people who call themselves Bradbury fans includes vanguards such as Stephen King, Steve Wozniak, Steven Spielberg, Stan Lee, Ursula Le Guin, Hugh Hefner, Buzz Aldrin, R.L. Stine, and Neil Gaiman. Here are six interesting facts about the man who unlocked the doors to America's imagination.

     
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Five Interesting Facts About Sir Walter Scott

By Neely Simpson. Aug 15, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Poetry, Literature

Sir Walter Scott is credited with popularizing the modern novel and making it a thing of respectability. Additionally, he helped form historical fiction as a genre and put Scotland on the map as a tourist destination. Here are five more interesting facts about the man who gave us the oft quoted line, "Oh, what a tangled web we weave when first we practice to deceive!"

     
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P.D. James: An Unlikely Writer

By Neely Simpson. Aug 3, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Biographies, Mystery, Suspense & Crime

When I first heard that Humpty Dumpty fell off the wall, I immediately wondered:
Did he fall — or was he pushed?
- P. D. James

It's hard to imagine a high school drop-out becoming one of the world's great novelists. In that regard, P.D. James seems an unlikely writer. However, the great P.D. James was a force to be reckoned with, both on and off the page. At the age of 16 she left school to help raise her two younger siblings, and she took a job to support her struggling family. She worked for the Red Cross during World War II and was also a National Health Service administrator. But, she spent the majority of her career with the Home Office of the British Civil Service in the Police and Criminal Law Department. She was the sole breadwinner for her two daughters and a husband who had to be institutionalized after World War II. Additionally, she was appointed as a life "peer" and named Baroness James of Holland Park. She served in the House of Lords as a Conservative and was a governor of the BBC. It boggles the mind that P.D. James found the time to write at all, let alone author 19 novels and 1 autobiography.

     
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Beatrix Potter: Rebel With a Cause

By Neely Simpson. Jul 28, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Legendary Illustrators, Children's Books, Biographies

Flopsy, Mopsy, and Cotton-tail, who were good little bunnies, went down the lane to gather blackberries. But Peter, who was very naughty ran straight away to Mr. McGregor's garden, and squeezed under the gate!

Like the mischievous, furry, little protagonist who propelled her into a wildly successful publishing career about as fast as he was able to get himself into trouble in Mr. McGregor's garden, Beatrix Potter had a rebellious streak a mile wide. Although she has become a household name as the author of enchanting children's stories, both her stories and her vocation ran much deeper. A constant disappointment to her parents because of her independence and refusal to adhere to the precepts of a privileged woman of Victorian society, Potter's stories are filled with spirited critters who are constantly breaking the rules laid down for them. Had Potter been the proper Victorian daughter her parents craved, she would have focused all her energies on social standing and making an advantageous marriage. Rather, determined to do something with her life, she passionately and rebelliously poured herself into pursuits in science, publishing, and conservation.

     
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William Makepeace Thackeray's Imprudent Marriage

By Neely Simpson. Jul 18, 2015. 9:00 AM.

Topics: Literature, History

"If people only made prudent marriages, what a stop to population there would be!"
-
William Makepeace Thackeray, Vanity Fair

William Makepeace Thackeray, best known for novels like Vanity Fair and Catherine, did not make a prudent marriage. He seriously considered marrying for money, but when he met Isabella Shawe, he married for love. Although theirs can’t be considered a marriage that was full of happiness and good times, it certainly spurred him to prolific writing. For most of his career he had to "write for his life," as he called it, not only to support his family, but also to pay for the treatments and care required for his wife who fell into so deep a depression, she was often catatonic.

     
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Richard Russo: Defender of the Writing Life

Richard Russo believes in books — the people who write them, the people who publish them, and the people who get them into the hands of readers. As one of three Vice Presidents of the Author's Guild, along with Judy Blume and James Shapiro, he has put on the mantle of defender of what he calls, “the writing life.” As such, he says he wants to see all areas of the literary "ecosystem" flourish. To maintain the health of this ecosystem, he has taken an active role in promoting young writers, supporting libraries, and advocating for the diversity of the publishing industry.

     
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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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