Feb. 10, 1998


Today's Reading: "Leisure" by William Henry Davies.

Arthur Miller's play, DEATH OF A SALESMAN, opened 49 years ago tonight at the Morosco Theater in New York with Lee Cobb playing Willy Loman. It won the 1949 Pulitzer

It's the birthday of soprano LEONTYNE PRICE, born in Laurel, Mississippi in 1927. She made her Metropolitan Opera debut in 1961 in Verdi's Il Trovatore and got a 42-minute standing ovation at the final curtain C a Met record

It's the birthday in 1902 of the American physicist WALTER BRATTAIN born in Amoy, China. He did the research into semiconductors that gave rise to the transistor, which replaced the old vacuum tubes in electronics

It's the birthday of STELLA ADLER, in Manhattan, 1901, the teacher who specialized in Method acting. She taught actors to rely on imagination, not their own personal memories to create characters

It's the birthday of BERTOLT BRECHT, born in Bavaria, Germany, 1898 C best known here in the States for his librettos to Kurt Weill operas written in the 20s and early 30s: The Threepenny Opera, and The Rise and Fall of the Town Mahagonny

BORIS PASTERNAK, who wrote Doctor Zhivago, was born on this date in 1890. Zhivago brought him nothing but heartbreak: he submitted it for publication in 1956, but the Soviets condemned him for it and rejected it. He said, "in every generation there has to be some fool who will speak the truth as he sees it," then mailed it to an Italian publisher who quickly bought it; a year later it'd been translated into 18 languages

It's the WEDDING ANNIVERSARY of VICTORIA, Queen of England, and PRINCE ALBERT C married on this day in 1840. They were first cousins, and since she was the queen she proposed to him. She wrote in her journal that "Albert really is quite charming, and so extremely handsome, a beautiful figure, broad in the shoulders and a fine waist; my heart is quite going."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®




  • “Writers end up writing stories—or rather, stories' shadows—and they're grateful if they can, but it is not enough. Nothing the writer can do is ever enough” —Joy Williams
  • “I want to live other lives. I've never quite believed that one chance is all I get. Writing is my way of making other chances.” —Anne Tyler
  • “Writing is a performance, like singing an aria or dancing a jig” —Stephen Greenblatt
  • “All good writing is swimming under water and holding your breath.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • “Good writing is always about things that are important to you, things that are scary to you, things that eat you up.” —John Edgar Wideman
  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Writing is like driving at night in the fog. You can only see as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” —E.L. Doctorow
  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
  • “A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.” —Thomas Mann
  • “Writing is 90 percent procrastination: reading magazines, eating cereal out of the box, watching infomercials.” —Paul Rudnick
  • “Writing is a failure. Writing is not only useless, it's spoiled paper.” —Padget Powell
  • “Writing is very hard work and knowing what you're doing the whole time.” —Shelby Foote
  • “I think all writing is a disease. You can't stop it.” —William Carlos Williams
  • “Writing is like getting married. One should never commit oneself until one is amazed at one's luck.” —Iris Murdoch
  • “The less conscious one is of being ‘a writer,’ the better the writing.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is…that oddest of anomalies: an intimate letter to a stranger.” —Pico Iyer
  • “Writing is my dharma.” —Raja Rao
  • “Writing is a combination of intangible creative fantasy and appallingly hard work.” —Anthony Powell
  • “I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.” —Michael Cunningham
The Writer's Almanac on Facebook

The Writer's Almanac on Twitter

Subscribe to our daily newsletter for poems, prose and literary history every morning
An interview with Jeffrey Harrison at The Writer's Almanac Bookshelf
Current Faves - Learn more about poets featured frequently on the show
O, What a Luxury

Although he has edited several anthologies of his favorite poems, O, What a Luxury: Verses Lyrical, Vulgar, Pathetic & Profound forges a new path for Garrison Keillor, as a poet of light verse. Purchase O, What a Luxury »