Feb. 18, 1998

Prairie Spring

by Willa Cather


Today's Reading: "Prairie Spring" by Willa Cather.

PLUTO was discovered on this date in 1930 by a 24-year old astronomer named Clyde Tombaugh. He'd gotten a job at the Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona with no education as an astronomer. The Lowell scientists gave him the task of trying to find the mysterious Planet X that the observatory's founder, Percival Lowell, had thought was out there somewhere but couldn't locate. On February 18, 1930, Tombaugh saw a tiny dot of light on photographic plates he'd made of the night sky.

It's the birthday of poet AUDRE LORDE, in New York, 1934. Author of the non-fiction book, The Cancer Journals, written in 1980 when her doctors discovered she had breast cancer. She wrote a sequel to The Cancer Journals in 1988, A Burst of Light, which won the National Book Award. She died in 1992.

The Czech director, MILOS FORMAN, was born on this day in 1932, in Caslav, in the Czech Republic, famous for the 1975 One Flew over the Cuckoo's Nest, and Amadeus, in 1984.

It's also the birthday of TONI MORRISON, born in Lorain, Ohio in 1931, author of Beloved, which won the 1987 Pulitzer, and winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993.

It's the birthday of writer WALLACE STEGNER, born in Lake Mills, Iowa in 1909. He won the Pulitzer in 1972 for his novel, Angle of Repose a story about a young man trying unsuccessfully to strike it rich in the mines of the West.

Mark Twain's THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN was published on this date in 1884. The story of Huck and Jim's float down the Mississippi on a raft was Twain's best-selling novel, and allowed him to bring back some of the characters he'd created eight years earlier in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

It's the birthday of SHOLEM ALEICHEM in Pereyaslav, Russia, in 1859, who wrote over 40 novels, plays and short stories, all in Yiddish. He emigrated here to the U.S. around the turn of the century and as his work got translated into English he became known as the "Jewish Mark Twain."

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