Tuesday

May 12, 1998

The Owl and the Pussycat

by Edward Lear

TUESDAY 5/12

Today's Reading: "The Owl and the Pussycat" by Edward Lear.

ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS got started in Akron, Ohio on this day in 1935, when a New York stockbroker and an Akron surgeon met for the first time. AA members use only first names and last initials, and Bill W. and Dr. Bob S. started the group by sharing their stories as alcoholics and developing the 12-Step Method of Recovery. There are now about 90,000 groups in 122 countries.

It's the birthday in Belleville, Ontario, 1921, of FARLEY MOWAT, author of Never Cry Wolf, People of the Deer, and other books about the Canadian north. He studied a pack of wolves for months and found them to be intelligent and social not the killers most people had always thought them to be. He wrote about them in Never Cry Wolf, which came out in 1963 and started a change in attitude about the animal: shortly after the book was translated into Russian, the government there banned the hunting of wolves.

The 15 leaders of the IRISH EASTER REBELLION were executed on this day in Dublin, 1916, beginning a storm of anti-British feeling that led in 1921 to the establishment of the Irish Free State. On the day after Easter, James Connolly and Patrick Pearse had led a group of several hundred Irishmen to the steps of the Dublin Post Office where they proclaimed Ireland independent from Britain. British soldiers and gunboats squashed the rebellion within days and the leaders were arrested and court-martialed. Not many Irish supported the uprising, but the executions were seen as heavy-handed and marked the beginning of the end of British rule there.

It's the birthday in 1828, London, of DANTE GABRIEL ROSSETTI, the poet and painter who in his early 20s started a group called the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood English artists who tried to counter the sentimentality of Victorian art. Their ideal was the art they deemed more realistic before the 16th-century painter Raphael.

It's the birthday of the founder of modern nursing, FLORENCE NIGHTINGALE, born in 1820, in Florence, Italy and named for the city. All of England knew this young woman who, at 34, made headlines by organizing a group of a dozen nurses to treat British soldiers in the Crimean War. The military hospital she arrived at in Turkey was rat-infested, the wounded lay on straw in the hallways. Her first action was basic hygiene and within months, the hospital death rate fell by two-thirds.

It's the birthday in 1812, Halloway, England of the writer and artist EDWARD LEAR, famous in his own day for portraits and big, romantic landscapes, but who we know today as the author of five "Nonsense Books" silly lyrics and limericks, like this description he wrote of himself: His mind is concrete and fastidious, His nose is remarkably big; His visage is more or less hideous, His beard it resembles a wig.

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 Sharon Olds 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 »