Nov. 7, 1998

On Fame

by John Keats


Today's Reading: "On Fame" by John Keats (1795-1821).

It's the anniversary of THE LONDON GAZETTE, the oldest surviving publication, that went on sale this day in 1665.

It was on this day in 1805 that LEWIS AND CLARK sighted the Pacific Ocean on their great overland expedition that began at St. Louis the year before. It was near the mouth of the Columbia River, not far from where Astoria, Oregon stands today. They wrote in their journal that day: "Great joy, we are in view of the ocean which we have been so long anxious to see, and the roaring or noise made by the waves breaking on the rocky shores may be heard distinctly." They built a fort there, named Fort Clatsop, a log stockade 50 feet square, and spent the winter there, before heading back to St. Louis.

It's the birthday of MARIE CURIE, born in Warsaw, Poland, 1867, famous for her work on radioactivity and one of the rare double Nobel Prize winners. She began her study of physics in Paris when she was 24, and graduated at the top of her class. She married Pierre Curie and together they discovered the element radium and coined the term "radioactive."

It's the birthday of HERMAN MANKIEWICZ, screenwriter, journalist, and playwright, born in 1897 in New York. He was best known as the co-author, with Orson Welles, of the screenplay Citizen Kane (1941).

It's the birthday of the French philosopher and writer ALBERT CAMUS, born in Algiers in 1913. His best-known works are his first novel The Stranger (1942), about a man condemned to death; the same year he published The Myth of Sisyphus, a long philosophical essay on nihilism. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature when he was 44 years old.

It's BILLY GRAHAM's 80th birthday, born in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1918. He was the son of a dairy farmer, attended Bible college and started preaching in the Tampa area in 1938.

It's soprano DAME JOAN SUTHERLAND's birthday, born in Sydney, Australia, 1926. She began studying piano and voice when she was just a girl, with her mother. In her mid-20s she moved to London, and 10 years later she became an international star with a single performance at London's Covent Garden Opera House — that of the opera Lucia de Lammermoor, about a Scottish woman driven to madness when forced to marry a man she does not love.

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
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