Nov. 24, 1998

Bloody Men

by Wendy Cope


Poem: "Bloody Men," by Wendy Cope, from SERIOUS CONCERNS (Faber & Faber, 1998).

It was on this day in 1947 that the HOLLYWOOD TEN — a group of writers, producers and directors — were cited for contempt of Congress after refusing to tell the House Committee on Un-American Activities if they were communists. The Ten were given prison sentences of six months to a year, then blacklisted by Hollywood, and most never worked there again.

It's the birthday of the American author FRANCES ELIZA BURNETT, born in 1849 in Manchester England, the author of Little Lord Fauntleroy (1886), about an American boy who inherits a British earldom.

One of the small inventions of the 19th century that helped tame the West was patented on this day in 1874: a machine to make BARBED WIRE. Within 15 years, fenced pasture land virtually replaced the open range in the West.

It was on this day in 1859 that CHARLES DARWIN's book, THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES, was published. Darwin had been at work on his theory of evolution for over 20 years after returning from the Galapagos Islands, basing it on the concept of natural selection: the survival of one species over despite starvation, predators, and disease.

It's the English novelist LAURENCE STERNE's birthday, born in 1713, County Tipperary, Ireland, author of one of the earliest comic novels, Tristram Shandy, a huge best-seller in mid-18th-century England.

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




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