Jun. 13, 1999

Advice to a Girl

by Thomas Campion

Broadcast Date: SUNDAY: June 13, 1999

Poem: "Advice to a Girl," by Thomas Campion (1567-1620).

Today is the feast day of Saint Athony of Padua (1195-1231), patron saint of the illiterate and the poor.

It's the birthday of novelist Fanny Burney, born in King's Lynn, Norfolk, England (1752)—the daughter of a musician and keeper of robes in the queen's household. She published her Evelina, or, A Young Lady's Entrance into the World (1778) at the age of 26, and became well-known for her diaries and letters published after her death. A male character in Evelina remarks, "I don't know what the devil a woman lives for after thirty. She is only in other folks' way." "It's a delightful thing to think of perfection; but it's vastly more amusing to talk of errors and absurdities."

It's the birthday of poet William Butler Yeats, born in Sandymount, Dublin (1865). He and Lady Gregory founded the Irish Literary Theatre in 1889, which became the Abbey Theatre in 1904—one of Ireland's premier theatres. If he had died then, at 40, Yeats might now be thought a minor poet of the Pre-Raphaelite tradition, but instead lived and produced his greatest work between the ages of 50 and 75. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1923.

Today is the birthday of physicist Luis W. Alvarez, born in San Francisco (1911), winner of the 1968 Nobel Prize in Physics for his use of bubble chambers to detect new subatomic particles.

Today is the birthday of mystery writer Dorothy L. Sayers, born into a clerical family in Oxford, England (1893). She earned a degree in medieval literature and in 1923 she issued the first of her 11 novels featuring Lord Peter Wimsey, a dashing gentleman-scholar-detective. Her Lord Peter Wimsey titles include: Whose Body? (1923), Gaudy Night (1935), Busman's Holiday (1936). She also wrote verse, including this little poem: "As I grow older and older|And totter towards the tomb|I find that I care less and less|Who goes to bed with whom."

It's the birthday of poet and teacher Mark Van Doren, born in Hope, Illinois (1894)— longtime writer and writing teacher at Columbia University, and teacher to John Berryman, Clifton Fadiman, Thomas Merton, Lionel Trilling, Allen Ginsberg, and Jack Kerouac.

Today is the 64th birthday of ‘conceptual artist' "Christo"—born Christo Javacheff, in Gabrovo, Bulgaria, 1935, best known for wrapping things like buildings and bridges with colorful plastic.

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
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  • “In certain ways writing is a form of prayer.” —Denise Levertov
  • “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” —E.L. Doctorow
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  • “Let's face it, writing is hell.” —William Styron
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  • “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
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  • “Writing is my dharma.” —Raja Rao
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  • “I think writing is, by definition, an optimistic act.” —Michael Cunningham
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