Feb. 7, 2000
Poem: "Second Pressing" by Leonard Nathan from The Potato Eaters (Orchises Press).
Itís the birthday of writer CHARLES DICKENS, born in Portsmouth, Hampshire, England, in 1812. He had a happy childhood until his father was sent to debtorsí prison, and Charles, then twelve, was put to work in a blacking warehouse. Memories of this painful time inspired much of his fiction, especially the early chapters of David Copperfield (1850). His first novel, The Pickwick Papers (1837) made him, at 25, the most popular writer in England.
Itís the birthday of the lexicographer Sir JAMES (Augustus Henry) MURRAY, born in Denholm, Scotland, in 1837. In his middle age, he began working on what would become The Oxford English Dictionary. By the time of his death, at 78, he had completed half the dictionarysections A through D, H through K, Plus the letters O, P, and T.
Itís the birthday of Childrenís Writer LAURA INGALLS WILDER, born in Pepin, Wisconsin, in 1867. When she was in her sixties her daughter urged her to writer down her childhood reminiscences of the American West. She did so in a series of books, beginning with Little House in the Big Woods (1932), and Little House on the Prairie (1935).
Itís the birthday of bacteriologist SHIGA KIVOSHI, born in Sendai, Japan, in 1871. Heís known for discovering the dysentery bacillus, Shigella, which was named for him.
Itís the birthday of ragtime pianist and composer (James Hubert) EUBIE BLAKE, born in Baltimore in 1883, who lived to be 100 years and five days old. Late in life he commented, "If Iíd known I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself." With Noble Sissle he wrote the first black musical on Broadway, "Shuffle Along" (1921).
Itís the birthday of novelist SINCLAIR LEWIS, born in Sauk Center, Minnesota (1885) which he called Gopher Prairie in his novel Main Street (1920), the satire of Midwestern Provincialism that made his reputation. He was the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature (1930). His other books include Babbitt (1922), Elmer Gantry (1927), and Dodsworth (1929).
Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®