Apr. 8, 2000

I Will Make You Brooches

by Robert Louis Stevenson

Broadcast Date: SATURDAY: April 8, 2000

Poem: "I Will Make You Brooches," by Robert Louis Stevenson.

It's the birthday of novelist BARBARA KINGSOLVER, born in Annapolis, Maryland (1955), who grew up in rural Kentucky. Her first novel, The Bean Trees (1988), was followed by Animal Dreams (1990), Pigs in Heaven (1993), and The Poisonwood Bible (1998).

It's the birthday of journalist SEYMOUR HERSH, born in Chicago (1937), who broke the story of the My Lai massacre in Vietnam.

It's the birthday of jazz singer CARMEN McRAE, born in Harlem, New York (1920). At 19 she won an amateur contest at the Apollo Theater on 125th street in Harlem. She was noticed by the wife of pianist Teddy Wilson, who played for Billy Holiday—and so was able to meet her greatest musical inspiration. "If Billie Holiday had never existed," she said years later, "I probably wouldn't have either."

It's the birthday of editor and publisher ROBERT GIROUX, born in New Jersey (1914). He was working his way through the editorial ranks of what was then Harcourt, Brace & Company, when he discovered author Jean Stafford. Later, he discovered Bernard Malamud, and published Malamud's first novel, The Natural, in 1952. Other authors Giroux edited in his long career include Carl Sandburg, Flannery O Connor, Jack Kerouac, and T.S. Eliot.

It's the birthday of novelist JOHN FANTE, born in Denver (1911). He settled in L.A. during the depression and wrote many novels set there. His books include Ask the Dust (1939), Full of Life (1952), Brotherhood of the Grape (1977) and Dreams from Bunker Hill (1982).

It's the birthday of lyricist (E.Y.) 'YIP' HARBURG, born in New York City (1988). He wrote the words to "Brother, Can You Spare a Dime?" (1932), "April in Paris" (1932), and "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" (1939), among others.

On this day in 1871, ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON, 20 years old, told his father he was giving up engineering to become a writer. Chronic poor health—he would die of tuberculosis at 44—had made schooling difficult, yet he was expected to carry on his father's trade of lighthouse design. He married a divorced American, and the couple moved to Switzerland, where he wrote the adventure story Treasure Island (1883). He later wrote Kidnapped (1887), and A Child's Garden of Verses (1885).

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 Jeffrey Harrison 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 »