Jun. 25, 2000


by Edward Thomas

Broadcast Date: SUNDAY: June 25, 2000

Poem: "Adelstrop," by Edward Thomas, from Collected Poems (W.W. Norton & Company).

The Korean War began on this day in 1950. North Korean troops crossed the 38th parallel and launched a full-scale invasion of the South. Two days later, President Truman took America into the conflict without asking Congress for a declaration of war— the first time this happened in our history. Using the U.N. security Council as his authority, Truman said the Korean crisis was not a war but a "police action." It lasted until July 27, 1953, when an armistice was signed formally dividing the country. 23,300 Americans were killed in the war. Estimates of total losses come to almost two million military fatalities, plus a million civilian deaths.

Itís the birthday of suspense writer Dorothy Gilman, born in New Brunswick, New Jersey (1924). She created a series of spy books featuring Mrs. Emily Pollifaxa bored, lonely New Jersey widow in her sixties—who applies for a job with the CIA, is chosen for special assignments, and is sent to exotic locales where she looked more like a kindly tourist than a spy. The first one was The Unexpected Mrs. Pollifax (1966).

It's the birthday of novelist and biographer Nicholas Mosley, born in London (1923). He's the author of a 3 volume biography of his father, Sir Oswald Mosley, the British Fascist.

Itís the birthday of novelist George Orwell (Eric Arthur Blair), born in Motihari, India (1903), author of Down and Out in Paris and London (1933), Burmese Days (1934), and Homage to Catalonia (1938). But he's best known for his satires Animal Farm (1945) and Nineteen Eighty-four (1949), published just before he died (1950).

In 1903 on this day, scientist Marie Curie announced the discovery of radium, a radioactive metallic element remarkable for its spontaneous disintegration. She, her husband Pierre, and Antoine Becquerel would share the 1903 Nobel Prize for Physics.

Itís the birthday of George Abbott, born in Forestville, New York (1887) who lived to be 107 years old, and was involved, one way or another, with more than 120 productions on and off Broadway and on the road. He wrote The Pajama Game (1955) Damn Yankees (1956), Fiorello (1959) and others.

On this day in 1876, the Dakota Sioux Chief Sitting Bull wiped out the forces of General George Custer at the Battle of Little Big Horn in Montana. Custer, commanding 264 soldiers of the 7th Cavalry, was too impatient to wait for the reinforcements who were about to arrive. He died along with all his men in the battle.

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 »