Oct. 15, 2000

Frankie and Albert

by Anonymous

Broadcast date: SUNDAY, 15 October 2000

Poem: "Frankie and Albert," Anonymous.

It's the birthday of Italian short-story writer and novelist Italo Calvino, born in Santiago de las Vegas, Cuba, in 1923. Calvino left Cuba for Italy in his youth, and grew up in San Remo. He considered his seventh novel, Invisible Cities (1972), to be his "most finished and perfect" book.

It's the birthday of American economist John Kenneth Galbraith, born in Iona Station, Ontario, Canada (1908), one of the most influential economists of the 20th century. He's the author of The Great Crash, 1929 (1957), The Affluent Society (1958), and many other books.

It's the birthday of English novelist C. P. Snow, born in Leicester England in 1905. Snow was trained as a physicist at Cambridge, but is best remembered for his series of eleven novels known collectively as Strangers and Brothers.

It's the birthday of comic novelist Sir P.G. Wodehouse, born in Guildford, Surrey, England, in 1881, famous for his creation of the dim-witted English bachelor Bertie Wooster and his coolly superior manservant, Jeeves. Jeeves and Wooster appeared in dozens of novels and stories between 1917 and 1971, all of which are set in the same upper-class, late Edwardian atmosphere of private clubs and country houses, populated with domineering aunts, sentimental young ladies, and usually end with Jeeves extricating his hapless master from disastrous situations.

It's the birthday of English travel writer Isabella Bird, born in Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire (1831), who, when advised to travel for her health, made her first trip to North America when she was twenty-three. She spent several months there, and the trip provided her with material for her first book, The Englishwoman in America. She traveled to Hawaii in 1872, and wrote Six Months in the Sandwich Islands (1875). From there, she visited the western United States. In A Lady's Life in the Rocky Mountains (1879), she recounts her experience of riding alone through a blizzard with her eyes frozen shut.

It's the birthday of the Roman poet Publius Vergilius Maro (Vergil), born near Mantua in 70 BC. First he wrote his Eclogues (42 to 37 BC), pastoral poems expressing a nostalgic love of a countryside changed by war. Then he worked on the Georgics (37 to 30 BC), a didactic poem in three volumes about farming. The most famous episode in the poem is his story of Orpheus and Eurydice. Vergil spent the last years of his life composing his epic poem the Aeneid, which became revered Rome's national epic.

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