Saturday

Jun. 14, 2008

The Death Of Queen Jane

by Anonymous

King Henry was sent for in the hour of her need
King Henry came to her, and he came with all speed

King Henry bent over her, and he kissed her on the lips
Crying, "What ails my flower? Her eyes are so dim"

"Henry, dear Henry, as I take you to be
Pray open my right side and save my baby"

"Oh no, Queen Jane, that never can be
To lose my sweet flower just to save my baby"

Queen Jane turned over and she fell into a swoon
Her right side was opened and the baby was found

How bright was the morning, how yellow was the bed
How costly the shroud that Queen Jane was wrapped in

Six men picked her up, and they carried her along
King Henry followed after with his black mourning on

King Henry he wept, and he wrung his hands
till they were sore
Crying, "The Flower of England will never
bloom no more"

"The Death Of Queen Jane" Old English Ballad. Public Domain.

It's the birthday of American editor and publisher John Bartlett, born in Plymouth, Massachusetts (1820). His Familiar Quotations (1855) is still familiar and in its 17th edition. Bartlett started working at the University Book Store in nearby Cambridge, Massachusetts, when he was 16. Here he picked up his habit of collecting quotations, many of which came from the Bible and Shakespeare. "Ask John Bartlett" became a pass phrase among students looking for an odd bit of knowledge. Bartlett bought the bookstore in 1849 and married the granddaughter of a Harvard University president a couple years later. Besides books he enjoyed fishing and whist.

It's the birthday of American novelist Harriet Beecher Stowe, (books by this author) born Harriet Elizabeth Beecher in Litchfield, Connecticut (1811). Stowe's most famous work, Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), was published in weekly installments for a year in the abolitionist paper National Era before it was published in its entirety. Three million copies of the book were sold before the Civil War began in 1861. Uncle Tom's Cabin influenced the course of American history by crystallizing opinions of slavery in the North.

Stowe grew up in a religious household and read voraciously as a child. The family moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, when she was 21 following her father's appointment as the head of Lane Theological Seminary there. In Cincinnati, she married Calvin Ellis Stowe. She was also exposed to southern plantations just across the Ohio River. Stowe always disapproved of slavery, but it wasn't until the Fugitive Slave Act of 1850 that she decided to write about it.

The publication of Uncle Tom's Cabin brought Stowe international acclaim. She was invited to give lectures in Scotland and England and met Queen Victoria in 1856. The book was translated into 37 languages and made into both a play and a musical. George Aiken's dramatization was performed continuously from 1853 to 1934 in the United States. Throughout the Civil War, Stowe advocated for rights for former slaves, although she avoided associations with extremist abolitionists. Following the war, the author set up a school for former slaves in Florida.

Stowe said, "The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone."

On this day in 1940, two landmark events of World War II occurred. German forces occupied Paris and the first prisoners were interred in the concentration camp in Oswiecim, Poland, better known today by its German name: Auschwitz. Paris remained under occupation until August 25, 1944, but managed to escape large-scale destruction during the war. Auschwitz, the largest concentration camp in Nazi Germany, was in operation until January 1945. The first prisoners were Polish political dissidents, but by its liberation Auschwitz had seen the extermination of more than a million gypsies, homosexuals, and Jewish men and women from across the continent.

It's the birthday of American novelist Mona Simpson, (books by this author) born in Green Bay, Wisconsin (1957). Simpson's work explores themes of mother-daughter relationships, divorce, absent fathers, and small-town America, beginning with her first novel, Anywhere But Here (1986).

In 1995, Simpson married Richard Appel, a writer and producer of The Simpsons television show. (Homer Simpson's mother shares her name.)

Simpson's most recent novels are The Lost Father (1991), A Regular Guy (1996), Off Keck Road (2000), and Bea Maxwell (2002).

Simpson said, "What I'd finally say about truth and autobiography is that all writers are probably trying to get at some core truth of life, at some configuration that is enduring and truthful. I just haven't found the truth to be my vehicle."

Be well, do good work, and keep in touch.®

 









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