MONDAY, 7 MAY, 2007
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Poem: "Birthday Girl: 1950" by Linda McCarriston, from Talking Soft Dutch. © Texas Tech Press, 1984. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Birthday Girl: 1950

              for my mother

The day the package came
from Sears, you were ironing
and smoking, in the one
slab of light that elbowed in
between our three-decker
and the next one.
World Series Time, and the radio
bobbing on the square end
of the board told over
what you already knew:

The Sox are the same old
bunch of bums!
you said, slamming
the iron into some navy gabardine;
the smells of workclothes—Tide
and oil—rose up together
in steam around you, like the roar
of the crowd at Fenway
and the shouts, downstairs,
of Imalda, getting belted around
her kitchen at noon.

Some people can make anything
out of anything else. If you
still can, remember that day
like this: you douse your cigarette
and squat down close; I open
the box addressed only to me
and find inside the pair of sandals
you call harlequin, with straps
as many colored as a life.

I am happy. You buckle them on me.
Every room is dark but where we are.
Every other room is empty.

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of novelist Peter Carey, (books by this author) born in Bacchus Marsh, Victoria, Australia (1943). He first made his name with a collection of very strange short stories called The Fat Man in History (1974), which got great reviews. He went on to publish a series of dark surrealist novels and then moved to New York City, where one day he saw a series of paintings at the Metropolitan Museum of Art depicting Ned Kelly, a horse thief and murderer who has become a kind of folk hero in Australia. Carey tried to explain to his American friends who Ned Kelly was, and that gave him the idea to write a novel about Ned Kelly's life, narrated by Kelly himself. And that book, True History of the Kelly Gang, won the Booker Prize when it came out in 2000.

His most recent novel, Theft: A Love Story, came out in 2006.

Peter Carey said, "Self-knowledge does not necessarily help a novelist. It helps a human being a great deal but novelists, as we know, are often appalling human beings."


Today is the birthday two famous composers: Johannes Brahms, born in Hamburg, Germany (1833), and Piotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky, born seven years later in Votkinsk, Russia (1840).


It's the birthday of the poet Jenny Joseph, (books by this author) born in Birmingham, England (1932). She was an aspiring poet throughout her 20s, supporting herself with odd jobs. Then in 1960, when she was 28 years old, she published a poem called "Warning," which began with the line, "When I am an old woman, I shall wear purple."

The poem was moderately successful at first, published in several anthologies, but then it began to spread across the world among people who don't usually read poetry. It was photocopied and passed around and stuck up on people's refrigerators. People read it at church gatherings and funerals and senior citizen homes. In 1996, in a poll conducted by the BBC, it was voted as Britain's favorite post-war poem, beating out Dylan Thomas's "Do Not Go Gentle Into that Good Night."

Somehow, as the poem became more and more popular, Jenny Joseph's name as the author was lost. Other people claimed to have written the poem, or it was attributed to "Anonymous." Jenny Joseph eventually published an authorized, illustrated version of the poem in 1997, which sold thousands of copies. Her name is still not as well known as that one poem, but today she is considered one of the foremost contemporary British poets.

When she was asked if she would start wearing purple anytime soon, Jenny Joseph replied, "I can't stand purple. It doesn't suit me."




TUESDAY, 8 MAY, 2007
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Poem: "Above Pate Valley" by Gary Snyder, from Riprap and Cold Mountain Poems. © Shoemaker & Hoard Publishers, 2003. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Above Pate Valley

We finished clearing the last
Section of trail by noon,
High on the ridge-side
Two thousand feet above the creek
Reached the pass, went on
Beyond the white pine groves,
Granite shoulders, to a small
Green meadow watered by the snow,
Edged with Aspen—sun
Straight high and blazing
But the air was cool.
Ate a cold fried trout in the
Trembling shadows. I spied
A glitter, and found a flake
Black volcanic glass—obsidian—
By a flower. Hands and knees
Pushing the Bear grass, thousands
Of arrowhead leavings over a
Hundred yards. Not one good
Head, just razor flakes
On a hill snowed all but summer,
A land of fat summer deer,
They came to camp. On their
Own trails. I followed my own
Trail here. Picked up the cold-drill,
Pick, singlejack, and sack
Of dynamite.
Ten thousand years.

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of Edmund Wilson, (books by this author) born in Red Bank, New Jersey (1895). He was a novelist, journalist, and a literary critic, and he wrote about all kinds of things, including Russian poetry, Haitian literature, the Hebrew language, the Dead Sea Scrolls, and the literature produced during the American Civil War. He introduced Americans to writers like James Joyce, Marcel Proust, and Vladimir Nabokov, and he almost single-handedly resurrected the reputation of the novelist Henry James, who had been forgotten for years.


It's the birthday of novelist Thomas Pynchon, (books by this author) born in Glen Cove, Long Island (1937). He's the author of many novels, including V. (1963), The Crying of Lot 49 (1966), and Gravity's Rainbow (1973).


Today is believed to be the birthday of the legendary bluesman Robert Johnson, born in Hazlehurst, Mississippi (1911). We know very little about his life. He's been so mythologized that he's become almost a character out of a folktale. The only reason we know for sure he existed is that in 1937 he recorded 29 of his songs over the course of two recording sessions. He had two photographs taken of himself around the same time. Those were the only recordings he made and the only photographs taken of him in his lifetime, and he died the following year, at the age of 27.


It's the birthday of Gary Snyder, (books by this author) born in San Francisco (1930). As a student, he found summer work as a forest ranger, a logger, and a seaman. And in 1955, he worked on a trail crew at Yosemite National Park, where he began writing the first poems that he published. He participated in the Beat scene in San Francisco and then went to Japan. He spent most of the next 12 years in a monastery, studying Buddhism. He's since had a long, steady career as a poet, an environmental activist, and a Zen Buddhist.

Snyder said, "As a poet I hold the most archaic values on earth. They go back to the Neolithic: the fertility of the soil, the magic of animals, the power-vision in solitude, the terrifying initiation and rebirth, the love and ecstasy of the dance, the common work of the tribe."


It's the birthday of one of the most popular Irish novelists of his generation, Roddy Doyle, (books by this author) born in Dublin (1958). Doyle was raised in a working-class suburb of Dublin called Kilbarrack. He knew he wanted to be a writer, but he decided to become a teacher because it was a good steady job. He got hired at the high school in his hometown and went on to teach English and geography for 14 years. His students called him "Punk," because he came to class everyday wearing an earring and combat boots.

He wrote his first novel, The Commitments (1988), about the rise an Irish soul band from a fictional Dublin suburb called Barrytown. He went on to write two more novels that took place in the same fictional suburb, The Snapper (1990) and The Van (1991). Those three books became known as the Barrytown Trilogy.

Those first three novels were popular, but many literary critics didn't take them too seriously, because they consisted almost entirely of dialogue. So for his next book, Doyle decided to draw on his own childhood and write a story entirely from within the mind of a 10-year-old boy. The result was his novel Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha (1993), which became the first novel by an Irish writer to win the Booker Prize.




WEDNESDAY, 9 MAY, 2007
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Poem: "My Shoes" by Charles Simic, from Charles Simic: Selected Early Poems. © George Braziller, Inc., 1999. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

My Shoes

Shoes, secret face of my inner life:
Two gaping toothless mouths,
Two partly decomposed animal skins
Smelling of mice nests.

My brother and sister who died at birth
Continuing their existence in you,
Guiding my life
Toward their incomprehensible innocence.

What use are books to me
When in you it is possible to read
The Gospel of my life on earth
And still beyond, of things to come?

I want to proclaim the religion
I have devised for your perfect humility
And the strange church I am building
With you as the altar.

Ascetic and maternal, you endure:
Kin to oxen, to Saints, to condemned men,
With your mute patience, forming
The only true likeness of myself.

Literary and Historical Notes:

It was on this day in 1960 that the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved the use of the world's first birth control pill. It was one of the first times a drug had ever been approved by the FDA for a purpose other than to cure an illness or relieve pain. It was also the first time that a new medication was known not by its official name, Enovid-10, but simply as "the pill." In 1962, less than two years after the pill came on the market in the U.S., 1.2 million women were taking it daily. By 1968, that number had jumped to 12 million.


It's the birthday of poet Mona Van Duyn, (books by this author) born in Waterloo, Iowa (1921). She published her first book of poetry, Valentines to the Wide World, in 1959. She went on to publish many books of poetry, including Near Changes (1990), which won the Pulitzer Prize for poetry.


It's the birthday of poet Joy Harjo, (books by this author) born in Tulsa, Oklahoma (1951). She grew up on the racially mixed north side of Tulsa, with Muscogee ancestors on her father's side of the family and Cherokee ancestors on her mother's side. She has published several collections of poetry, including What Moon Drove Me to This? (1980) and She Had Some Horses (1983). Her most recent collection is How We Became Human (2002). She has also occasionally been a singer and saxophonist for a band called Poetic Justice.


It's the birthday of the creator of Peter Pan, J. M. (James Matthew) Barrie, (books by this author) born in Angus, Scotland (1860). Barrie first wrote about Peter Pan in a book of children's stories called The Little White Bird (1902). Two years later, he produced the play Peter Pan, the Boy Who Wouldn't Grow Up (1904), which included the well-known story about Peter and Wendy and Captain Hook. Even though he'd produced many successful plays before, Barrie became obsessed with the production of Peter Pan. He rewrote the script more than 20 times. It was one of the most expensive productions ever attempted at that time, since it required the construction of harnesses and wires so that the actors could appear to fly around the stage.


It's the birthday of poet who wrote, "I was stolen by the gypsies. My parents stole me right back. Then the gypsies stole me again. This went on for some time. ... We were so poor I had to take the place of the bait in the mousetrap. All alone in the cellar, I could hear them pacing upstairs, tossing and turning in their beds. 'These are dark and evil days,' the mouse told me as he nibbled my ear." That was Charles Simic, (books by this author) born in Belgrade, Yugoslavia (1938). His family survived the bombing of Belgrade during World War II and fled Eastern Europe after the war was over. Simic said, "My travel agents were Hitler and Stalin. They were the reason I ended up in the United States."

They wound up in Oak Park, Illinois, and Simic went to the same high school Ernest Hemingway had gone to. After a few years of working as a proofreader at the Chicago Sun-Times, he moved to New York City. Then in 1962, Simic enlisted in the army, where he began the first poems that he felt satisfied with. He published his first book of poetry, What the Grass Says, in 1967, and he went on to publish many more collections, including School for Dark Thoughts (1978), Frightening Toys (1995), and Night Picnic (2001).




THURSDAY, 10 MAY, 2007
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Poem: "Twilight: After Haying" by Jane Kenyon from Otherwise: New & Selected Poems. © Graywolf Press, 1997. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Twilight: After Haying

Yes, long shadows go out
from the bales; and yes, the soul
must part from the body:
what else could it do?

The men sprawl near the baler,
too tired to leave the field.
They talk and smoke,
and the tips of their cigarettes
blaze like small roses
in the night air. (It arrived
and settled among them
before they were aware.)

The moon comes
to count the bales,
and the dispossessed—
Whip-poor-will, Whip-poor-will
—sings from the dusty stubble.

These things happen ... the soul's bliss
and suffering are bound together
like the grasses ...

The last, sweet exhalations
of timothy and vetch
go out with the song of the bird;
the ravaged field
grows wet with dew.

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of the first African-American woman to win a Pulitzer Prize for drama, Suzan-Lori Parks, (books by this author) born in Fork Knox, Kentucky (1963). Her father was an officer in the Army, so Parks grew up in five different states and went to middle school in Germany. She went to college at Mount Holyoke, and while she was there, she began to hear voices of characters speaking in her head, and she felt compelled to write them down. Then, she had a chance to take a creative writing course with visiting writer James Baldwin. During the course, he asked everybody to read his or her work in front of the class. When Parks got her turn to read, she really tried to embody the characters, speaking in different voices and even moving around the room. Baldwin was impressed, and he suggested that she try her hand at playwriting. She hadn't been interested in drama at that point, but she later said, "When James Baldwin makes a suggestion, you listen."

She went to study acting at the Drama Studio in London and then came back to New York where she worked as a temp and started writing plays. For her first major production, she wrote a play called Imperceptible Mutabilities in the Third Kingdom (1989), which attempted to tell the story of the African-American experience through a series of dreamlike scenes. The play was wildly experimental, but it won the Obie Award for best Off-Broadway play of the year.

Then, in 1999, Parks got the idea for a play about two African-American brothers named Lincoln and Booth who get into a fight about whether or not Lincoln should return to his career as a con man. Parks wrote the play, called Topdog/Underdog in almost a single sitting. It premiered Off-Broadway in 2001, and within a year Parks had won both the MacArthur "genius" Award and the Pulitzer Prize for drama. It was the first play by an African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for drama.


It was on this day in 1994 that Nelson Mandela (books by this author) was inaugurated as the president of South Africa. He had just been released from prison four years earlier, after spending 27 years as a political prisoner of the South African government.


It was on this day in 1940 that Winston Churchill took power as the prime minister of Great Britain, a position he would hold for the rest of World War II. He came to power at a very dark moment for Europe. In less than two years, almost all of Western Europe's mainland was either controlled by or allied with Nazi Germany. And then, on this day in 1940, Churchill became the prime minister. In his acceptance speech, he famously said, "All I have to offer is blood, toil, tears, and sweat."


It's the birthday of Fred Astaire, born Frederick Austerlitz, in Omaha, Nebraska (1899). He started dancing when he was four, and when he was six he formed an act with his sister, Adele, which became a popular vaudeville attraction on Broadway. When Adele retired in 1932, Astaire made a screen test. The movie executive wrote, "Can't act, can't sing. Balding. Can dance a little." Still, Astaire got a part in Dancing Lady (1933). It starred Joan Crawford, Clark Gable, and the Three Stooges. He's famous for the movies he made with his dancing partner Ginger Rogers: classics like The Gay Divorcee (1934), Top Hat (1935), and Swing Time (1936).

Fred Astaire said, "The higher up you go, the more mistakes you are allowed. Right at the top, if you make enough of them, it's considered to be your style."




FRIDAY, 11 MAY, 2007
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Poem: "Heaven on Earth" by Kristin Berkey-Abbott from, Whistling Past the Graveyard. © Pudding House Publications, 2004. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Heaven on Earth

I saw Jesus at the bowling alley,
slinging nothing but gutter balls.
He said, "You've gotta love a hobby
that allows ugly shoes."
He lit a cigarette and bought me a beer.
So I invited him to dinner.

I knew the Lord couldn't see my house
in its current condition, so I gave it an out
of season spring cleaning. What to serve
for dinner? Fish—the logical
choice, but after 2000 years, he must grow weary
of everyone's favorite seafood dishes.
I thought of my Granny's ham with Coca Cola
glaze, but you can't serve that to a Jewish
boy. Likewise pizza—all my favorite
toppings involve pork.

In the end, I made us an all-dessert buffet.
We played Scrabble and Uno and Yahtzee
and listened to Bill Monroe.
Jesus has a healthy appetite for sweets,
I'm happy to report. He told strange
stories which I've puzzled over for days now.

We've got an appointment for golf on Wednesday.
Ordinarily I don't play, and certainly not in this humidity.
But the Lord says he knows a grand miniature
golf course with fiberglass mermaids and working windmills
and the best homemade ice cream you ever tasted.
Sounds like Heaven to me.

Literary and Historical Notes:

On this day, in 1858 the state of Minnesota was admitted into the Union. It was from Minnesota that we got the stapler, water skis and roller blades, Scotch tape, Bisquick, Bob Dylan, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and Spam.


It's the birthday of one of the foremost physicists of the 20th century, Richard Feynman, born in New York City (1918). Feynman went on to study physics at MIT, and while he was getting his Ph.D. in theoretical physics at Princeton, he got involved in the Manhattan Project to help develop the first nuclear weapon. On the day of the first test of the atom bomb, the scientists were all given special welder's goggles to protect their eyes from the light of the blast. But Feynman decided that he wanted to see the blast unfiltered. So he watched from behind the windshield of a truck, which he figured would protect him from ultraviolet light. He was the only person that day to see the first atomic explosion with naked eyes.

At first, he was happy that they'd completed their project, but after the bombs were dropped on Hiroshima, he began to feel that their work would lead to the end of the world. He said, "[I'd be out for a walk] and I would see people building a bridge ... and I thought, they're crazy, they're crazy, they just don't understand. ... Why are they making new things? It's so useless."

Feynman struggled for a few years, trying to decide what to do, but finally he realized that the thing he loved about physics was that it was fun, and he should just have fun with it. He took a job teaching at Cornell University. One day he was sitting in the cafeteria when he watched a student throw a plate across the room. Something about watching the spinning of that plate gave Feynman an idea for how certain subatomic particles might interact with each other. The result was his theory of quantum electrodynamics, which helped explain the relationship between light and subatomic particles. He won a Nobel Prize for his work in 1965.

Richard Feynman said, "Physics is like sex ... it may give some practical results, but that's not why we do it."


It's the birthday of Mari Sandoz, (books by this author) born in the post office run by her family near Hay Springs, Nebraska (1896). She made her name with a book about her pioneer father, called Old Jules (1935). She also wrote Crazy Horse (1942), one of the first books by a white author that tried to see the Indian Wars from the Indians' point of view.


It's the birthday of Stanley Elkin, (books by this author) born in New York City (1930). He's the author of several humorous novels, including The Magic Kingdom (1985) and The Dick Gibson Show (1971) about a radio personality who takes on-air confessions from all the crazy people in America. When asked about his literary influences, Stanley Elkin said, "I hope no one else is doing what I'm doing, but I hope that at least I am doing what I'm doing."


It's the birthday of the man who wrote "Puttin' on the Ritz," Irving Berlin, (books by this author) born Israel Baline in Russia (1888).




SATURDAY, 12 MAY, 2007
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Poem: "American Image" by Sebastian Matthews, from We Generous. © Red Hen Press, 2007. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

American Image

I want to be Walker Evans
or Robert Frank setting up shots

in the street—renegades
in Brooks Brothers suits

with Leicas draped on their chests
snapping shots of the downtrodden,

of churches, bits of billboard, bored
debutantes at posh parties

you'd have to fast-talk your way into;
or aboard an ocean liner, itching

to disembark; down in the boiler room
waiting for the foreman to look away

so you can frame his profile
with an arabesque of pipes

and release valves. I'd want to be out
on assignment taking far fewer rolls

than I'm being paid for, down
south alongside sharecroppers

and the sunburnt poor—trying to steal
moments, not souls, to find the past

inside the present, catch the already
falling out of fashion.

Literary and Historical Notes:

It's the birthday of American novelist and poet Rosellen Brown, (books by this author) born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, in 1939. Her novels include Tender Mercies (1978), Before and After (1992), and her latest, Half a Heart (2000).


It's the birthday of Farley Mowat, (books by this author) born in Belleville, Ontario (1921). He wrote his first book about his own dog, called The Dog Who Wouldn't Be, and it was published in 1957. He's best known for his books about the Canadian Arctic. His book Never Cry Wolf became a best-seller when it came out in 1963.


It's the birthday of the man who has been called "the father of nonsense," Edward Lear, (books by this author) born in London, England (1812). He was the 20th of his mother's 21 children, almost half of whom had died in infancy. He was raised by his sister Ann, who taught him at an early age how to paint birds and flowers. He went to school only briefly, and then, as a teenager, began to support himself painting shop signs for local merchants and sketching diseased patients for medical textbooks.

At the time, there was a fad for books of illustrated birds, so Edward Lear got into that business and became one of the most successful bird illustrators in the industry. Among his clients was Charles Darwin, who had Lear illustrate the specimens he brought back from his trip on the H.M.S. Beagle.

But Lear had a lot of problems. He suffered from depression, eye problems, and epilepsy. Despite all his success as a painter and illustrator, he felt like an outcast in respectable British society. Then, in 1832, the Earl of Darby invited Lear to come to his estate and paint all the animals in his private zoo, the largest private zoo in the world at the time. Lear agreed, and when he arrived at the estate, he wound up spending most of his free time with the Earl's grandchildren. Lear had never spent any time with children before, and he found that they brought out a whole different side of his personality. He began acting like a clown for them, singing songs, drawing cartoons, and making up humorous poems. And those humorous nonsense poems became the work that we remember Lear for today. He published his first collection of these poems in 1846, called Book of Nonsense (1846).


It's the birthday of actress Katharine Hepburn, born in Hartford, Connecticut (1907). She became a Hollywood star by not doing anything that Hollywood stars were supposed to do. She didn't wear make-up or dresses, she didn't cooperate with the media, and she had a habit of insulting other people in the business. Her looks were unconventional: she had red hair and freckles and sharp cheekbones. But she was one of the best and most popular actresses of the 20th century. She played smart, sexy, independent women who were always able to get the guy in the end. She was a wisecracker, but she was also graceful and charming. She won four Academy Awards and was nominated for eight more. Her films included Bringing Up Baby (1938), The African Queen (1951), Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967), and On Golden Pond (1981).




SUNDAY, 13 MAY, 2007
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Poem: "Graduation" by Louis Simpson, from The Owner of the House: New Collected Poems 1940-2001. © BOA Editions, Ltd., 2003. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)

Graduation

My ex-wife comes over
and invites me to sit

with them. I say okay.
There are a lot of speeches,

all saying much the same,
about the new generation,

the future belongs to them.
They're lining up for it,

walking onto the stage.
There she is, our Meredith.

The sound of two hands clapping
is mine. If there's one thing I know

it's when something is over and
done with, and it's time to go.

Literary and Historical Notes:

Today is Mother's Day, the day on which we celebrate the women who brought us into the world. The holiday was the idea of a woman named Anna Jarvis, a schoolteacher who had lived with her mother for most of her life. After her mother died, she got the idea to set aside one day a year for the celebration of mothers. She chose the second Sunday in May because that was when her own mother had died. The first Mother's Day celebration was held at Anna Jarvis's church on May 10, 1908, and at the end of the service Anna Jarvis gave each mother a carnation, because carnations had been her mother's favorite flowers. The idea for the holiday spread across the country, and then the U.S. Congress made it official in 1914.

Many writers have depended upon their mothers for inspiration, as well as survival.

Flannery O'Connor moved in with her mother after she was diagnosed with lupus, and she wrote many of her most famous short stories sitting on her mother's front porch.

Gustave Flaubert moved in with his mother after traveling around the Middle East with his wealthy friends. They had suggested that he try to write something about middle class society, and it was his mother's provincial life in the suburbs that helped provide the background for his novel Madame Bovary.

Hunter S. Thompson moved in with his mother after he'd been fired from one job for kicking the candy machine and after he'd quit another job because he didn't want to write about bowling. Living with his mother gave him the freedom to be a freelancer, and it was a freelance article about the Hell's Angels motorcycle gang that made his career.

When the novelist William Maxwell was 10 years old, his mother caught influenza during the epidemic in 1918 and she died. Maxwell wrote, "It happened too suddenly, with no warning, and we none of us could believe it or bear it ... the beautiful, imaginative, protected world of my childhood swept away." He later said that every book he wrote was an attempt to capture that experience. He was once asked in an interview what he would say to his mother if he could talk to her. He replied, "I would say, 'Here are these beautiful books that I made for you.'"

The playwright George Bernard Shaw followed his mother to London when he was 20, hoping to make something of himself. His aunt got him a job at the Edison Telephone Company, but he eventually quit the job to write. His mother supported him with her job as a music teacher. It took 10 years before he began to make a living as a critic and then began to produce the plays that made his name as a writer. He lived with his mother all that time, and she never complained about supporting him. He later said, "My mother worked for my living instead of preaching that it was my duty to work for hers; therefore take off your hat to her and blush."

Mark Twain said, "My mother had a great deal of trouble with me, but I think she enjoyed it."


It's the birthday of novelist and travel writer Bruce Chatwin, (books by this author) born in Sheffield, Yorkshire, England (1940). He made his name with the book In Patagonia (1977).


It's the birthday of novelist Daphne du Maurier, (books by this author) born in London (1907). She spent most of her adult life in Cornwall, known for its stormy, unpredictable weather, and she set many of her books there, including her most famous novel, Rebecca (1938).


It's the birthday of novelist Armistead Maupin, (books by this author) born Armistead Jones in Washington, D.C. (1944). He's famous for his Tales of the City series, which evolved from a regular column he wrote for the San Francisco Chronicle, beginning in 1976. The novels focus on a group of gay and straight characters who share a boarding house in San Francisco.


It's the birthday of one half of the Gilbert and Sullivan opera-writing team, Arthur Seymour Sullivan, born in London in 1842. He wrote the music for Trial by Jury (1875), The Mikado (1885), and The Pirates of Penzance (1879), along with many other operettas.




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