Know Your History – 3rd December – Joseph Conrad born

know your history - writingOn this day… 3rd December, 1857 – Joseph Conrad born

Joseph Conrad (born Józef Teodor Konrad Korzeniowski; 3 December 1857 – 3 August 1924) was a Polish-British writer regarded as one of the greatest novelists to write in the English language. He was granted British nationality in 1886 but always considered himself a Pole. Though he did not speak English fluently until he was in his twenties (and always with a marked accent), he was a master prose stylist who brought a distinctly non-English sensibility into English literature. He wrote stories and novels, many with a nautical setting, that depict trials of the human spirit in the midst of an impassive, inscrutable universe.

On Writing

Heart is a psychological masterpiece about the subconscious mind. Influenced by Dante, Conrad takes his readers on an Inferno-like descent into the underworld of human existence—searching for lost idealism, a center that holds, a meaning to life, and the essence of our existence.Joseph Conrad - terror

Conrad explored the boundaries and limits of epistemology: how it is that we know things. How do we know what we know is one of philosophy’s greatest unanswered questions.

Did You Know?

In his twenties, Conrad resolved to kill himself with a gun – but miraculously he survived.

Joseph Conrad was a bit of a gambler in his youth. In 1878, up to his ears in gambling debts, the young Conrad attempted suicide by shooting himself in the chest. The bullet missed his heart, and he lived for the next 46 years, long enough to become one of the most important writers of his generation, with novels such as Heart of DarknessLord JimNostromoVictory, and The Secret Agent earning him the respect of critics and fellow writers.

For this and other interesting facts on Joseph Conrad visit


Know Your History – 2nd December – Ann Patchett born

know your history - writingOn this day… 2nd December, 1963 – Ann Patchett born

Ann Patchett (born December 2, 1963) is an American author. She received the Orange Prize for Fiction and the PEN/Faulkner Award in 2002 for her novel Bel Canto. Patchett’s other novels include Run, The Patron Saint of Liars, Taft, State of Wonder, and The Magician’s Assistant, which was shortlisted for the Orange Prize.

On Writing

Some writing tips from Ann Patchett

  1. Ideas are everywhere. Lift up a big rock and look under it, stare into a window of a house you drive past and dream about what’s going on inside. Read the newspaper, ask your father about his sister, think of something that happened to you or someone you know and then think about it turning out an entirely different way.Ann Patchett - reading
  2. Even if you’re writing a book that jumps around in time, has ten points of view, and is chest-deep in flashbacks, do your best to write it in the order in which it will be read, because it will make the writing, and the later editing, incalculably easier.
  3. One method of revision that I find both loathsome and indispensable is reading my work aloud when I’m finished. There are things I can hear—the repetition of words, a particularly flat sentence—that I don’t otherwise catch.

Did You Know?

A few years ago, Ann Patchett opened an independent bookstore in Nashville called Parnassus.

Know Your History – 1st December – Candace Bushnell born

know your history - writingOn this day… 1st December, 1958 – Candace Bushnell born

Candace Bushnell (born December 1, 1958) is an American novelist and television producer. She wrote a column for The New York Observer (1994–96) that was adapted into the bestselling Sex and the City anthology. The book was the basis for the HBO hit series Sex and the City (1998–2004) and two subsequent movies.

Bushnell followed the best-selling work with the international bestselling novels 4 Blondes (2001), Trading Up (2003), Lipstick Jungle (2005), One Fifth Avenue (2008), The Carrie Diaries (2010) and Summer and the City (2011).

On Writing

Take Inspiration From Reality, Carefully

It’s no secret that Carrie Bradshaw is based on Bushnell, and that many people and events in her other works are also influenced by the Candace Bushnell women fireauthor’s real life. That’s not a bad thing — but, as Bushnell advised, it’s important to remember that fiction and reality do not intersect when taken literally. Putting an actual person on the page rarely works well, because fiction is about creating your own world, with a unique vision and voice that may be inspired — but not entirely based — on real life.

Did You Know?

Bushnell has suffered from depression

In an interview on Oprah when asked the biggest obstacle she had overcome Bushnell responds,

“Depression. Stone cold depression where you cannot get out of bed and you’re convinced you have a horrible disease and spend all your time writing half-baked suicide notes. And, of course, nobody can tell you what’s wrong with you. But that was

Know Your History – 30th November – Jonathan Swift born

know your history - writingOn this day… 30th November, 1667 – Jonathan Swift born

Jonathan Swift (30 November 1667 – 19 October 1745) was an Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist, political pamphleteer (first for the Whigs, then for the Tories), poet and cleric who became Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin.

Swift is remembered for works such as Gulliver’s Travels, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, Drapier’s Letters, The Battle of the Books, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity and A Tale of a Tub.

On Writing

Swift published A Tale of a Tub and The Battle of the Books (1704) and began to gain a reputation as a writer. This led to close, lifelong friendships with Alexander Pope, John Gay, and John Arbuthnot, forming the core of the Martinus Scriblerus Club (founded in 1713).Jonathan Swift - vision.PNG

Swift later began to turn his pamphleteering skills in support of Irish causes, producing some of his most memorable works: Proposal for Universal Use of Irish Manufacture (1720), Drapier’s Letters (1724), and A Modest Proposal (1729), earning him the status of an Irish patriot.[20] This new role was unwelcome to the Government, which made clumsy attempts to silence him.

During these years, Swift began writing his masterpiece, Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts, by Lemuel Gulliver, first a surgeon, and then a captain of several ships, better known as Gulliver’s Travels.

 Did You Know?

There are almost no certain facts about Swift’s personal life that we would be completely sure of.

The work of his biographers should certainly be a painful one, for the simple reason that they have to work with very inadequate amounts of information. Mystery surrounds not only his writing (some of his works are so strange that it is virtually impossible to establish any objective truths as to what they, in fact, mean), but his life as well. What exactly were his relationships with women he nicknames “Stella” and “Vanessa”, was he married to either of them, was he really kidnapped by his wet-nurse when he was a child, was his mother’s husband, who died before his birth, really his father – nobody can answer these questions for sure.

Know Your History – 29th November – C.S. Lewis born

know your history - writingOn this day… 29th November, 1898 – C.S. Lewis born

Clive Staples Lewis (29 November 1898 – 22 November 1963) was a British novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, broadcaster, lecturer, and Christian apologist. He held academic positions at both Oxford University (Magdalen College), 1925–54, and Cambridge University (Magdalene College), 1954–63.

Lewis is best known for his fictional work, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space Trilogy, and for his non-fiction Christian apologetics, such as Mere Christianity, Miracles, and The Problem of Pain.

On Writing

It is said that nearly every morning Lewis spent at least an hour reading the mail he received and crafting thoughtful and detailed replies. A selection of these replies are gathered together in the beautiful collection C.S. Lewis’ Letters to Children, edited by Lyle W. Dorset and Marjorie Lamp Mead and first published in 1985.

In one of these replies Lewis shared some very practical writing advice with an aspiring young American writer named Joan Lancaster.

  1. Always try to use the language so as to make quite clear what you mean and make sure your sentence couldn’t mean anything else.
  2. Always prefer the plain direct word to the long, vague one. Don’t implement promises, but keep them.cs lewis quote - hardships
  3. Never use abstract nouns when concrete ones will do. If you mean “More people died” don’t say “Mortality rose.”
  4. In writing. Don’t use adjectives which merely tell us how you want us to feelabout the thing you are describing. I mean, instead of telling us a thing was “terrible,” describe it so that we’ll be terrified. Don’t say it was “delightful”; make ussay “delightful” when we’ve read the description. You see, all those words (horrifying, wonderful, hideous, exquisite) are only like saying to your readers “Please will you do my job for me.”
  5. Don’t use words too big for the subject. Don’t say “infinitely” when you mean “very”; otherwise you’ll have no word left when you want to talk about something reallyinfinite.

 Did You Know?

J.R.R. Tolkien did not like the Narnia stories.

Lewis and fellow novelist J. R. R. Tolkien were close friends. They both served on the English faculty at Oxford University, and were active in the informal Oxford literary group known as the Inklings. Despite being good friends J.R.R. Tolkien did not like the Narnia stories. Tolkien did not like the Christian allegory, nor did he like the mixing of myths. It appeared he was fond of Aslan though.


**Phew – I can’t believe I nearly missed todays KYH post and its an amazing author whose work I adore.

I must say today’s quote is also one I think I will cherish. In fact it reminds me of a very inspirational young man who has recently began blogging on wordpress. His story is amazing and there are very few words to describe it – but his own are certainly the best he was attacked by a youth who “rammed a 10 inch screwdriver through my temple, so deep that the handle shattered my skull”..he had “brain surgery to remove the shards of skull left in the destructive wake of the screwdriver, I was not expected to survive. If in the unlikely event I did, I was expected to become a persistent vegetable.” …”When I awoke from my month long coma, I couldn’t speak, sit up, and was paralysed down one side.”

…”To cut a long story short (it seems like an eternity), I’ve defied all predictions and done the opposite of what was expected.. My motto has always been “I REFUSE TO LOSE” – ’nuff said! I’ve broken just about every rule in the medical profession, including dying being the end of your life. It was the beginning of mine and I wouldn’t change a thing”

So for those who haven’t come across his amazing inspiring blog yet I truly urge you to pop over to Nick’s Blog – – it is probably one of the best blogs to be found on wordpress that will restore your faith in the human spirit and human courage. His story is proof that “Hardships often prepare ordinary people  for an extraordinary destiny.”

Enjoy. KL 🙂

Know Your History – 28th November – William Blake Born

know your history - writingOn this day… 28th November, 1757 – William Blake born

William Blake (28 November 1757 – 12 August 1827) was an English poet, painter, and printmaker. Largely unrecognised during his lifetime, Blake is now considered a seminal figure in the history of the poetry and visual arts of the Romantic Age.

On Writing

As a writer and thinker Blake espoused the value of humanity and played a crucial role in developing our understanding of the ‘sixth sense’ of imagination. “If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is, infinite”, he said in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell, influencing the writer Aldous Huxley and a certain LA rock band called The Doors among others. Throughout his life, Blake championed the imagination, and its power.William Blake Quote

So radical were his thoughts that many considered him mad. A view not helped by Blake’s claims to have seen visions from an early age of God, various angels and, on one occasion, Satan himself, in an encounter on the staircase of his South Molton Street home.

Did You Know?

Blake could be called the first graphic novelist

Blake married pictures and words together in a single process on one printing plate, developing new techniques to do so. He taught himself to write backwards, so he could work straight onto the copper plate. And, to open up the very strangest side of Blake, he claimed that one of his revolutionary techniques was dictated to him by his dead brother in a vision.

Know Your History – 27th November – Frederic Warburg born

know your history - writingOn this day… 27th November, 1898 – Fredric Warburg born

Fredric John Warburg (27 November 1898 – 25 May 1981) was a British publisher best known for his association with the author George Orwell. During a career spanning a large part of the 20th century and ending in 1971 Warburg published Orwell’s Animal Farm (1945) as well as Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949), as well as works by other leading figures such as Thomas Mann and Franz Kafka. Other notable publications included The Third Eye by “Lobsang Rampa,” Pierre Boulle’s The Bridge over the River Kwai, Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kampf and William Shirer’s The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.

On Publishing

Secker & Warburg. The firm became renowned for its independent left-wing position, being both anti-fascist and anti-Communist, which put it at loggerheads with many intellectuals of the time. Among the books the firm published were C. L. R. James’s World Revolution, Reg Groves’s We Shall Rise Again, Boris Souvarine’s Stalin and André Gide’s Back from the USSR. When George Orwell parted company with Victor Gollancz over 1984 published - George Orwellpublication of The Road to Wigan Pier it was to Secker & Warburg that he took his next book, Homage to Catalonia. The firm published all of Orwell’s books from then on, and he and Warburg became intimate friends.

In 1940 Warburg introduced Orwell to another of his firm’s authors, T. R. Fyvel and between the three of them they planned the creation of Searchlight Books.

Did You Know?

In 1954 Secker & Warburg was prosecuted for obscenity after publishing The Philanderer, a novel by Stanley Kauffmann

Warburg was offered the chance to plead guilty and escape with a minimal fine, but opted for trial by jury at the Old Bailey. The book was found not to be obscene and the summary by the presiding judge at the trial, Sir Wintringham Stable, was added as an appendix to later editions of The Philanderer.