Know Your History – 26th November – Alice in Wonderland published

know your history - writingOn this day… 26th November, 1865 – Alice in Wonderland published

Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (commonly shortened to Alice in Wonderland) is an 1865 novel written by English author Charles Lutwidge Dodgson under the pseudonym Lewis Carroll. It tells of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as with children. It is considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre. Its narrative course and structure, characters and imagery have been enormously influential in both popular culture and literature, especially in the fantasy genre.

Response to the Writing

After reading Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Queen Victoria, having loved the book, suggested that Carroll dedicate his next book to her! And so, his next work, An Elementary Treatise on Determinants, With Their Lewis Carroll_Alice in Wonderland_different yesterdayApplication to Simultaneous Linear Equations and Algebraic Equations, was presented to the Queen – perhaps not quite what she’d had in mind…

In 1890 Lewis Carroll released a shortened version of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland for smaller children aged “from nought to five”. It includes 20 of John Tenniel’s illustrations from the original book coloured, enlarged and, in some cases, revised.

Did you know?

The novels were banned in China in 1931

On the grounds that “animals should not use human language”.

Know Your History – 25th November – Charlaine Harris born

know your history - writingOn this day… 25th November, 1951 – Charlaine Harris born

Charlaine Harris Schulz (born November 25, 1951) is an American New York Times bestselling author who has been writing mysteries for thirty years. She was born and raised in the Mississippi River Delta area of the United States. She now lives in southern Arkansas with her husband and three children. Though her early work consisted largely of poems about ghosts and, later, teenage angst, she began writing plays when she attended Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee. She began to write books a few years later. Her later books have been in the urban fantasy genre. She is best known for The Southern Vampire Mysteries series, which HBO later adapted for its dramatic series entitled True Blood.

On WritingCharlaine Harris - Books - vacation

When asked what her daily schedule was like Harris says that given all the demands on her time she doesn’t really have a set schedule.  Her ideal day is getting into her office at 8:00am, writing 6 pages by early afternoon, dealing with other matters until around 3:30 or 4:00pm and then reading for a while before making dinner. You can read the full interview here.

Did You Know?

Harris has her own vampire teeth

“Once I knew it was possible to get such a thing, I couldn’t rest until I had my own fangs”, Harris told Crescent Blues during an interview. Her fangs are lateral incisors and were especially made for her by the Count of Montrose (Harris).

Know Your History – 24th November – Frances Eliza Hodgson Burnett born

know your history - writingOn this day… 24th November, 1849 – Frances Eliza Hodgson Burnett born

Frances Eliza Hodgson Burnett (24 November 1849 – 29 October 1924) was an American-English writer of plays and prose fiction. She is best known for the three children’s novels Little Lord Fauntleroy (published in 1885–1886), A Little Princess (1905), and The Secret Garden (1911).

On Writing

Frances Eliza Hodgson Burnett began to write to earn money for her impoverished family. Frances wrote and wrote and wrote; many of her adult books were best-sellers. She lived a very nice lifestyle and would do anything for her two sons. She once called herself “a pen driving Frances Eliza Hodgson Burnettmachine.” In 1887 she travelled to England with her family and then to Florence where she wrote an early version of the novel that would become A Little Princess, then called Sara Crewe or What Happened at Miss Minchin’s.  She later bought an English mansion whose walled garden inspired The Secret Garden.

Did You Know?

After the death from consumption of her older son Lionel, Frances turned to Spiritualism and Christian Science.

The ideas she learned from these belief systems found their way into her books, especially The Secret Garden, in which Mary Lennox persuades her sick young cousin that he can heal himself though the power of positive thinking.

Note:- At the time of posting you can buy “The Collected Works of Frances Hodgson Burnett: 35 Books and Short Stories in One Volume” E-Book for £1.25 on Amazon.

Know Your History – 23rd November – Areopagitica published

know your history - writingOn this day… 23rd November, 1644 – Areopagitica published

Areopagitica; A speech of Mr. John Milton for the Liberty of Unlicenc’d Printing, to the Parlament of England is a 1644 prose polemical tract by the English poet, scholar, and polemical author John Milton opposing licensing and censorship. Areopagitica is among history’s most influential and impassioned philosophical defences of the principle of a right to freedom of speech and expression. It is regarded as one of the most eloquent defences of press freedom ever written because many of its expressed principles form the basis for modern justifications of that right.

On Books

Milton precedes his argument by discussing the purpose of reading. He mentions that Moses, David, and Paul, were all learned, which reminds his Protestant audience that being learned involves reading “books of all sorts”. He argues that this includes even the “bad” or heretical books, because we can learn from their wrongs and discover what is true by john_milton_good_bookconsidering what is not. Milton’s point is that God endowed every person with the reason, free will, and conscience to judge ideas for themselves, so the ideas in a text should be rejected by the reader’s own choice, not by a licensing authority. Also, the mind is not corrupted simply by encountering falsehood. Milton points out that encountering falsehood can actually lead to virtuous action, such as how St. Paul’s converts had privately and voluntarily burned Ephesian books considered to be “magick”.

 Did You Know?

Milton was quite the ladies’ man

In fact, he was married quite a bit. In 1642 he married Mary Powell, who died in 1652. In 1656 he married Katherine Woodcock, who died in 1658. In 1663 he married Elizabeth Minshull who outlived him. There are indications that living with Milton was not easy. His first wife, who was much younger than him, lived most of their married life separated from her husband.

For this and other interesting facts visit classicbookreader

Know Your History – 22nd November – George Eliot born

know your history - writingOn this day… 22nd November, 1819 – George Eliot born

George Eliot was the pen name of Mary Ann Evans, one of the leading English novelists of the 19th century. Her novels, most famously ‘Middlemarch’, are celebrated for their realism and psychological insights.

On Writing

Considered one of the leading writers of the Victorian era, Eliot is the author of seven novels, including Adam Bede (1859), The Mill on the Floss (1860), Silas Marner (1861), Middlemarch (1871–72), and Daniel Deronda (1876), most of them set in provincial England. She used a male pen name, she said, to ensure her works would be taken seriously. George Eliot_choiceFemale authors were published under their own names during Eliot’s life, but she wanted to escape the stereotype of women only writing light-hearted romances. She also wished to have her fiction judged separately from her already extensive and widely known work as an editor and critic.

Readers in the Victorian era particularly praised her books for their depictions of rural society, for which she drew on her own early experiences, and she shared with Wordsworth the belief that there was much interest and importance in the mundane details of ordinary country lives.

Did You Know?

Queen Victoria sought George Eliot’s autograph for her collection.

Know Your History – 21st November – Voltaire born

know your history - writingOn this day… 21st November, 1694 – Voltaire born

François-Marie Arouet (21 November 1694 – 30 May 1778), known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher famous for his wit, his attacks on the established Catholic Church, and his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and separation of church and state. He was an outspoken advocate of several liberties, despite the risk this placed him in under the strict censorship laws of the time. As a satirical polemicist, he frequently made use of his works to criticize intolerance, religious dogma, and the French institutions of his day.

On Writing

Voltaire was a versatile writer, producing works in almost every literary form, including plays, poems, novels, essays, and historical and scientific works. He wrote more than 20,000 letters and more than 2,000 books and pamphlets.Voltaire_common-sense

The early publication of a satirical poem accusing the Duc d’Orléans of having sex with his own daughter led, not totally unpredictably, to a Voltaire doing a stint in the Bastille. But Voltaire was able to put incarceration to productive use: it was there that he adopted his nom de plume (or perhaps guerre) and wrote his first play, Oedipe, a riff on the Sophoclean tragedy. His most famous work remains Candide, a fiction in which the young titular hero is initiated into the mysteries of philosophical optimism.

Did You Know?

Voltaire had a strained relationship with his father, who discouraged his literary aspirations and tried to force him into a legal career.

Possibly to show his rejection of his father’s values, he dropped his family name and adopted the nom de plume “Voltaire” upon completing his first play in 1718. Voltaire never explained the meaning of his pen name, so scholars can only speculate on its origins.

Know Your History – 20th November – Windows 1.0 released

know your history - writingOn this day… 20th November, 1985 – Windows 1.0 released

Okay so todays fact is not strictly-speaking a literary fact. However there is no denying that windows and technology has completely changed the writing landscape. Today Windows is 30 years old!


Windows 1.0 looked very basic by today’s standards, but it was a huge step for Microsoft. It was the company’s first graphically rich user interface – at this point, only Apple had released anything like it so it was pretty forward-thinking for the time.firefox and windows

Features included drop-down menus, scroll bars, icons and dialogue boxes, and instead of typing in complex commands, you navigated by pointing and clicking. In essence, it’s the same basic user interface that we still use to this day.

You could also switch between programs without having to quit and restart each one – an invaluable timesaver.

It even had its own game, Reversi, a strategy board game for two players.

Did You Know?

Windows 1.0 was received poorly by critics, who felt it did not meet their expectations. In particular, they felt that Windows 1.0 put too much emphasis on mouse input at a time when mouse use was not yet widespread.