Know Your History – 15th June – Brian Jacques born

know your history - writing

On this day… 15th June, 1939 – Brian Jacques born

James Brian Jacques (15 June 1939 – 5 February 2011) was an English writer best known for his Redwall series of novels and Castaways of the Flying Dutchman series. He also completed two collections of short stories entitled The Ribbajack & Other Curious Yarns and Seven Strange and Ghostly Tales. His novels have sold more than twenty million copies worldwide and have been published in twenty-eight languages

About the Writing

Jacques showed early writing talent.

At age 10, assigned to write an animal story, he wrote about a bird that cleaned a crocodile’s teeth. His teacher could not believe that a 10-year-old wrote it, and caned the boy for refusing to admit copying the story.

He had always loved to write, but only then did he realize the extent of his abilities.

Jacques was known to prefer old-fashioned ways; he always preferred an old typewriter as being more reliable than a computer. He allowed an animated television series to be produced on which he introduced himself each episode on PBS and answered children’s questions after the cartoon ended.Brian Jacques

Did You Know?..

Jacques worked with his local school for the blind, The Royal School in Liverpool one of the reasons given for why his books are so descriptive.

Know Your History – 13th June – WB Yeats born

know your history - writingOn this day… 13th June, 1865 – WB Yeats born


Today is the 150th Anniversary.

William Butler Yeats was an Irish poet and one of the foremost figures of 20th century literature. A pillar of both the Irish and British literary establishments, in his later years he served as an Irish Senator for two terms.

About the Writing

WB Yeats was the first Irishman to be awarded the Nobel Prize in 1923 “for his always inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation”.

Yeats was a traditionalist who wrote sonnets for half a century. wb yeatsHis knowledge of English form, Irish literature and Celtic mythology – inspired in part by summers at his mother’s home in County Sligo in the west of Ireland – resulted in an inspired body of work. If he had stopped at the end of the 19th Century he would have an impressive collection of nostalgic, pastoral poetry – but thankfully he didn’t, for his work in the 20th Century helped usher in modernism – and create a new language to understand modernity’s terror and beauty. It is this contribution that continues to resonate with poets today.

Did You Know?..

Yeats was fascinated by the occult and mysticism.

He joined the Golden Dawn, a secret society which practiced ritual magic, in 1890, progressing to its Inner Order in 1893, and remained an active member for most of his life. He also joined paranormal research organisation The Ghost Club in 1911.

So, think you know Yeats? Why not try the Guardian’s quiz – here.