The Answer My Friends

What is literature? Most people would answer this with reference to novels or collections of short stories. The Nobel Prize committee took a different view in 2016, causing much debate about this topic. So what did they do that was so controversial? They awarded Bob Dylan the 2016 Nobel Prize in Literature "for having created... Continue Reading →

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Poisons Himself.

On September 20th, 1879 the British Medical Journal published a letter entitled “Gelsemium as a Poison” in which Doyle recounts his use of gelsemium as a treatment for neuralgia (nerve pain). Gelsemium is also called Yellow Jasmine (or Jessamine). This was not something which had been prescribed for him. This was before he had invented Sherlock Holmes, so it... Continue Reading →

Rediscovering a “Lost Work”

The Nag Hammadi library is a collection of early Christian and Gnostic texts discovered near the Upper Egyptian town of Nag Hammadi in 1945. It is comparable to the Dead Sea Scrolls in terms of its literary significance, though less well known. Please note that what follows is a discussion of the texts and their... Continue Reading →

A Very Hungry Success Story.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar is a children's picture book designed, illustrated, and written by Eric Carle. The book features a very hungry caterpillar who eats his way through a wide variety of foodstuffs before going into a cocoon and emerging as a butterfly. It is one of the few childrens books I remember reading as... Continue Reading →

Inventing the Detective

Edgar Allan Poe is known for many things. His poem, The Raven, is up there as one of his most famous works, possibly because it was featured in the very first Treehouse of Horror episode of The Simpsons (brilliantly, in my opinion). Amongst several ‘firsts’ he is considered the first full-time profession writer earning a... Continue Reading →

A Reclusive Genius

There is a stereotype of authors as solo operators who toil away in isolation, driven to create by the work itself more than dreams of financial reward. Like most stereotypes that isn’t always the case, but there are examples who embody it. For this stereotype, I can’t think of a better example than Henry Joseph... Continue Reading →

An Author’s Worst Nightmare

Many authors have destroyed the only copies of their works. James Joyce burned his play, A Brilliant Career; Terry Pratchett had his unfinished works destroyed when he died in accordance with his wishes. Sometimes though, a manuscript is lost by accident and found later (such as Harper Lee's Go Set a Watchman which will feature... Continue Reading →

A Night to Remember

A friend of mine recently reposted a FB article celebrating the 130 year anniversary of the publication of The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Her post reminded me of the extraordinary story of how the book came to be. An American, Joseph Marshall Stoddart (managing editor of the American publication Lippincott's Monthly Magazine),... Continue Reading →

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