Literary Factoids
  • Elie Wiesel’s Auschwitz novel Night was rejected by twenty American publishers.

    Charles Baudelaire, in all his sartorial splendor

    Charles Baudelaire spent two hours a day getting dressed.

    The genius poet-priest Gerard Manley Hopkins wanted to change his name to Pook Tunks.

    “I am a eunuch,” Gerard Hopkins told his friend and fellow poet Robert Bridges, “but it is for the Kingdom of God’s sake.”

    Pook Tunks?

    Robert Frost had only five poems accepted in his first seventeen years of writing and submitting poetry.

    The poetess Sara Teasdale committed suicide with sleeping pills.

    The poetess Anne Sexton, who sexually abused her older daughter, slowly committed suicide by locking herself in her garage, starting the engine of her car, and inhaling carbon monoxide. She drank vodka all the while as she waited to die.

    “Pouring out liquor is like burning books,” said William Faulkner.

    When Edgar Allen Poe married his cousin Virginia, he was twenty-seven, and she was thirteen. And consumptive.

    René Descartes (1596 – 1650), generally regarded as the first modern philosopher, whose influence on philosophy was monumental, almost never read anything except the Bible and the work of Thomas Aquinas. He called the classics “a waste of time.”

    “A man will turn over half a library to make one book,” said Samuel Johnson, who singlehandedly compiled A Dictionary of the English Language, which took him nearly nine years to complete.

    Thales of Miletus (624 BC – 546 BC), generally considered the father of western philosophy, is believed to have predicted an eclipse of the sun for May 28th, 585 BC.

    Sir Thomas Browne wished that men could produce without intercourse: “Like trees,” he said. Which, however, did not preclude him fathering twelve children.

    Daniel Defoe

    Daniel Defoe, author of Robinson Crusoe, was for many years a hosier.

    John Keats wrote all four of his great odes in one month.

    As an adult, T.S. Eliot powdered his face with greenish make-up — to make himself look as if he were suffering, Edith Stillwell suggested.

    Lord Alfred Tennyson yanked his son out of Cambridge to be his biographer.

    John Milton, author of Paradise Lost, once visited Galileo.

    Baruch Spinoza (1632 – 1677), Dutch philosopher of genius, died at age 44 of tuberculosis, which was aggravated by the glass dust in his lungs from his twenty years of grinding lenses for a living.

    The poet John Masefield, off a ship at 18, worked for a while in a Greenwich Village saloon.

    Sauce-slinger John Masefield





About The Author

The sawed-off shotgun of literary pulp.

2 Responses and Counting...

  • Kevin Faulkner 08.08.2011

    This statement by Browne is often seized upon out of context and ridiculed as he continues-

    ‘Nor is there anything which will more deject his cooled imagination when he shall consider what an odd and unworthy piece of folly he hath committed’..

    As ever Browne’s statements on sex are not to be taken out of context but as Coleridge recommended in a ‘soft and flexible’ sense, as he continues ..-

    ‘I speak not in prejudice against that fair sex but am naturally amorous of all that is beautiful’.

  • I wasn’t ridiculing Sir Thomas Browne, and I wasn’t denigrating him. Nor do I think the full context you helpfully provide really changes anything.

    Thank you for dropping by.

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