Wednesday, June 27, 2012


June 29, 1613   The Globe Theatre catches fire and burns to the ground during a performance of Shakespeare’s Henry VIII.

June 29, 1861   Elizabeth Barrett Browning dies at home in Florence at the age of 55.

June 30, 1955   James Thurber writes to the New York Post of the ravages of ages: “With sixty staring me in the face, I have developed inflammation of the sentence structure and a definite hardening of the paragraphs.”

July 2, 1961   The winner of the 1954 Nobel Prize for Literature, Ernest Hemingway, dies of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.  Describing how he worked: “When I have an idea, I turn down the flame, as if it were a little alcohol stove, as low as it will go.  Then it explodes and that is my idea.”

July 4, 1845   Henry David Thoreau begins his 26-month stay at Walden Pond: “I went to the woods because I wished to…see if I could not learn what it [life] had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”

July 4, 1855   Walt Whitman, 36, publishes Leaves of Grass at his own expense.  The book does not sell.

Sharon Olds reminds us: “Walt Whitman didn’t sing only as a white man or a gay man.  He didn’t even sing as a living man, as opposed to a dead man.  He made the human race look like a better idea.

July 8, 1822   Percy Bysshe Shelley, 29, drowns while sailing off Viareggio and is cremated on the beach onto which his body is washed.  Strangely, his heart will not burn.  Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley carries it with her in a silken shroud for the rest of her life.

July 10, 1871   Marcel Proust is born in Auteuil, outside Paris, during the turbulent summer of the Paris Commune.  He later will blame his persistent bad health on his mother’s nervousness caused by street violence during her pregnancy.

July 10, 1873   Following an angry quarrel in Brussels, Paul Verlaine discharges a pistol at Arthur Rimbaud, wounding him slightly in the wrist.

You know, you don’t always have a choice of what you’re going to write.  You’re not like a cow that can give cream with one udder and milk with another.  Bruce Duffy

Writing is so difficult that I often feel that writers, having had their hell on earth, will escape all punishment hereafter.  Jessamyn West

I am not a writer except when I write.  Juan Carlos Onetti
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