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Literature is a term that does not have a universally accepted definition, but which has variably included all written work; writing that possesses literary merit; and language that foregrounds literariness, as opposed to ordinary language. Etymologically the term derives from Latin literatura/litteratura "writing formed with letters", although some definitions include spoken or sung texts. Literature can be classified according to whether it is fiction or non-fiction, and whether it is poetry or prose; it can be further distinguished according to major forms such as the novel, short story or drama; and works are often categorised according to historical periods, or according to their adherence to certain aesthetic features or expectations (genre).

Literature may consist of texts based on factual information (journalistic or non-fiction), a category that may also include polemical works, biographies, and reflective essays, or it may consist of texts based on imagination (such as fiction, poetry, or drama). Literature written in poetry emphasizes the aesthetic and rhythmic qualities of language—such as sound, symbolism, and metre—to evoke meanings in addition to, or in place of, ordinary meanings, while literature written in prose applies ordinary grammatical structure and the natural flow of speech. Literature can also be classified according to historical periods, genres, and political influences. While the concept of genre has broadened over the centuries, in general, a genre consists of artistic works that fall within a certain central theme; examples of genre include romance, mystery, crime, fantasy, erotica, and adventure, among others.

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1819 portrait of Percy Bysshe Shelley by Alfred Clint
History of a Six Weeks' Tour through a part of France, Switzerland, Germany, and Holland; with Letters Descriptive of a Sail Round the Lake of Geneva and of the Glaciers of Chamouni is a travel narrative by the British Romantic authors Mary Shelley and Percy Bysshe Shelley. Published in 1817, it describes two trips taken by Mary, Percy, and Mary's stepsister, Claire Clairmont: one across Europe in 1814, and one to Lake Geneva in 1816. Divided into three sections, the text consists of a journal, four letters, and Percy Shelley's poem "Mont Blanc". Apart from the poem, the text was primarily written and organised by Mary Shelley. In 1840 she revised the journal and the letters, republishing them in a collection of Percy Shelley's writings.

Part of the new genre of the Romantic travel narrative, History of a Six Weeks' Tour exudes spontaneity and enthusiasm; the authors demonstrate their desire to develop a sense of taste and distinguish themselves from those around them. The romantic elements of the work would have hinted at the text's radical politics to nineteenth-century readers. However, the text's frank discussion of politics, including positive references to the French Revolution and praise of Enlightenment philosopher Jean-Jacques Rousseau, was unusual for a travel narrative at the time, particularly one authored primarily by a woman.

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Maya Angelou (born Marguerite Ann Johnson; April 4, 1928) is an American author and poet. She has published seven autobiographies, three books of essays, and several books of poetry, and is credited with a list of plays, movies, and television shows spanning more than fifty years. She has received dozens of awards and over thirty honorary doctoral degrees. Angelou is best known for her series of seven autobiographies, which focus on her childhood and early adult experiences.

With the publication of critically acclaimed I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (1969), Angelou publicly discussed aspects of her personal life. She is respected as a spokesperson of black people and women, and her works have been considered a defense of black culture. Although attempts have been made to ban her books from some US libraries, her works are widely used in schools and universities worldwide. Angelou's major works have been labeled as autobiographical fiction, but many critics have characterized them as autobiographies. She has made a deliberate attempt to challenge the common structure of the autobiography by critiquing, changing, and expanding the genre. Her books center on themes such as racism, identity, family, and travel. Angelou is best known for her autobiographies, but she is also an established poet, although her poems have received mixed reviews.

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Queen of Hearts Mother Goose2.jpg
Credit: W. W. Denslow

"The Queen of Hearts" is a poem based on the characters found on playing cards, by an anonymous author, that was first published in The European Magazine in April 1782. Published alongside three other poems, each on a different suit, "The Queen of Hearts" proved the most popular, and became well known as a nursery rhyme. This illustration is from republication in a 1901 edition of Mother Goose.

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21 September

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