Literature is any collection of written work, but it is also used more narrowly for writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry. In recent centuries, the definition has expanded to include oral literature, much of which has been transcribed. Literature is a method of recording, preserving, and transmitting knowledge and entertainment, and can also have a social, psychological, spiritual, or political role.
Literature, as an art form, can also include works in various non-fiction genres, such as biography, diaries, memoir, letters, and essays. Within its broad definition, literature includes non-fictional books, articles or other printed information on a particular subject. (Full article...)
General images -
Ivan Bilibin's illustration of the Russian fairy tale about Vasilisa the Beautiful (from Fairy tale)
Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Hansel and Gretel. (from Fairy tale)Cutlery for children. Detail showing fairy-tale scenes:
César Vallejo, considered by Thomas Merton "the greatest universal poet since Dante" (from Latin American literature)Peruvian poet
codex bound in wood and leather with brass plaques worked the corners and in the center, with clasps. (from Medieval literature)Statuta Mutine Reformata, 1420–1485; parchment
The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (from Children's literature)Statue of C. S. Lewis in front of the wardrobe from his Narnia book
Gabrielle Roy was a notable French Canadian author. (from Canadian literature)
Walter Crane's chromolithograph illustration for The Frog Prince, 1874. (from Children's literature)
Botticelli's Madonna of the Book (1480) reflects the presence of books in the houses of richer people in his time. (from History of books)The scene in
The Story of Mankind (1921) by Hendrik van Loon, 1st Newbery Award winner (from Children's literature)
Hop-o'-My-Thumb and the ogre in an 1865 illustration (from Fairy tale)
Jean Miélot writing his compilation of the Miracles of Our Lady, one of his many popular works. (from History of books)An author portrait of
Great Seal script style. The modern character is 詩/诗 (shī). (from History of poetry)The character which means "poetry", in the ancient Chinese
Little Red Riding Hood and the Wolf in a painting Carl Larsson in 1881. (from Fairy tale)The European fairy tale
Albert Camus was the first African-born writer to receive the award. (from Nobel Prize in Literature)French author
The Adventures of Pinocchio (1883) is a canonical piece of children's literature and one of the best-selling books ever published. (from Children's literature)
Charles G. D. Roberts was a poet that belonged to an informal group known as the Confederation Poets. (from Canadian literature)
Canadian Parliamentary Poet Laureate George Elliott Clarke (2015) (from Canadian literature)The former
Rabindranath Tagore illus. by Nandalal Bose, Macmillan 1913 (from Children's literature)The Crescent Moon by
Dresden Codex (page 49) (from History of books)
performs at a bookstore in Boise, Idaho. (from Performance poetry)H. O. Tanager
Roberto Bolaño is considered to have had the greatest United States impact of any post-Boom author (from Latin American literature)
Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris. (from History of books)Jikji, Selected Teachings of Buddhist Sages and Seon Masters, the earliest known book printed with movable metal type, 1377.
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, 1865 (from Children's literature)Illustration from
Tagore illustration of a Hindu myth (from Children's literature)A
Alfonso Reyes writer of influential pieces of Mexican surrealism. (from Latin American literature)
codex. Wall painting from Pompeii, before 79 CE. (from History of books)Woman holding wax tablets in the form of the
Shanamah (Book of Kings) (from History of books)Folio from a manuscript of the
Shah Jahan (from History of books)Folio from the Shah Jahan Album, c. 1620, depicting the Mughal Emperor
Peter Pan statue in Kensington Gardens, London (from Children's literature)
John Bauer's illustration of trolls and a princess from a collection of Swedish fairy tales (from Fairy tale)
Walk of Ideas, commemorating the invention of modern book printing (from History of books)12-metre-high (40 ft) stack of books sculpture at the Berlin
The Violet Fairy Book (1906)
Sully Prudhomme (1839–1907) was the first person to be awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, "in special recognition of his poetic composition, which gives evidence of lofty idealism, artistic perfection and a rare combination of the qualities of both heart and intellect." (from Nobel Prize in Literature)In 1901, French poet and essayist
Orbis Pictus by Comenius, the first children's picture book. (from Children's literature)A late 18th-century reprint of
Sumerian clay tablet, currently housed in the Oriental Institute at the University of Chicago, inscribed with the text of the poem Inanna and Ebih by the priestess Enheduanna, the first author whose name is knownA
Gabriel García Márquez, the most famous of the Boom writers (from Latin American literature)
Willy Wonka (from Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory), and the Mad Hatter (from Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland) in London (from Children's literature)
Short story writer Alice Munro won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2013. (from Canadian literature)
Calliope, the muse of heroic poetry (from History of poetry)
Gustave Doré of Mother Goose reading written (literary) fairy tales (from Fairy tale)A picture by
Book of the Dead of Hunefer, c. 1275 BCE, ink and pigments on papyrus, in the British Museum (London) (from History of books)The
The Story of Little Black Sambo (from Children's literature)1900 edition of the controversial
Christopher Columbus on a Latin edition of The Travels of Marco Polo (from Travel literature)Handwritten notes by
Galway Kinnell performing a poetic piece in Vermont (from Performance poetry)
hornbook pictured in Tuer's History of the Horn-Book, 1896. (from Children's literature)An early Mexican
Jessie Willcox Smith in a cover illustration of a volume of fairy tales written in the mid to late 19th century. (from Children's literature)A mother reads to her children, depicted by
J. K. Rowling reads from her novel Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (from Children's literature)
Octavio Paz helped to define modern poetry and the Mexican personality. (from Latin American literature)
Codex Manesse, a German book from the Middle Ages (from History of books)The
Minnie the Minx, a character from The Beano. Launched in 1938, the comic is known for its anarchic humour, with Dennis the Menace appearing on the cover. (from Children's literature)Statue of
Beauty and the Beast, illustration by Warwick Goble (from Fairy tale)
A Little Pretty Pocket-Book, originally published in 1744 (from Children's literature)Newbery's
Father Frost, testing the heroine before bestowing riches upon her (from Fairy tale)Father Frost acts as a donor in the Russian fairy tale
Albert Edelfelt's illustration of Adalmina's Pearl, a Finnish fairy tale by Zachris Topelius. (from Fairy tale)
Kinder- und Haus-Märchen by the Brothers Grimm (from Children's literature)Pages from the 1819 edition of
Mahavira, c. 1400 (from History of books)Page from a Jain manuscript depicting the birth of
Incunable. Notice the blind-tooled cover, corner bosses, and clasps. (from History of books)A 15th-century
Ulysses" is a poem in blank verse by the Victorian poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809–1892), written in 1833 and published in 1842 in his well-received second volume of poetry. An oft-quoted poem, it is popularly used to illustrate the dramatic monologue form. Ulysses describes, to an unspecified audience, his discontent and restlessness upon returning to his kingdom, Ithaca, after his far-ranging travels. Facing old age, Ulysses yearns to explore again, despite his reunion with his wife Penelope and son Telemachus.
The character of Ulysses (in Greek, Odysseus) has been explored widely in literature. The adventures of Odysseus were first recorded in Homer's Iliad and Odyssey (c. 800–700 BC), and Tennyson draws on Homer's narrative in the poem. Most critics, however, find that Tennyson's Ulysses recalls Dante's Ulisse in his Inferno (c. 1320). In Dante's re-telling, Ulisse is condemned to hell among the false counsellors, both for his pursuit of knowledge beyond human bounds and for his adventures in disregard of his family.
For much of this poem's history, readers viewed Ulysses as resolute and heroic, admiring him for his determination "To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield". The view that Tennyson intended a heroic character is supported by his statements about the poem, and by the events in his life—the death of his closest friend—that prompted him to write it. In the twentieth century, some new interpretations of "Ulysses" highlighted potential ironies in the poem. They argued, for example, that Ulysses wishes to selfishly abandon his kingdom and family, and they questioned more positive assessments of Ulysses' character by demonstrating how he resembles flawed protagonists in earlier literature.
Du Fu (Chinese: 杜甫; Wade–Giles: Tu Fu; 712–770) was a Chinese poet and politician during the Tang dynasty. Along with his elder contemporary and friend Li Bai (Li Po), he is frequently called the greatest of the Chinese poets. His greatest ambition was to serve his country as a successful civil servant, but he proved unable to make the necessary accommodations. His life, like the whole country, was devastated by the An Lushan Rebellion of 755, and his last 15 years were a time of almost constant unrest.
Although initially he was little-known to other writers, his works came to be hugely influential in both Chinese and Japanese literary culture. Of his poetic writing, nearly fifteen hundred poems have been preserved over the ages. He has been called the "Poet-Historian" and the "Poet-Sage" by Chinese critics, while the range of his work has allowed him to be introduced to Western readers as "the Chinese Virgil, Horace, Ovid, Shakespeare, Milton, Burns, Wordsworth, Béranger, Hugo or Baudelaire". (Full article...)
Ion Heliade Rădulescu or Ion Heliade (also known as Eliade or Eliade Rădulescu; Romanian pronunciation: [ˈi.on heliˈade rəduˈlesku]; January 6, 1802 – April 27, 1872) was a Wallachian, later Romanian academic, Romantic and Classicist poet, essayist, memoirist, short story writer, newspaper editor and politician. A prolific translator of foreign literature into Romanian, he was also the author of books on linguistics and history. For much of his life, Heliade Rădulescu was a teacher at Saint Sava College in Bucharest, which he helped reopen. He was a founding member and first president of the Romanian Academy.
Heliade Rădulescu is considered one of the foremost champions of Romanian culture from the first half of the 19th century, having first risen to prominence through his association with Gheorghe Lazăr and his support of Lazăr's drive for discontinuing education in Greek. Over the following decades, he had a major role in shaping the modern Romanian language, but caused controversy when he advocated the massive introduction of Italian neologisms into the Romanian lexis. A Romantic nationalist landowner siding with moderate liberals, Heliade was among the leaders of the 1848 Wallachian revolution, after which he was forced to spend several years in exile. Adopting an original form of conservatism, which emphasized the role of the aristocratic boyars in Romanian history, he was rewarded for supporting the Ottoman Empire and clashed with the radical wing of the 1848 revolutionaries. (Full article...)
Edgar Allan Poe (né Edgar Poe; January 19, 1809 – October 7, 1849) was an American writer, poet, editor, and literary critic who is best known for his poetry and short stories, particularly his tales of mystery and the macabre. He is widely regarded as a central figure of Romanticism in the United States, and of American literature. He was one of the country's earliest practitioners of the short story, and is considered the inventor of the detective fiction genre, as well as a significant contributor to the emerging genre of science fiction. He is the first well-known American writer to earn a living through writing alone, resulting in a financially difficult life and career.
Poe was born in Boston, the second child of actors David and Elizabeth "Eliza" Poe. His father abandoned the family in 1810, and when his mother died the following year, Poe was taken in by John and Frances Allan of Richmond, Virginia. They never formally adopted him, but he was with them well into young adulthood. He attended the University of Virginia but left after a year due to lack of money. He quarreled with John Allan over the funds for his education, and his gambling debts. In 1827, having enlisted in the United States Army under an assumed name, he published his first collection, Tamerlane and Other Poems, credited only to "a Bostonian". Poe and Allan reached a temporary rapprochement after the death of Allan's wife in 1829. Poe later failed as an officer cadet at West Point, declared a firm wish to be a poet and writer, and parted ways with Allan. (Full article...)
Ezra Weston Loomis Pound (30 October 1885 – 1 November 1972) was an expatriate American poet and critic, a major figure in the early modernist poetry movement, and a fascist collaborator in Italy during World War II. His works include Ripostes (1912), Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (1920), and his 800-page epic poem, The Cantos (c. 1917–1962).
Pound's contribution to poetry began in the early 20th century with his role in developing Imagism, a movement stressing precision and economy of language. Working in London as foreign editor of several American literary magazines, he helped discover and shape the work of contemporaries such as T. S. Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, and James Joyce. He was responsible for the 1914 serialization of Joyce's A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the 1915 publication of Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", and the serialization from 1918 of Joyce's Ulysses. Hemingway wrote in 1932 that, for poets born in the late 19th or early 20th century, not to be influenced by Pound would be "like passing through a great blizzard and not feeling its cold." (Full article...)
Mário Raul de Morais Andrade (October 9, 1893 – February 25, 1945) was a Brazilian poet, novelist, musicologist, art historian and critic, and photographer. He wrote one of the first and most influential collections of modern Brazilian poetry, Paulicéia Desvairada (Hallucinated City), published in 1922. He has had considerable influence on modern Brazilian literature, and as a scholar and essayist—he was a pioneer of the field of ethnomusicology—his influence has reached far beyond Brazil.
Andrade was a central figure in the avant-garde movement of São Paulo for twenty years. Trained as a musician and best known as a poet and novelist, Andrade was personally involved in virtually every discipline that was connected with São Paulo modernism. His photography and essays on a wide variety of subjects, from history to literature and music, were widely published. He was the driving force behind the Modern Art Week, the 1922 event that reshaped both literature and the visual arts in Brazil, and a member of the avant-garde "Group of Five." The ideas behind the Week were further explored in the preface to his poetry collection Pauliceia Desvairada, and in the poems themselves. (Full article...)
Robert Marshall (January 2, 1901 – November 11, 1939) was an American forester, writer and wilderness activist who is best remembered as the person who spearheaded the 1935 founding of the Wilderness Society in the United States. Marshall developed a love for the outdoors as a young child. He was an avid hiker and climber who visited the Adirondack Mountains frequently during his youth, ultimately becoming one of the first Adirondack Forty-Sixers. He also traveled to the Brooks Range of the far northern Alaskan wilderness. He wrote numerous articles and books about his travels, including the bestselling 1933 book Arctic Village.
A scientist with a PhD in plant physiology, Marshall became independently wealthy after the death of his father in 1929. He had started his outdoor career in 1925 as forester with the U.S. Forest Service. He used his financial independence for expeditions to Alaska and other wilderness areas. Later he held two significant public appointed posts: chief of forestry in the Bureau of Indian Affairs, from 1933 to 1937, and head of recreation management in the Forest Service, from 1937 to 1939, both during the administration of President Franklin D. Roosevelt. During this period, he directed the promulgation of regulations to preserve large areas of roadless land that were under federal management. Many years after his death, some of those areas were permanently protected from development, exploitation, and mechanization with the passage of the Wilderness Act of 1964. (Full article...)
Jorge Mario Pedro Vargas Llosa, 1st Marquess of Vargas Llosa (born 28 March 1936), more commonly known as Mario Vargas Llosa (/ˌvɑːrɡəs ˈjoʊsə/, Spanish: [ˈmaɾjo ˈβaɾɣas ˈʎosa]), is a Peruvian novelist, journalist, essayist and former politician, who also holds citizenship of Spain and the Dominican Republic. Vargas Llosa is one of Latin America's most significant novelists and essayists, and one of the leading writers of his generation. Some critics consider him to have had a larger international impact and worldwide audience than any other writer of the Latin American Boom. In 2010 he won the Nobel Prize in Literature, "for his cartography of structures of power and his trenchant images of the individual's resistance, revolt, and defeat." He also won the 1967 Rómulo Gallegos Prize, the 1986 Prince of Asturias Award, the 1994 Miguel de Cervantes Prize, the 1995 Jerusalem Prize, the 2012 Carlos Fuentes International Prize, and the 2018 Pablo Neruda Order of Artistic and Cultural Merit. In 2021, he was elected to the Académie française.
Vargas Llosa rose to international fame in the 1960s with novels such as The Time of the Hero (La ciudad y los perros, literally The City and the Dogs, 1963/1966), The Green House (La casa verde, 1965/1968), and the monumental Conversation in the Cathedral (Conversación en la catedral, 1969/1975). He writes prolifically across an array of literary genres, including literary criticism and journalism. His novels include comedies, murder mysteries, historical novels, and political thrillers. Several, such as Captain Pantoja and the Special Service (1973/1978) and Aunt Julia and the Scriptwriter (1977/1982), have been adapted as feature films. (Full article...)
Joanne Rowling CH OBE FRSL (/ˈroʊlɪŋ/ "rolling"; born 31 July 1965), best known by her pen name J. K. Rowling, is a British author and philanthropist. She wrote Harry Potter, a seven-volume children's fantasy series published from 1997 to 2007. The series has sold over 600 million copies, been translated into 84 languages, and spawned a global media franchise including films and video games. The Casual Vacancy (2012) was her first novel for adults. She writes Cormoran Strike, an ongoing crime fiction series, under the alias Robert Galbraith.
Born in Yate, Gloucestershire, Rowling was working as a researcher and bilingual secretary for Amnesty International in 1990 when she conceived the idea for the Harry Potter series while on a delayed train from Manchester to London. The seven-year period that followed saw the death of her mother, the birth of her first child, divorce from her first husband, and relative poverty until the first novel in the series, Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, was published in 1997. Six sequels followed, and by 2008, Forbes had named her the world's highest-paid author. (Full article...)
Chinua Achebe (/ˈtʃɪnwɑː əˈtʃɛbeɪ/ (listen); born Albert Chinụalụmọgụ Achebe; 16 November 1930 – 21 March 2013) was a Nigerian novelist, poet, and critic who is regarded as a central figure of modern African literature. His first novel and magnum opus, Things Fall Apart (1958), occupies a pivotal place in African literature and remains the most widely studied, translated, and read African novel. Along with Things Fall Apart, his No Longer at Ease (1960) and Arrow of God (1964) complete the "African Trilogy"; later novels include A Man of the People (1966) and Anthills of the Savannah (1987). In the West, Achebe is often referred to as the "father of African literature", although he vigorously rejected the characterization.
Born in Ogidi, Colonial Nigeria, Achebe's childhood was influenced by both Igbo traditional culture and postcolonial Christianity. He excelled in school and attended what is now the University of Ibadan, where he became fiercely critical of how Western literature depicted Africa. Moving to Lagos after graduation, he worked for the Nigerian Broadcasting Service (NBS) and garnered international attention for his 1958 novel Things Fall Apart. In less than 10 years he would publish four further novels through the publisher Heinemann, with whom he began the Heinemann African Writers Series and galvanized the careers of African writers, such as Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o and Flora Nwapa. (Full article...)
William Shakespeare (bapt. 26 April 1564 – 23 April 1616) was an English playwright, poet and actor. He is regarded as the greatest writer in the English language and the world's pre-eminent dramatist. He is often called England's national poet and the "Bard of Avon" (or simply "the Bard"). His extant works, including collaborations, consist of some 39 plays, 154 sonnets, three long narrative poems, and a few other verses, some of uncertain authorship. His plays have been translated into every major living language and are performed more often than those of any other playwright. He remains arguably the most influential writer in the English language, and his works continue to be studied and reinterpreted.
Shakespeare was born and raised in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. At the age of 18, he married Anne Hathaway, with whom he had three children: Susanna, and twins Hamnet and Judith. Sometime between 1585 and 1592, he began a successful career in London as an actor, writer, and part-owner of a playing company called the Lord Chamberlain's Men, later known as the King's Men. At age 49 (around 1613), he appears to have retired to Stratford, where he died three years later. Few records of Shakespeare's private life survive; this has stimulated considerable speculation about such matters as his physical appearance, his sexuality, his religious beliefs and whether the works attributed to him were written by others. (Full article...)
|“||Reader, I think proper, before we proceed any farther together, to acquaint thee that I intend to digress, through this whole history, as often as I see occasion, of which I am myself a better judge than any pitiful critic whatever; and here I must desire all those critics to mind their own business, and not to intermeddle with affairs or works which no ways concern them; for till they produce the authority by which they are constituted judges, I shall not plead to their jurisdiction.||”|
|— Henry Fielding, The History of Tom Jones, a Foundling|
More Did you know
- ... that Mei Ze's forgery of Kong Anguo's compilation of the Book of Documents was officially recognized as a Confucian classic for over 1000 years?
- ... that, although Ernest Hemingway wrote many words, he probably didn't write "For sale: baby shoes, never worn"?
- ... that Goodnight Mister Tom, which is an adaptation of the children's novel of the same name, won the Olivier Award for Best Entertainment at the 2013 Olivier Awards?
- ... that the 17th-century English poet Thomas Jordan wrote one poem that was widely anthologized in the 20th century, even though his poetry had been disdained by his contemporaries?
- ... that in his book In Secret Tibet, author Theodore Illion relates how he twice saw what he called "flying lamas" who could supposedly sit on an ear of barley without bending its stalk?
- Artist: Jessie Willcox Smith; Restoration: ErikTheBikeManMrs. Bedonebyasyoudid, a character named after the Golden Rule, from The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby, a children's novel by Charles Kingsley. Published in 1863, the book was extremely popular in England, and was a mainstay of British children's literature for many decades. The book had been intended in part as a satire, a tract against child labour, as well as a serious critique of the closed-minded approaches of many scientists of the day in their response to Charles Darwin's ideas on evolution.
- Illustration credit: Henry Holiday, after Lewis Carroll; restored by Adam CuerdenThe Hunting of the Snark is a poem composed by the English writer Lewis Carroll between 1874 and 1876, typically characterised as a nonsense poem. The plot follows a crew of ten who cross the ocean to hunt the Snark, which may turn out to be a highly dangerous Boojum. This is the second of Henry Holiday's original illustrations for the first edition of the poem. It introduces some of the crew, whose names all start with "B"; the Bellman and Baker are on the upper deck, with the Barrister seated in the background; below are the Billiard-marker, the Banker and the Broker, with the maker of Bonnets and Hoods visible behind.
- Artist: George Pickering, Engraver: William Greatbatch; Restoration: Adam CuerdenOne of the two earliest illustrations of Jane Austen's novel Pride and Prejudice, which was first published on January 28, 1813. This engraving comes from the first illustrated edition, published twenty years later, and depicts Elizabeth Bennet (the main protagonist, right) and her father, in fashions that were common in the 1830s, not the story's original time setting. The novel is told from Bennet's point of view and deals with issues of manners, upbringing, moral rightness, education and marriage in the aristocratic society of early 19th century England. The novel retains a fascination for modern readers, having sold some 20 million copies worldwide and continuing near the top of lists of 'most loved books'.
- Illustration: Frank T. Merrill; restoration: Chris WoodrichAn illustration from 1896 edition of James Fenimore Cooper's The Last of the Mohicans. Set during the French and Indian War, the novel details the transport of two young women to Fort William Henry. Among the caravan guarding the women are the frontiersman Natty Bumppo, the Major Duncan Heyward, and the Indians Chingachgook and Uncas. In this scene, Bumppo (disguised as a bear) fights against the novel's villain, Magua, as two of his compatriots look on.
- Artist: Albert RobidaA typical 20th-century aerial rotating house, as drawn by Albert Robida. The drawing shows a dwelling structure in the scientific romance style elevated above rooftops and designed to revolve and adjust in various directions. An occupant in the lower right points to an airship with a fish-shaped balloon in the sky, while a woman rides a bucket elevator on the left. Meanwhile, children fly a kite from the balcony as a dog watches from its rooftop doghouse.
- Painting: John BauerA watercolor illustration by John Bauer (1882–1918) titled "Still, Tuvstarr sits and gazes down into the water", which accompanied Helge Kjellin's fairy tale "The Tale of the Moose Hop and the Little Princess Cotton Grass" in the 1913 edition of Among Gnomes and Trolls. In this scene, Tuvstarr looks for her lost heart in a tarn, symbolizing innocence lost.
Born and raised in Jönköping, Sweden, Bauer moved to Stockholm at age 16 to study at the Royal Swedish Academy of Fine Arts. He painted and illustrated in a romantic nationalistic style, in part influenced by the Italian Renaissance and Sami cultures. Most of his works are watercolors or prints in monochrome or muted colours; he also produced oil paintings and frescos.
- Illustrator: Harold Robert Millar; restoration: Adam CuerdenAn illustration from the story "The Winged Hats" from the first printing of Rudyard Kipling's 1906 fantasy book Puck of Pook's Hill, featuring the legend "'We dealt with them thoroughly through a long day'".
The book consists of a number of stories, all narrated to two children living near Burwash, in the area of Kipling's own house Bateman's, by people magically plucked out of history by the elf Puck, or told by Puck himself.
- Engraving: John Masey Wright (artist) and John Rogers (engraver); restoration: Adam CuerdenA mid-19th century illustration for "Auld Lang Syne", a Scots poem written by Robert Burns in 1788 and set to a traditional melody. It is traditionally used in the English-speaking world to bid farewell to the old year at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve; this has led to the song being used to close other activities as well.
- Illustration: George Cruikshank; Restoration: Adam CuerdenIn this scene from Laurence Sterne's The Life and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, Uncle Toby's colonel invents a device for firing multiple miniature cannons at once, based on a hookah. Unfortunately, he and Toby find the puffing on the hookah pipe so enjoyable that they keep setting the cannons off. The novel was published in nine volumes over ten years, starting in 1759. Although it was not always held in high esteem by other writers, its bawdy humour was popular with London society, and it has come to be seen as one of the greatest comic novels in English, as well as a forerunner for many modern narrative devices and styles.
- The Quarrel of Oberon and Titania is an oil painting on canvas by the Scottish artist Joseph Noel Paton. Painted in 1849, it depicts the scene from William Shakespeare's comedy play A Midsummer Night's Dream, in which the fairy queen Titania and fairy king Oberon quarrel. When exhibited in Edinburgh in 1850, it was declared the "painting of the season". The painting was acquired by the National Galleries of Scotland in 1897, having initially been bought by the Royal Association for Promoting the Fine Arts.
- An illustration from the first edition of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, depicting the scene where Dorothy meets the Cowardly Lion, the first time the four major characters of the novel come together. The book was originally published in 1900 and has since been reprinted countless times, most often under the name The Wizard of Oz, which is the name of both the 1902 Broadway musical and the extremely popular, highly acclaimed 1939 film version. Thanks in part to the film it is one of the best-known stories in American popular culture and has been widely translated. Its initial success, and the success of the popular 1902 musical Baum adapted from his story, led to his writing and having published thirteen more Oz books.
- Illustration: Unknown; restoration: Adam CuerdenJeeves is a fictional character in a series of comedic short stories and novels by English author P. G. Wodehouse, in which he is depicted as the highly competent valet of a wealthy and idle young Londoner named Bertie Wooster. First appearing in the short story "Extricating Young Gussie" in 1915, Jeeves continued to feature in Wodehouse's work until his last completed novel, Aunts Aren't Gentlemen (1974). He also appeared in numerous films and television series, portrayed by such actors as Arthur Treacher, Michael Aldridge, and Dennis Price. The name and character of Jeeves have come to be identified with the quintessential valet or butler.
- Illustration: W. E. F. Britten; restoration: Adam Cuerden"The Sleeping Beauty" is a poem written by Alfred, Lord Tennyson, and published in 1830; it was later expanded and published in 1842 as "The Day-Dream". Based on the fairy tale Sleeping Beauty, the poem (as with many of Tennyson's adaptations of existing literary works) focuses on a single aspect of the story, the appearance of the eponymous character as she sleeps.
This illustration by W. E. F. Britten was published in 1901 to accompany a reprinting of "The Sleeping Beauty". It accompanies the poem's final lines: "She sleeps, nor dreams, but ever dwells / A perfect form in perfect rest."
- Illustration: Jessie Willcox Smith; Restoration: ErikTheBikeManAn illustration from a ca. 1916 edition of The Water-Babies, A Fairy Tale for a Land Baby, a children's novel written by Charles Kingsley and originally serialised in 1862–63. The book, a didactic moral fable, tells the story of Tom (lower left), a young boy who drowns and is reincarnated as a "water-baby". He undergoes a series of adventures and eventually regains his human form. It was extremely popular during its day and through the 1920s, but has since fallen out of favour, perhaps due to Kingsley's expression of many of the common prejudices of that time period, such as against Americans, Jews, blacks, and Catholics, particularly the Irish.
- Engraver: J. Cooper; Restoration: Adam Cuerden"Le Noir Faineant in the Hermit's Cell", an illustration from an 1886 edition of Sir Walter Scott's 1819 novel Ivanhoe. Here, we see Le Noir Faineant, or the Black Knight (Richard the Lionheart in disguise) with Friar Tuck. Scott was an early pioneer in the development of the modern novel, and largely created the genre of historical fiction by weaving together legends and characters into his own creations. Ivanhoe, the story of one of the remaining Saxon noble families at a time when the English nobility was overwhelmingly Norman, was greatly influential on the modern view of the English folk hero Robin Hood, and has inspired many adaptations around the world in theatre, opera, film, and television.
Did you know (auto-generated) -
- ... that medieval literature scholar Theodore Silverstein's unit in World War II took over the Eiffel Tower to intercept communications of German aircraft?
- ... that Swedish writer Hedda Anderson began her literary career at the age of 58, following her husband's death in 1888?
- ... that Susan Chitty's memoir on her mother, Antonia White, was viewed as a "literary assassination" when published?
- ... that literary fiction novel Agatha of Little Neon's title stems from a house that is "the color of Mountain Dew"?
- ... that literary agent Jacques Chambrun sold unauthorized, scandalous excerpts of a Marilyn Monroe memoir to a British tabloid?
- ... that conte, a literary genre which includes fairy tales and philosophical stories, became merged with the short story in the 1800s?
Today in literature
- 1611 - Jean Bertaut, French poet died
- 1903 - Marguerite Yourcenar, French author born
- 1949 - George Orwell's dystopian political novel Nineteen Eighty-Four was first published.
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