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Cover Image: The Maximus Poems by OLSON, Charles

The Maximus Poems

First combined edition, limited issue. Cloth and printed paper wrappers applied... more>>

Cover Image: Original Watercolor Painting of Santa Claus by SPIRIN, Gennady

Original Watercolor Painting of Santa...

Original finished watercolor for the 2006 book. Image area is approximately... more>>

Cover Image: Arundel by ROBERTS, Kenneth

Arundel

First edition. Bookplate on the front pastedown else fine in near fine, first... more>>

Cover Image: The Harder They Fall by SCHULBERG, Budd

The Harder They Fall

First edition. A small, faint stain on the top edge, still fine in a very near... more>>

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This Week...

This week in literary history.

1302 The great Italian poet Dante Alighieri was expelled from his native Florence on January 27, 1302. When he wrote his The Divine Comedy he made sure to put all the people responsible in Hell, where they remain to this day. Moral of the story: be careful about pissing-off great poets.

1640 The English scholar Robert Burton died at age 62 on January 25, 1640. He suffered from depression, and wrote his most famous work, The Anatomy of Melancholy, as an attempt at treating it.

1732 French playwright Pierre Beaumarchais was born in Paris on January 24, 1732. Skilled in many areas, he is best known for his three Figaro plays - Le Barbier de Seville, Le Mariage de Figaro, and La Mere coupable. Beaumarchais, financially sucessful and a member of the French nobility, narrowly escaped death during the French Revolution, being released from a prison three days before a massacre there.

1737 English-American Pamphleteer Thomas Paine was born in Thetford, Norfolk on January 29, 1737. Paine contributed to the American revolution with his powerful pamphlet advocating independence, Common Sense. He was also an influence on the French Revolution, describing the ideas of the Enlightenment in The Rights of Man.

1759 Robert Burns, the National Poet of Scotland, was born in Alloway, Ayrshire on January 25, 1759. Among his many ballads perhaps the best known is the traditional New Years' song "Auld Lang Syne." His poem "Comin' Thro' the Rye" inspired the title of J.D. Salinger's The Catcher in the Rye.

1802 John Beckley, the first Librarian of Congress, was hired in on January 29, 1802, two years after the library opened. The Librarian of Congress is appointed by the President, and serves as the chief librarian of all the sections of the library.

1815 By purchasing Thomas Jefferson's personal library the U.S. Library of Congress was re-established on January 30, 1815 after its destruction during the War of 1812.

1831 Children's writer Mary Mapes Dodge, author of Hans Brinker, or, the Silver Skates, and the first editor of the children's magazine St. Nicholas, was born in New York City on January 26, 1831.

1832 English mathematician Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known to readers asLewis Carroll, was born in Daresbury, Chesire on January 27, 1832. Although he suffered from a bad stammer, it disappeared when he spoke to children, who were very fond of him. During a picnic with the Liddell family he told them a story which one of the children, Alice Liddell, asked him to write down. The novelist Henry Kingsley happened to read the manuscript, given to Alice as a gift, and encouraged Carroll to publish it. Thus today we have Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.

1845 Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" first appeared in the New York Evening Mirror on January 29, 1845.

1860 Russian playwright and master of the modern short story Anton Chekhov was born in Taganrog, in southern Russia, on January 29, 1860. he turned to writing in part to support his family after his father's bankruptcy and to pay his way through medical school.

1862 American novelist Edith Wharton, author of Ethan Frome and the Pulitzer Prize-winning The Age of Innocence, was born in New York City on January 24, 1862, a daughter of the wealthy Jones family (about whom the saying "keeping up with the Joneses" was allegedly coined).

1866 French writer, mystic, and Nobel laureate Romain Rolland, author of Jean-Christophe and The Enchanted Soul, was born in Clamecy on January 29, 1866.

1866 Humorist Gelett Burgess, who became famous with his short quatrain about a purple cow ("I'd rather see than be one"), was born in Boston, Massachusetts on January 30, 1866. He is also credited with adding several words to the English language, including "blurb."

1869 Prussian-born, English-educated American novelist Percival Pollard was born in Greifswald, Pomerania on January 29, 1869. Among his works were the Queen's Quorum mystery Lingo Dan and Their Day in Court, a 1909 book of literary and cultural commentary.

1871 Prolific American author and muckracking journalist Samuel Hopkins Adams, who also wrote as Warner Fabian, was born in Dunkirk, New York on January 26, 1871. His articles for Colliers exposing quack medicines contributed to the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act of 1906. Today he is best remembered for his story "Night Bus," which was filmed in 1934 as It Happened One Night.

1873 French author Colette, whose long writing career included her Claudine novels and Gigi (upon which the musical and film were based), was born in Yonne, France on January 28, 1873.

1874 English novelist and playwright W. Somerset Maugham, author of Of Human Bondage, Ashenden, The Moon and Sixpence, and The Razor's Edge, was born in Paris on January 25, 1874.

1874 Prolific playwright Owen Davis was born in Portland, Maine on January 29, 1874. Davis wrote between 200 and 300 plays including his 1923 Pulitzer Prize-winner Icebound.

1881 The great Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky, whose classics included Crime and Punishment, The Idiot, Notes from the Underground, and The Brothers Karamazov, died in St. Petersburg on January 28, 1881 at age 59. Following some early writings he was arrested for revolutionary activity against the Tsar and sentenced to death. After he and fellow prisoners were led outside and waited to be shot, his sentence was commuted to hard labor in Siberia. Several years after his release he began to write again, producing his major works.

1882 English novelist Virginia Woolf, author of such experimental works Mrs. Dalloway and To the Lighthouse, was born in London on January 25, 1882.

1885 African-American activist and proponent of black nationalism Martin Delany died in Charleston, South Carolina on January 24, 1885 of tuberculosis at age 72. Delany's writings include the novel Blake: or, the Huts of America. He was the first African-American field officer in the US army.

1889 The writer Charles Hawes was born in Clifton Springs, New York on January 24, 1889. His The Dark Frigate, a children's historical novel about pirates, was awarded the 1924 Newbery Medal.

1906 Pulp fiction author Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian, was born in Peaster, Texas on January 24, 1906. Most of his fantasy writings were collected and published after his death by other notable writers in the field including L. Sprague de Camp, August Derleth, and Donald Wandrei.

1907 John M. Synge's best known play, The Playboy of the Western World, opened at Dublin's Abbey Theatre on January 26, 1907. The drama was initially unpopular with its Irish audience and even caused a riot, but William Butler Yeats chastised the public and critical opinion soon turned them in Synge's favor.

1911 Journalist and novelist David Graham Phillips, author of The Great God Success and the posthumous Susan Lenox (one of the first novels about American prostitution) died on January 24, 1911 after being shot six times in New York City by a paranoid musician who thought a character in his novel The Fashionable Adventures of Joshua Craig was based on the latter's sister. His assailant killed himself, but Phillips lingered for a day, commenting to the hospital staff, "I could have won against two bullets but not against six." He was 43 years old.

1912 American historian Barbara Tuchman, who won Pulitzer Prizes for both The Guns of August and Stilwell and the American Experience in China, was born in New York City on January 30, 1912.

1913 Czech-born writer Franz Kafka stopped work on his novel Amerika on January 24, 1913. It, like The Trial and The Castle, was published posthumously over a decade later.

1918 The science-fiction and fantasy author Philip Jose Farmer was born in Terre Haute, Indiana on January 26, 1918. He is best known for his Riverworld and World of Tiers series.

1923 American playwright, screenwriter, and novelist, Paddy Chayefsky, was born on January 29, 1923 in Bronx, New York. He won Academy Awards for three of his screenplays: Marty (1955), The Hospital (1971) and Network (1976). His final screenplay was for Altered States (1980) which was based on his novel, but he had numerous disagreements with director Ken Russell and ultimately used the name Sidney Aaron in the credits. Paddy Chayefsky was born Sidney Aaron Chayefsky and gained his nickname while serving in the Army during World War II where he also earned a Purple Heart.

1927 Edward Abbey, called the "Thoreau of the American West" by Larry McMurtry, was born in Indiana, Pennsylvania on January 29, 1927. Radical environmental groups have cited his novel The Monkey Wrench Gang as an inspiration.

1929 Cartoonist, author, and screenwriter Jules Feiffer was born in the Bronx, New York on January 26, 1929. He provided the illustrations for Norton Juster's classic children's book The Phantom Tollbooth.

1929 Erich Maria Remarque's best known work, the classic anti-war novel All Quite on the Western Front, was published on January 29, 1929.

1931 Canadian comic novelist Mordecai Richler, author such works as The Apprenticeship of Duddy Kravitz and Cocksure, was born in Montreal on January 27, 1931.

1931 American writer Shirely Hazzard, author of Cliffs of Fall, People in Glass Houses, The Transit of Venus, and The Great Fire, was born in Sydney, Australia on January 30, 1931.

1933 The lyrical poet Sara Teasdale took an overdose of sleeping pills and died in New York City on January 29, 1933 at age 48. Twenty years before she had been courted passionately by the poet Vachel Lindsay, but married a businessman instead. She and Lindsay remained close friends, however, until his own death by suicide in 1931.

1935 English author J.G. Farrell, best known for his Empire Trilogy, which includes the Booker Prize-winning The Siege of Krishnapur, was born in Liverpool on January 25, 1935.

1935 The award-winning British author David Lodge was born in Brockley, an area in south-east London on January 28, 1935. Among the fictional places in his novels are the US state of "Euphoria", between "North California" and "South California", and the city "Plotinus", the location of Euphoria's state university.

1935 British mystery writer J.S. Fletcher, author of The Adventures of Archer Dawe (sleuth-hound), The Charing Cross Mystery, and The Middle Temple Murder, died in Dorking, Surrey on January 30, 1935 a week shy of his 72nd birthday. Initially popular only in England, he achieved success in America after he was praised by President Woodrow Wilson.

1936 Albanian writer Ismail Kadare, best known for his novel The General of the Dead Army, was born in Gjirokaster on January 27, 1936.

1939 American mystery author Brian Garfield, who won an Edgar Award for his novel Hopscotch, was born in New York City on January 26, 1939. He grew up in Arizona and is the only author to have been President of both the Western Writers of America and the Mystery Writers of America. He also wrote the interesting and controversial examination of vigilantism, Death Wish, which became a hit movie starring Charles Bronson (which altered the anti-vigilante stance of the source novel).

1939 Irish Nobel laureate William Butler Yeats died in Roquebrune-Cap-Martin, France on January 28, 1939 at age 73. Yeats was the co-founder and director of the Irish Literary Theatre (later the Abbey Theatre), and among his best known plays are The Countess Cathleen and Deirdre. Today he is chiefly known for his poetry, including such masterpieces as "Sailing to Byzantium" and "The Second Coming."

1950 African-American author Gloria Naylor was born in New York City on January 25, 1950.

1956 Influential journalist and critic H.L. Mencken died of heart failure in his native Baltimore, Maryland on January 29, 1956 at age 75. He was the co-editor of first The Smart Set and then American Mercury, as well as the author of several volumes of Prejudices and The American Language.

1957 Isaac Asimov's book The Naked Sun, was published on January 24, 1957.

1960 African-American folklorist and author Zora Neale Hurston, whose works included Jonah's Gourd Vine and Their Eyes Were Watching God, died of heart failure in Fort Pierce, Florida on January 28, 1960 at age 69 (her actual age was in dispute until census records were examined). She was largely forgotten at her death but a decade later Alice Walker came across her writings and in a famous article in Ms. Magazine Walker recounted her struggle to find Hurston's grave. The revival in interest and critical appreciation of Hurston's works has continued to this day.

1963 American poet Robert Frost, famous for such poems as "Stopping by the Woods on a Snowy Evening" and "The Road Not Taken," died in Boston, Massachusetts on January 29, 1963 at age 88.

1965 British Prime Minister, historian, and Nobel Prize winner for Literature Winston Churchill died in London on January 24, 1965 at age 90. His works are not to be confused with those of the once-popular American author of the same name who was not, according to bibliographer Stanley Kunitz, a relation. Although best known as a statesman, Churchill's The Second World War and A History of the English-Speaking Peoples are both still highly regarded as works of historical literature.

1970 Poet, publisher, and patron of the arts Caresse Crosby died in Rome, Italy on January 24, 1970 at age 78. Among her early accomplishments, when she was 19 she invented the first modern brassiere to receive a patent and gain wide acceptance.

1974 Popular British author H.E. Bates, best known for his WWII fiction including How Sleep the Brave and The Jacaranda Tree, died in Canterbury, Kent on January 29, 1974 at age 68.

1984 Screenwriter and playwright Frances Goodrich died in Manhattan on January 29, 1984 of cancer at age 93. In collaboration with her husband Albert Hackett, she wrote the Pulitzer Prize winning play The Diary of Anne Frank, and the screenplays for many successful movies, including The Thin Man and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers.

1991 Western novelist Jack Schaefer, whose works included Monte Walsh and the classic Shane, died of a stroke in Santa Fe, New Mexico on January 24, 1991 at age 83.

1994 French novelist Pierre Boulle, author of The Bridge over the River Kwai and Planet of the Apes, died in Paris on January 30, 1994 at age 82. Boulle won an Academy Award for the screenplay adaptation of the former, despite the fact that he didn't write the screenplay and by his own admission spoke no English. The film's actual screenwriters, Carl Foreman and Michael Wilson, were blacklisted at the time (their names were added to the Award decades later). Boulle gave one of the shortest acceptance speeches in Oscar history, saying simply, "Merci."

1996 Composer and playwright Jonathan Larson died of an aortic aneurysm on January 25, 1996, the day before Rent, the musical that was his magnum opus, opened off-Broadway. Rent went on to win Larson a Pulitzer Prize and four Tony Awards.

1996 Russian-born Nobel Prize-winning poet Joseph Brodsky, author of A Part of Speech and To Urania, died of heart failure in New York City on January 28, 1996 at age 55.

1998 Walter D. Edmonds, known for Drums Along the Mohawk and other historical novels, died in Concord, Massachusetts on January 24, 1998 at age 94.

2000 Canadian science-fiction master A.E. van Vogt died in Los Angeles, California on January 26, 2000 at age 87. His classic works include Slan and The Voyage of the Space Beagle, but a feud with fellow science-fiction author Damon Knight kept him from being awarded the Science Fiction Writers of America's highest award (called, not coincidentally, the Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master Award) until very late in his life.

2002 The Swedish children's book author and screenwriter Astrid Lindgren died on January 28, 2002 at the age of 94. She was most famous for her Pippi Longstocking novels. A minor planet, 3204 Lindgren, was named after her, and the instruments on the Swedish micro satellite Astrid 1 were called by the names of characters from her books.

2006 American playwright Wendy Wasserstein, author of The Heidi Chronicles, died of lymphoma at age 55 in New York City on January 30, 2006. The lights on Broadway were dimmed in her honor the night after she died.

2007 Novelist, playwright, and screenwriter Sidney Sheldon, author of Rage of Angels and the script for The Bachelor and the Bobby-Soxer, died on January 30, 2007 of complications from pneumonia in Rancho Mirage, California at age 89. Most important to us, he created the TV sitcom I Dream of Jeannie.

2009 Prolific American author John Updike, whose "Rabbit" Angstrom series won two Pulitzer Prizes, died in Danvers, Massachusetts of lung cancer on January 27, 2009 at age 76.

2010 Novelist Louis Auchincloss, who portrayed the world of upper class New York society in works such as The Indifferent Children and Portrait in Brownstone, died in Manhattan on January 26, 2010 at age 92 from complications of a stroke. A courtly gentleman, he would sometimes visit the Between the Covers booth at the annual New York Antiquarian Book Fair and write interesting notes in first edition copies of this books.

2010 Famously reclusive writer J.D. Salinger, author of The Catcher in the Rye and stories of the Glass family, died at his home in Cornish, New Hampshire, where he had lived in seclusion for more than 50 years, on January 27, 2010 at age 91.

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