Mark Twain

scAmerican Author Mark Twain (Samuel Langhorne Clemens) was Born November 30, in 1835. He wrote, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876), and its sequel, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), the latter often called “the Great American Novel.” Mark Twain was born during a visit by Halley’s Comet, and he predicted that he would “go out with it” as well. he grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which would later provide the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer.

At first He apprenticed with a printer. Where He also worked as a typesetter and contributed articles to his older brother Orion’s newspaper. After toiling as a printer in various cities, he became a master riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River. He then turned to journalism and while a reporter, he wrote a humorous story, The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County, which became very popular and brought nationwide attention. His travelogues were also well-received. Twain had found his calling.

Twain began his career writing light, humorous verse, but evolved into a chronicler of the vanities, hypocrisies and murderous acts of mankind. At mid-career, with Huckleberry Finn, he combined rich humour, sturdy narrative and social criticism. Twain was a master at rendering colloquial speech which helped to create and popularize a distinctive American literature built on American themes and language. Many of Twain’s works have been suppressed at times for various reasons. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn has repeatedly been restricted in American high schools, for its frequent use of words now considered racist which were in common usage in the pre-Civil War period in which the novel was set. Although He achieved great success as a writer and public speaker, with his wit and satire earning him praise from presidents, artists, industrialists, European royalty, critics and peers alike, he lacked financial acumen, and although he made a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, he squandered it on various ventures,and was often forced to declare bankruptcy.

Twain’s first important work, “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County,” was first published in the New York Saturday Press on November 18, 1865. Next, he was commissioned to write letters about his travel experiences, chronicling his experiences with his burlesque humour. The first journey he took was to ride the steamer Ajax in its maiden voyage to Hawaii. These humorous letters proved the genesis to his work with the San Francisco Alta California newspaper, which designated him a traveling correspondent for a trip from San Francisco to New York City via the Panama isthmus. This trip resulted in The Innocents Abroad or The New Pilgrims’ Progress. This is a record of a pleasure trip, written as If it were a record of a solemn scientific expedition having the gravity, profundity, and impressive incomprehensibility which are so proper to works of that kind.

In 1872, Twain published a second piece of travel literature, Roughing It, as a semi-sequel to Innocents. This was a semi-autobiographical account of Twain’s journey to Nevada and his subsequent life in the American West. The book lampoons American and Western society in the same way that Innocents critiqued the various countries of Europe and the Middle East. Twain’s next work. Entitled The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today was not a travel piece, as his previous two books had been, it focused more on the events of the day in American society, and was his first attempt at writing a novel. The book is also notable because it is Twain’s only collaboration; it was written with his neighbor Charles Dudley Warner. Twain’s next two works drew on his experiences on the Mississippi River. Old Times on the Mississippi, was a series of sketches published in the Atlantic Monthly in 1875, which featured Twain’s disillusionment with Romanticism. It eventually became the starting point for Life on the Mississippi.

Twain’s next major publication was The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which drew on his youth in Hannibal. Modelled on Twain as a child, with traces of two schoolmates, John Briggs and Will Bowen. The book also introduced Huckleberry Finn, based on Twain’s boyhood friend Tom Blankenship. His next book, The Prince and the Pauper, was not as well received. It Tells the story of two boys born on the same day who are physically identical, who switch places. Pauper was Twain’s first attempt at historical fiction, and blame for its shortcomings is usually put on Twain for having not been experienced enough in English society, and also on the fact that it was produced after a massive hit. Twain’s next major published work, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, solidified him as a noteworthy American writer. Some have called it the first Great American Novel, and the book has become required reading in many schools throughout the United States. Huckleberry Finn was an offshoot from Tom Sawyer and had a more serious tone than its predecessor. The main premise behind Huckleberry Finn is the young boy’s belief in the right thing to do, even though most believed that it was wrong.

Near the completion of Huckleberry Finn, Twain wrote Life on the Mississippi, this recounts Twain’s memories and new experiences after a 22-year absence from the Mississippi. Twain’s last work was his autobiography, which he dictated and thought would be most entertaining if he went off on whims and tangents in non-chronological order. Some archivists and compilers have rearranged the biography into more conventional forms, thereby eliminating some of Twain’s humour and the flow of the book. ,Mark Twain sadly passed away April 21 1910 however the continuing popularity of His novels has helped him become one of very few authors publishing new best-selling volumes in all 3 of the 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries

Jonathan Swift

001_gullivers_travels1-199x300Satirist, essayist, poet and cleric Jonathan Swift was born 30 November 1667. He is remembered for works such as Gulliver’s Travels, A Modest Proposal, A Journal to Stella, Drapier’s Letters, The Battle of the Books, An Argument Against Abolishing Christianity, and A Tale of a Tub. Swift’s family had several interesting literary connections: His grandmother, Elizabeth (Dryden) Swift, was the niece of Sir Erasmus Dryden, grandfather of the poet John Dryden. The same grandmother’s aunt, Katherine (Throckmorton) Dryden, was a first cousin of Elizabeth, wife of Sir Walter Raleigh. His great-great grandmother, Margaret (Godwin) Swift, was the sister of Francis Godwin, author of The Man in the Moone which influenced parts of Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels. His uncle, Thomas Swift, married a daughter of the poet and playwright Sir William Davenant, a godson of William Shakespeare. He is probably the foremost prose satirist in the English language, and is less well known for his poetry. Swift originally published all of his works under pseudonyms – such as Lemuel Gulliver, Isaac Bickerstaff, MB Drapier – or anonymously. He is also known for being a master of two styles of satire: the Horatian and Juvenalian styles.

In February 1702, Swift received his Doctor of Divinity degree from Trinity College, Dublin. He then traveled to England and returned to Ireland in October, accompanied by Esther Johnson and his friend Rebecca Dingley, another member of William Temple’s household. During his visits to England in these years Swift published A Tale of a Tub and The Battle of the Books (1704) and began to gain a reputation as a writer. This led to close, lifelong friendships with Alexander Pope, John Gay, and John Arbuthnot, forming the core of the Martinus Scriblerus Club. Swift also went to London many times & was recruited by The Tory Party to support their cause as editor of The Examiner. In 1711, Swift published the political pamphlet “The Conduct of the Allies & became part of the inner circle of the Tory government, and often acted as mediator between Henry St John (Viscount Bolingbroke) the secretary of state for foreign affairs (1710–15) and Robert Harley (Earl of Oxford) lord treasurer and prime minister (1711–14).

After the death of Queen Anne in 1714 and accession of George I, the Tory leaders were tried for treason for conducting secret negotiations with France so Swift returned to Ireland, where he began to support of Irish causes, producing some of his most memorable works: Proposal for Universal Use of Irish Manufacture (1720), Drapier’s Letters (1724), and A Modest Proposal (1729), earning him the status of an Irish patriot. He began writing Travels into Several Remote Nations of the World, in Four Parts, by Lemuel Gulliver, first a surgeon, and then a captain of several ships, better known as Gulliver’s Travels.

In 1726 he visited London, staying with his old friends Alexander Pope, John Arbuthnot and John Gay, who helped him arrange for the anonymous publication of Gulliver’s Travels in 1726 It was immediately successful and was translated into. French, German, and Dutch.Swift returned to England one more time in 1727 but The visit was cut short when Swift received word that Esther Johnson was dying and rushed back home to be with her. On 28 January 1728, Esther Johnson died. Sadly After this, Death became a frequent feature in Swift’s life. In 1731 he wrote Verses on the Death of Dr. Swift. In 1738 Swift began to show signs of illness, and in 1742 he may have suffered a stroke, losing the ability to speak. Swift sadly passed away on 19 October 1745 (aged 77), and was buried in his own cathedral by Esther Johnson’s side, in accordance with his wishes. The bulk of his fortune (twelve thousand pounds) was left to found a hospital for the mentally ill, which opened in 1757. There have also been many film Animation and Television adaptations made of of the novel. including the 1939 version, a Hallmark version starring Ted Danson as Lemuel Gulliver, and the most recent one starring Jack Black.

Oscar Wilde

Prolific Irish writer and poet Oscar Wilde Sadly died destitute in Paris at the age of forty-six on 30th November 1900. Born 16 October 1854. He became one of London’s most popular playwrights during the early 1890s. Today he is remembered for his epigrams and plays, and the circumstances of his imprisonment which was followed by his early death.Wilde’s parents were successful Dublin intellectuals. Their son became fluent in French and German early in life. At university Wilde read Greats; he proved himself to be an outstanding classicist, first at Dublin, then at Oxford. He became known for his involvement in the rising philosophy of aestheticism, led by two of his tutors, Walter Pater and John Ruskin.

After university, Wilde moved to London into fashionable cultural and social circles. As a spokesman for aestheticism, he tried his hand at various literary activities: he published a book of poems, lectured in the United States and Canada on the new “English Renaissance in Art”, and then returned to London where he worked prolifically as a journalist. Known for his biting wit, flamboyant dress, and glittering conversation, Wilde had become one of the most well-known personalities of his day.At the turn of the 1890s, he refined his ideas about the supremacy of art in a series of dialogues and essays, and incorporated themes of decadence, duplicity, and beauty into his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1890). Oscar Wilde then wrote Salome (1891) in French in Paris but it was refused a licence. Unperturbed, Wilde produced four society comedies in the early 1890s, making him one of the most successful playwrights of late Victorian London.

At the height of his fame and success, while The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), was still on stage in London, Wilde had the Marquess of Queensberry, the father of his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas, prosecuted for libel, a charge carrying a penalty of up to two years in prison. Unfortunately The trial unearthed evidence that caused Wilde to drop his charges and led to his own arrest and trial for gross indecency with other men. After two more trials he was convicted and imprisoned for two years’ hard labour. In prison he wrote De Profundis (written in 1897 and published in 1905), a long letter which discusses his spiritual journey through his trials, forming a dark counterpoint to his earlier philosophy of pleasure. Upon his release he left immediately for France, never to return to Ireland or Britain. There he wrote his last work, The Ballad of Reading Gaol (1898), a long poem commemorating the harsh rhythms of prison life. His novels continue to remain popular and have been adapted for Radio, Television and film numerous times.

LNER 4472 Flying Scotsman

800px-Flying_Scotsman_2005On November 30 1934 The LNER Class A3 Pacific steam locomotive No. 4472 Flying Scotsman became the first Steam Locomotive to officially exceed 100mph. The Flying Scotsman was built in 1923 for the London and North Eastern Railway (LNER) at Doncaster Works to a design of H.Nigel Gresley. It was employed on long-distance express trains on the LNER and its successors, British Railways Eastern and North-Eastern Regions, notably on the 10am London to Edinburgh Flying Scotsman train service after which it was named.The locomotive is notable for having set two world records for steam traction; becoming the first steam locomotive to be officially authenticated at reaching 100 miles per hour (160.9 km/h) on 30 November 1934,and then setting a record for the longest non-stop run by a steam locomotive when it ran 422 miles (679 km) on 8 August 1938. It was retired from regular service in 1963 after covering 2,076,000 miles (3,341,000 km),Flying Scotsman gained considerable fame in preservation under the ownership of Alan Pegler, William McAlpine, Tony Marchington and finally the National Railway Museum. As well as hauling enthusiast specials in the United Kingdom, the locomotive toured extensively in the United States (from 1969 to 1973) and Australia (from 1988 to 1989).Flying Scotsman has been described as the world’s most famous steam locomotive

The locomotive was completed in 1923, construction having been started under the auspices of the Great Northern Railway (GNR). It was built as an A1, initially carrying the GNR number 1472, because the LNER had not yet decided on a system-wide numbering scheme’ Flying Scotsman was something of a flagship locomotive for the LNER. It represented the company at the British Empire Exhibition at Wembley in 1924 and 1925. Before this event, in February 1924 it acquired its name and the new number of 4472. From then on it was commonly used for promotional purposes.With suitably modified valve gear, this locomotive was one of five Gresley Pacifics selected to haul the prestigious non-stop Flying Scotsman train service from London to Edinburgh, hauling the inaugural train on 1 May 1928. For this the locomotives ran with a new version of the large eight-wheel tender which held 9 tons of coal. This and the usual facility for water replenishment from the water trough system enabled them to travel the 392 miles (631 km) from London to Edinburgh in eight hours non-stop. The tender included a corridor connection and tunnel through the water tank giving access to the locomotive cab from the train to permit replacement of the driver and fireman without stopping the train. The following year the locomotive appeared in the film The Flying Scotsman. On 30 November 1934, running a light test train, 4472 became the first steam locomotive to be officially recorded at 100 mph (160.9 km/h) and earned a place in the land speed record for railed vehicles; the publicity-conscious LNER made much of the fact.

On 22 August 1928, there appeared an improved version of this Pacific type classified A3; older A1 locomotives were later rebuilt to conform. On 25 April 1945, A1-class locomotives not yet rebuilt were reclassified A10 in order to make way for newer Thompsonand Peppercorn Pacifics. Flying Scotsman emerged from Doncaster works on 4 January 1947 as an A3, having received a boiler with the long “banjo” dome of the type it carries today. By this time it had been renumbered twice: under Edward Thompson’scomprehensive renumbering scheme for the LNER, it became no. 502 in January 1946; but in May the same year, under an amendment to that plan, it become no. 103. Following nationalisation of the railways on 1 January 1948, almost all of the LNER locomotive numbers were increased by 60000, and no. 103 duly became 60103 in December 1948. Between 5 June 1950 and 4 July 1954, and between 26 December 1954 and 1 September 1957, under British Railways ownership, it was allocated to Leicester Central shed on the Great Central, running Nottingham Victoria to London Marylebone services via Leicester Central.All A3 Pacifics were subsequently fitted with a double Kylchap chimney to improve performance and economy. This caused soft exhaust and smoke drift that tended to obscure the driver’s forward vision; the remedy was found in the German-type smoke deflectors fitted from 1960, which somewhat changed the locomotives’ appearance but solved the problem

In 1963 Flying Scotsman Number 60103 finished working.Proposed to be saved by a group called “Save Our Scotsman”, they were unable to raise the required £3,000. Luckily Alan Pegler, Having first seen the locomotive at the British Empire Exhibition in 1924, bought Flying Scotsman using money he had received for his share holding when Northern Rubber was sold to Pegler’s Valves. He spent the next few years spending large amounts of money having the locomotive restored at Doncaster Works as closely as possible to its LNER condition: the smoke deflectors were removed; the double chimney was replaced by a single chimney; and the tender was replaced by one of the corridor type with which the locomotive had run between 1928 and 1936. It was also repainted into LNER livery, although the cylinder sides were painted green, whereas in LNER days they were always black. Peglar then persuaded the British Railways Board to let him run enthusiasts specials, And it worked a number of rail tours, including a non-stop London–Edinburgh run in 1968 – the year steam traction officially ended on BR. Then in September 1966 Pegler purchased a second corridor tender, and adapted as an auxiliary water tank; retaining its through gangway, this was coupled behind the normal tender.

Pegler had a contract permitting him to run his locomotive on BR until 1972, but following overhaul in the winter of 1968–69 then Prime Minister Wilson agreed to support Pegler running the locomotive in the United States and Canada to support British exports. To comply with local railway regulations, it was fitted with: acowcatcher; bell; buckeye couplings; American-style whistle air brakes; and high-intensity headlamp. the tour ran into immediate problems, with some states seeing the locomotive as a fire-hazard. However, the train ran from Boston to New York, Washington and Dallas in 1969; from Texas to Wisconsin and finishing in Montreal in 1970; and from Toronto to San Francisco in 1971 — a total of 15,400 miles (24,800 km).However, in 1970 Ted Heath’s Conservatives ousted Wilson’s Labour Party, and withdrew financial support from the tour; but Pegler decided to return for the 1970 season. By the end of that season’s tour, the money had run out and Pegler was £132,000 in debt, with the locomotive in storage at the U.S. ArmySharpe Depot to keep it away from unpaid creditors.Pegler worked his passage home from San Francisco to England on a P&O cruise ship in 1971, giving lectures about trains and travel; he was declared bankrupt in the High Court 1972.Fears then arose for the engine’s future, the speculation being that it could take up permanent residence in America or even be cut up. However in January 1973, William McAlpine stepped in and bought the locomotive for £25,000. After its return to the UK via the Panama Canal in February 1973 the locomotive Was restored at Derby Works. Trial runs took place on the Paignton and Dartmouth Steam Railway in summer 1973, after which it was transferred to Steamtown (Carnforth)

In October 1988 the locomotive arrived in Australia to take part Australia’s bicentenery celebrations as a central attraction in the Aus Steam ’88 festival. During the course of the next year it travelled more than 45,000 kilometres (28,000 mi) over Australian rails, concluding with a return transcontinental run from Sydney to Perth via Alice Springs. Other highlights included Flying Scotsman double-heading with NSWGRPacific locomotive 3801, a triple-parallel run alongside broad gauge Victorian Railways R class locomotives, parallel runs alongside South Australian Railways locomotives 520and 621, and a reunion with GWR 4073 Class Pendennis Castle in Perth. 8 August 1989 Flying Scotsman set another record en route to Alice Springs from Sydney, travelling 679 kilometres (422 mi) from Parkes to Broken Hill non-stop, the longest such run by a steam locomotive ever recorded. A plaque on the engine records the event. Returned to the UK, by 1995 it was in pieces at Southall Railway Centre in West London, owned by a consortium that included McAlpine as well as music guru and well-known railway enthusiast Pete Waterman. Facing an uncertain future owing to the cost of restoration and refurbishment , salvation came in 1996 when Dr Tony Marchington, bought the locomotive, and had it restored over three years to running condition at a cost of £1 million. Sadly in September 2003 Marchington was declared bankrupt and CEO Peter Butler stated that the company only had enough cash to trade until April 2004. The locomotive was bought in April 2004 by the National Railway Museum in York, and it is now part of the National Collection. it ran for a while to raise funds for its forthcoming 10-year major boiler recertificationn In January 2006, Flying Scotsman entered the Museum’s workshops for a major overhaul to return it to Gresley’s original specification and renew its boiler certificate. In 2013 The locomotive was moved to Bury work to return it to running condition by 2015. Sadly this took longer than expected because the repairs proved prohibitively expensive and at one time Flying Scotsman’s future looked uncertain, However the rebuilt LNER 4472 Flying Scotsman is due to visit the Severn Valley Railway for the Autumn SteamGala 2016.

Saint Andrew’s Day

800px-Flag_of_Scotland.svgSaint Andrew (Greek: manly, brave, from ἀνδρεία, Andreia, “manhood, valour”),is the patron saint of Scotland, and St. Andrew’s Day (Scots: Saunt Andra’s Day, Scottish Gaelic: Latha Naomh Anndra) takes place on 30th November & is Scotland’s official national day. Although most commonly associated with Scotland, at least in the English-speaking world, Saint Andrew is the patron saint of Greece, Romania, Russia, Ukraine Barbados, Scotland, Ukraine, Russia, Romania, Patras in Greece, Amalfi in Italy, Luqa in Malta, and Esgueira in Portugal and of the Order of the Golden Fleece and the Ecumenical Patriarchate of Constantinople.The New Testament states that Andrew is a Christian Apostle & was the brother of Simon Peter, by which it is inferred that he was likewise a son of John, or Jonah. He was born in Bethsaida on the Sea of Galilee. Both he and his brother Peter were fishermen by trade, hence the tradition that Jesus called them to be his disciples by saying that he will make them “fishers of men”.

At the beginning of Jesus’ public life, they were said to have occupied the same house at Capernaum.The Gospel of John states that Andrew was a disciple of John the Baptist, whose testimony first led him, and another unnamed disciple of John the Baptist to follow Jesus. Andrew at once recognized Jesus as the Messiah, and hastened to introduce him to his brother. Thenceforth, the two brothers were disciples of Christ. On a subsequent occasion, prior to the final call to the Apostolate, they were called to a closer companionship, and then they left all things to follow Jesus.In the gospels, Andrew is referred to as being present on some important occasions as one of the disciples more closely attached to Jesus, Andrew told Jesus about the boy with the loaves and fishes (John 6:8), with Philip told Jesus about the Greeks seeking Him, and was one of four (the others being Peter, James, and John) to hear Jesus’ teaching about what would soon happen.Eusebius quotes Origen as saying Andrew preached along the Black Sea and the Dnieper and Volga rivers as far as Kiev and Novgorod Hence he became a patron saint of Ukraine, Romania and Russia. According to tradition, he founded the See of Byzantium (Constantinople) in AD 38, installing Stachys as bishop.

According to Hippolytus of Rome, he preached in Thrace, and his presence in Byzantium is also mentioned in the apocryphal Acts of Andrew, written in the 2nd century; Basil of Seleucia also knew of Apostle Andrew’s mission in Thrace, as well as Scythia and Achaia. This diocese would later develop into the Patriarchate of Constantinople. Andrew is recognized as its patron saint.Andrew is said to have been martyred by crucifixion at the city of Patras (Patræ) in Achaea, on the northern coast of the Peloponnese. Early texts, such as the Acts of Andrew known to Gregory of Tours, describe Andrew as bound, not nailed, to a Latin cross of the kind on which Jesus is said to have been crucified; yet a tradition developed that Andrew had been crucified on a cross of the form called Crux decussata (X-shaped cross, or “saltire”), now commonly known as a “Saint Andrew’s Cross” — supposedly at his own request, as he deemed himself unworthy to be crucified on the same type of cross as Jesus had been. “The familiar iconography of his martyrdom, showing the apostle bound to an X-shaped cross, does not seem to have been standardized before the later Middle Ages,”

C.S. Lewis

imageIrish novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian, and Christian apologist C. S. Lewis was born on 29th November 1898 in Belfast, Ireland. He is known for both his fictional work, especially The Screwtape Letters, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Space Trilogy and his non-fiction, such as Mere Christianity, Miracles, and The Problem of Pain. Lewis and fellow novelist J. R. R. Tolkien were close friends. Both authors served on the English faculty at Oxford University, and were active in the informal Oxford literary group known as the “Inklings”. At the age of 32 Lewis returned to the Anglican Communion, becoming “a very ordinary layman of the Church of England”. His faith had a profound effect on his work, and his wartime radio broadcasts on the subject of Christianity brought him wide acclaim.

Lewis’s works have been translated into more than 30 languages and have sold millions of copiesAmong his best known novels is The Pilgrim’s Regress, which was written in 1933 shortly after he converted to Christianity, this depicted his experience with Christianity in the style of John Bunyan’s The Pilgrim’s Progress. Lewis also wroteThe “Space Trilogy” (also called the “Cosmic Trilogy” or “Ransom Trilogy”) which dealt with what Lewis saw as the de-humanising trends in contemporary science fiction. The first book, Out of the Silent Planet, was apparently written following a conversation with his friend JRR Tolkien about these trends. Lewis agreed to write a “space travel” story and Tolkien a “time travel” one, but Tolkien never completed “The Lost Road”, linking his Middle-earth to the modern world. Lewis’s main character Elwin Ransom is based in part on Tolkien, a fact Tolkien alludes to in his letters. The second novel, Perelandra, depicts a new Garden of Eden on the planet Venus, a new Adam and Eve, and a new “serpent figure” to tempt them. The story can be seen as an account of what could have happened if the terrestrial Eve had resisted the serpent’s temptation and avoided the Fall of Man. The third novel, That Hideous Strength, develops the theme of nihilistic science threatening traditional human values, embodied in Arthurian legend.Many ideas in the trilogy, particularly opposition to de-humanization as portrayed in the third book, are presented more formally in The Abolition of Man, based on a series of lectures by Lewis at Durham University in 1943.

C.S.Lewis’s best known novels are The Chronicles of Narnia which are a series of seven fantasy novels and are considered classics of children’s literature. Set in the fictional realm of Narnia, a fantasy world of magic, mythical beasts, and talking animals, the series narrates the adventures of various children who play central roles in the unfolding history of that world. Except in The Horse and His Boy, the protagonists are all children from the real world, magically transported to Narnia, where they are called upon by the lion Aslan to protect Narnia from evil and restore the throne to its rightful line. The books span the entire history of Narnia, from its creation in The Magician’s Nephew to its eventual destruction in The Last Battle. The Chronicles of Narnia have also been adapted for stage, TV, radio, and cinema. Inspiration for the series is taken from multiple sources; in addition to adapting numerous traditional Christian themes, the books freely borrow characters and ideas from Greek, Turkish and Roman mythology as well as from traditional British and Irish fairy tales & have profoundly influenced adult and children’s fantasy literature since World War II.

Lewis sadly passed away on 22 November 1963, as the result of renal failure, one week before his 65th birthday. Media coverage of his death was minimal because it was the same day that U.S. President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, and Aldous Huxley, died. Lewis continues to attract a wide readership. In 2008, The Times ranked him eleventh on their list of “the 50 greatest British writers since 1945″. Readers are often unaware of what Lewis considered the Christian themes of his works. His Christian apologetics are read and quoted by members of many Christian denominations. Lewis has been the subject of several biographies. In 1985 the screenplay Shadowlands by William Nicholson, dramatising Lewis’s life and relationship with Joy Davidman Gresham, was aired on British television, starring Joss Ackland and Claire Bloom. This was also staged as a theatre play starring Nigel Hawthorne and made into the 1993 feature film Shadowlands starring Anthony Hopkins and Debra Winger. In 2005, a one-hour television movie entitled C. S. Lewis: Beyond Narnia, starring Anton Rodgers, provided a general synopsis of Lewis’s life. There is A bronze statue of Lewis’s character Digory, from The Magician’s Nephew, in front of Belfast’s Holywood Road Library.

Many books have been inspired by Lewis, including Daniel Handler’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Eoin Colfer’s Artemis Fowl, Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, and J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter. Authors of adult fantasy literature such as Tim Powers have also been influenced by Lewis’s work. Lewis was strongly opposed to the creation of live-action versions of his works. His major concern was that the anthropomorphic animal characters “when taken out of narrative into actual visibility, always turn into buffoonery or nightmare”.Several C. S. Lewis Societies exist around the world and His name is also used by a variety of Christian organisations. Film adaptations have been made of three of The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (2005), Prince Caspian (2008) and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010).Lewis is also featured as a main character in The Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica series by James A. Owen. He is one of two characters in Mark St. Germain’s 2009 play Freud’s Last Session, which imagines a meeting between Lewis, aged 41, and Sigmund Freud, aged 83, at Freud’s house in Hampstead, London, in 1939, as the Second World War is about to break out.

Louisa May Alcott (Little Women)

little-womenAmerican novelist Louisa May Alcott was born November 29, 1832.She is best known as the author of the novel Little Women and its sequels Little Men and Jo’s Boys.Raised by her transcendentalist parents, Abigail May Alcott and Amos Bronson Alcott in New England she grew up among many of the well-known intellectuals of the day such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, and Henry David Thoreau. Nevertheless, her family suffered severe financial difficulties and Alcott worked to help support the family from an early age. She began to receive critical success for her writing in the 1860′s. Early in her career, she sometimes used the pen name A. M. Barnard.Published in 1868, Little Women is set in the Alcott family home, Orchard House, in Concord, Massachusetts and is loosely based on Alcott’s childhood experiences with her three sisters. The novel was very well received and is still a popular children’s novel today. Alcott was an abolitionist and a feminist.The novel follows the lives of four sisters – Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy March – and is loosely based on the author’s childhood experiences with her three sisters.

The first volume, Little Women, was an immediate commercial and critical success, prompting the composition of the book’s second volume, entitled Good Wives, which was also successful. Both books were first published as a single volume entitled Little Women in 1880. Alcott followed Little Women with two sequels, also featuring the March sisters: Little Men and Jo’s Boys. Little Women was a fiction novel for girls that veered from the normal writings for children, especially girls, at the time. Little Women has three major themes:”domesticity, work, and true love. All of them are interdependent and each is necessary to the achievement of a heroine’s individual identity.”Little Women itself “has been read as a romance or as a quest, or both. It has been read as a family drama that validates virtue over wealth.” Little Women has been read “as a means of escaping that life by women who knew its gender constraints only too well.” Alcott “combines many conventions of the sentimental novel with crucial ingredients of Romantic children’s fiction, creating a new form of which Little Women is a unique model.” within Little Women can be found the first vision of the “American Girl” and that her multiple aspects are embodied in the differing March sisters.

Alcott “made women’s rights integral to her stories, and above all to Little Women.”Alcott’s fiction became her “most important feminist contribution”—even considering all the effort Alcott made to help facilitate women’s rights.” Alcott thought that “a democratic household could evolve into a feminist society.” In Little Women, she imagined that just such an evolution might begin with Plumfield, a nineteenth century feminist utopia.”Little Women has a timeless resonance which reflects Alcott’s grasp of her historical framework in the 1860s. The novel’s ideas do not intrude themselves upon the reader because the author is wholly in control of the implications of her imaginative structure. Sexual equality is the salvation of marriage and the family; democratic relationships make happy endings. This is the unifying imaginative frame. Never married, Alcott continued to write until her death, but suffered chronic health problems in her later years, including vertigo. She attributed her illness and death to mercury poisoning. During her American Civil War service, Alcott contracted typhoid fever and was treated with a compound containing mercury.Recent analysis of Alcott’s illness, however, suggests that her chronic health problems may have been associated with an autoimmune disease, not acute mercury exposure. Moreover, a late portrait of Alcott shows rashes on her cheeks, which is a characteristic of lupus. Alcott died at age 55 of a stroke in Boston, on March 6, 1888, two days after her father’s death.She is buried in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, Concord, Massachusetts