Samuel Taylor Coleridge

English poet, literary critic and philosopher Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born on 21 October 1772 in the country town of Ottery St Mary, Devon, England. In 1781, 8-year-old Samuel was sent to Christ’s Hospital, a charity school founded in the 16th century in Greyfriars, London, where became friends with Charles Lamb, and studied the works of Virgil and William Lisle Bowles.From 1791 until 1794, Coleridge attended Jesus College, Cambridge. In 1792, he won the Browne Gold Medal for an ode that he wrote on the slave trade. In December 1793, he left the college and enlisted in the Royal Dragoons using the false name “Silas Tomkyn Comberbache”. Whilst At the university, he was introduced to political and theological ideas then considered radical, including those of the poet Robert Southey. Coleridge joined Southey in a plan, soon abandoned, to found a utopian commune-like society, called Pantisocracy, in the wilderness of Pennsylvania.
Between 1797 and 1798, he lived at Coleridge Cottage, in Nether Stowey, Somerset, and In 1795, Coleridge met poet William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy. (Wordsworth, having visited him and being enchanted by the surroundings, rented Alfoxton Park, a little over three miles [5 km] away.) Besides the Rime of The Ancient Mariner, he composed the symbolic poem Kubla Khan, written—Coleridge himself claimed—as a result of an opium dream, in “a kind of a reverie”; and the first part of the narrative poem Christabel. The writing of Kubla Khan, written about the Mongol emperor Kublai Khan and his legendary palace at Xanadu, was said to have been interrupted by the arrival of a “Person from Porlock” — an event that has been embellished upon in such varied contexts as science fiction and Nabokov’s Lolita. During this period, he also produced his much-praised “conversation” poems This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison, Frost at Midnight, and The Nightingale.
In 1798, Coleridge and Wordsworth published a joint volume of poetry, Lyrical Ballads, which proved to be the starting point for the English romantic age, the star of the collection was Coleridge’s first version of The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Coleridge also worked briefly in Shropshire, where he came in December 1797 as locum to its local Unitarian minister, Dr Rowe, in their church in the High Street at Shrewsbury. He is said to have read his Rime of the Ancient Mariner at a literary evening in Mardol and was contemplating a career in the ministry. In 1798, Coleridge and Wordsworth travelled to Germany, where they became interested in German philosophy, especially the transcendental idealism and critical philosophy of Immanuel Kant, and in the literary criticism of the 18th century dramatist Gotthold Lessing. Coleridge studied German and, after his return to England, translated the dramatic trilogy Wallenstein by the German Classical poet Friedrich Schiller into English. In 1799, Coleridge and Wordsworth stayed at Sockburn, near Darlington. It was here that Coleridge wrote his ballad-poem Love, addressed to Sara. The knight mentioned is the mailed figure on the Conyers tomb in ruined Sockburn church. The figure has a wyvern at his feet, a reference to the Sockburn Worm slain by Sir John Conyers (and a possible source for Lewis Carroll’s Jabberwocky). The poem was a direct inspiration for John Keats’ famous poem La Belle Dame Sans Merci.
Around 1800 he settled with his family and friends at Keswick in the Lake District of Cumberland to be near Grasmere, where Wordsworth had moved. In 1804, he travelled to Sicily and Malta, However he returned to England in 1806 but returned to Malta in 1897 and then travelled in Sicily and Italy, in the hope that leaving Britain’s damp climate would improve his health and thus enable him to reduce his consumption of opium. it was during this period that Coleridge became a full-blown opium addict, using the drug as a substitute for the lost vigour and creativity of his youth.In 1809, Coleridge made his second attempt to become a newspaper publisher and published a weekly journal entitled The Friend, which he wrote, edited, and published almost entirely single-handedly. Despite many financial difficulties The Friend became a highly influential work drawing upon every corner of Coleridge’s remarkably diverse knowledge of law, philosophy, morals, politics, history, and literary criticism, and it ran for 25 issues and was republished in book form a number of times. Between 1810 and 1820, Coleridge gave a series of lectures in London and Bristol – those on Shakespeare renewed interest in the playwright as a model for contemporary writers. Much of Coleridge’s reputation as a literary critic is founded on the lectures that he undertook in the winter of 1810–11. These lectures were heralded in the prospectus as “A Course of Lectures on Shakespeare and Milton, in Illustration of the Principles of Poetry.” Coleridge’s ill-health, opium-addiction problems, and somewhat unstable personality meant that all his lectures were plagued with problems of delays and a general irregularity of quality from one lecture to the next.
However, His lecture on Hamlet in 1812 is considered the best and has influenced Hamlet studies ever since. In August 1814, Coleridge was approached by Lord Byron’s publisher, John Murray, about the possibility of translating Goethe’s classic Faust (1808). Coleridge was regarded by many as the greatest living writer on the demonic so he accepted the commission. In 1817, Coleridge, with his addiction worsening, his spirits depressed, and his family alienated, took residence in Highgate, where he finished the Biographia Literaria (1817), a volume composed of 23 chapters of autobiographical notes and dissertations on various subjects, including some incisive literary theory and criticism. He also composed much poetry here and had many inspirations — a few of them from opium overdose, including Sibylline Leaves (1817), Aids to Reflection (1825), and Church and State (1826). Coleridge remained here for the rest of his life, and tragically died in Highgate, London on 25 July 1834 as a result of heart failure compounded by an unknown lung disoirder. The house has since become a place of literary pilgrimage.

For Whom the Bell tolls by Ernest Hemingway

The first edition of the Ernest Hemingway novel For Whom the Bell Tolls was published 21 October 1940. The novel graphically describes the brutality of the civil war in Spain during this time. It is told primarily through the thoughts and experiences of the protagonist, Robert Jordan. It draws on Hemingway’s own experiences in the Spanish Civil War as a Reporter for the North American Newspaper Alliance.

The novel features Jordan, an American who has lived in Spain during the pre-war period, and fights in the International Brigades for the Republic against Francisco Franco’s fascist forces. An experienced dynamiter, he is ordered by a Soviet general to travel behind enemy lines and destroy a bridge with the aid of a band of local anti-fascist guerrillas, in order to prevent enemy troops from responding to an upcoming offensive. On his mission, Jordan meets the rebel Anselmo who brings him to the hidden guerrilla camp and initially acts as an intermediary between Jordan and the other guerrilla fighters.

In the camp, Jordan encounters María, a young Spanish woman whose life had been shattered by her parents’ execution and her rape at the hands of the Falangists (part of the fascist coalition) at the outbreak of the war. His strong sense of duty clashes with both the unwillingness of the guerrilla leader Pablo to commit to an operation that would endanger himself and his band, and Jordan’s own new-found lust for life which arises from his love for María. Pablo’s wife, Pilar, usurps Pablo’s leadership and pledges the allegiance of the guerrillas to Jordan’s mission. However, when another band of anti-fascist guerrillas, led by El Sordo, is surrounded and killed, Pablo steals the dynamite and detonators hoping to prevent the demolition and thereby avoid fascist reprisals. Although he disposes of the detonators by throwing them down a gorge into the river, Pablo regrets abandoning his comrades and returns to assist in the operation.

However, the enemy, learns of the coming offensive,  and prepares to ambush it in force. Regardless of this, Jordan understands that he must still demolish the bridge in an attempt to prevent Fascist reinforcements from overwhelming his allies. Lacking the detonation equipment stolen by Pablo, Jordan plans an alternative method to explode the dynamite by using hand grenades with wires attached so that their pins can be pulled from a distance. This improvised plan is considerably more dangerous because the men must be closer to the explosion. While Pablo, Pilar, and other guerrilla members attack the posts at the two ends of the bridge, Jordan and Anselmo plant and detonate the dynamite. While escaping, Anselmo dies and Jordan is maimed. Knowing he would only slow his comrades down, he bids goodbye to María and ensures that she escapes to safety with the surviving guerrillas…

Ursula k. LeGuin

American Sci-fi and Fantasy novelist Ursula K. Le Guin, was born in Berkeley, California, on October 21, 1929. Her father Alfred Louis Kroeber was an anthropologist at the University of California, Berkeley. Le Guin’s mother Theodora Kroeber had a graduate degree in psychology, but turned to writing in her sixties. She developed a successful career as an author: her best known work was Ishi in Two Worlds, a biographical volume about Ishi, an indigenous American who was the last known member of the Yahi tribe. Ursula had three older brothers, Karl, Theodore, and Clifton. The family had a large book collection, and the siblings all became interested in reading while they were young. The Kroeber family knew well-known academics such as Robert Oppenheimer. Le Guin would later use Oppenheimer as the model for her protagonist in The Dispossessed.

The family divided its time between a summer home in the Napa valley, and a house in Berkeley during the academic year. Le Guin’s reading included science fiction and fantasy: she and her siblings frequently read issues of Thrilling Wonder Stories and Astounding Science Fiction. She was fond of myths and legends, particularly Norse mythology, and of Native American legends that her father would narrate. Le Guin developed an early interest in writing; she wrote a short story when she was nine, and submitted her first short story to Astounding Science Fiction when she was eleven and She was also interested in biology and poetry but had difficulties with mathematics. Le Guin attended Berkeley High School. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Renaissance French and Italian literature from Radcliffe College in 1951, and graduated as a member of the Phi Beta Kappa honor society. Le Guin undertook graduate studies at Columbia University, and earned a Master of Arts in French in 1952. Soon after, she began working towards a Ph.D., and won a Fulbright grant to continue her studies in France from 1953 to 1954.

In 1953, she traveled to France aboard the Queen Mary, And met historian Charles Le Guin, whom she married in Paris in December 1953. While her husband finished his doctorate at Emory University in Georgia, and later at the University of Idaho, Le Guin taught French and worked as a secretary until the birth of her daughter Elisabeth in 1957. In 1959 Charles became an instructor in history at Portland State University, and the couple moved to Portland, Oregon. Le Guin received further Fulbright grants to travel to London in 1968 and 1975. The couple had two daughters, Elisabeth and Caroline, by the time they moved, and a son, Theodore, was born in Portland in 1964.

Le Guin began writing in the 1950s, but the time she spent caring for her children constrained her writing schedule. She also became an editor and a teacher at the undergraduate level. She served on the editorial boards of the journals Paradoxa and Science Fiction Studies, in addition to writing literary criticism herself. She also taught courses at Tulane University, Bennington College, and Stanford University, among others.

Le Guin’s first published work was the poem “Folksong from the Montayna Province” in 1959, while her first short story was “An die Musik”, in 1961; both were set in her fictional country of Orsinia. Between 1951 and 1961 she also wrote five novels, all set in Orsinia, which were rejected by publishers on the grounds that they were inaccessible. Some of her poetry from this period was published in 1975 in the volume Wild Angels. Le Guin turned her attention to science fiction after lengthy periods of receiving rejections from publishers, knowing that there was a market for writing that could be readily classified as such. Her first professional publication was the short story “April in Paris” in 1962 in Fantastic Science Fiction, and four other stories followed in the next few years, in Fantastic or Amazing Stories Among them was The Dowry of the Angyar, which introduced the fictional Hainish Universe, and “The Rule of Names” and “The Word of Unbinding”, which introduced the world of Earthsea.

Rocannon’s World, Le Guin’s first published novel was released in 1966. Followed by, Planet of Exile and City of Illusions these became known as the Hainish Trilogy and contained many themes and ideas also present in Le Guin’s later works, including the “archetypal journey”, cultural contact and communication, the search for identity, and reconciling opposing forces. Le Guin’s next two books brought her sudden and widespread critical acclaim. A Wizard of Earthsea, published in 1968, was a fantasy coming of age story set in the fictional archipelago of Earthsea, the book received a positive reception in both the US and Britain

Her next novel, The Left Hand of Darkness, was a Hainish Universe story exploring themes of gender and sexuality on a fictional planet where humans have no fixed sex. it won both the Hugo and the Nebula Awards for best novel, making Le Guin the first woman to win these awards, and a number of other accolade. A Wizard of Earthsea and The Left Hand of Darkness were described by critic Harold Bloom as Le Guin’s masterpieces. She won the Hugo Award again in 1973 for The Word for World is Forest. Between 1966 and 1974, Le Guin also wrote the Hugo Award-winning “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” and the Nebula Award-winning “The Day Before the Revolution”, the next two novels in the Earthsea series, The Tombs of Atuan and The Farthest Shore, were published in 1971 and 1972. Her next novel The Dispossessed, was published in 1974 and took place in the Hainish Universe and explored anarchism and utopianism. This won both the Hugo and the Nebula awards for best novel, making her the first person to win both for the same two books.

However Le Guin refused a Nebula Award for her story “The Diary of the Rose” in 1975, in protest at the Science Fiction Writers of America’s revocation of Stanisław Lem’s membership. Le Guin attributed the revocation to Lem’s criticism of American science fiction and willingness to live in the Soviet Union, and said she felt reluctant to receive an award “for a story about political intolerance from a group that had just displayed political intolerance”.

Next Le Guin published the speculative fiction collection The Wind’s Twelve Quarters, the novels The Eye of the Heron, Orsinian Tales, Malafrena and Far Away from Anywhere Else, a realistic novel for adolescents, in 1979 she released a collection of essays entitled The Language of the Night and a volume of poetry entitled Wild Angels. Between 1979, and 1994, Le Guin wrote primarily for a younger audience releasing an adolescent fantasy novel called The Beginning Place, the experimental Always Coming Home together with 11 children’s picture books, between 1979 and 1994. Le Guin also wrote four more poetry collection and another Earthsea novel Tehanu in 1992. In 1983 she delivered a commencement address entitled “A Left-Handed Commencement Address” at Mills College in Oakland, California.

In 1990 Le Guin published – “The Shobies’ Story” containing the story “Coming of Age in Karhide”. She also published Four Ways to Forgiveness, and “Old Music and the Slave Women”, and In 2000 she published The Telling, her final Hainish novel. Several collections and anthologies of Le Guin’s work were also published. A series of her stories from the period 1994–2002 was released in 2002 Including The Birthday of the World and Other Stories, the novella Paradises Lost, the novel Changing Planes and the anthology The Unreal and the Real. In 2008 she published Lavinia, this was based on a character from Virgil’s Aeneid and the Annals of the Western Shore trilogy, consisting of Gifts, Voices and Powers which received the Nebula Award for Best Novel in 2009.

Le Guin’s final publication, was a collection of non-fiction, titled Dreams Must Explain Themselves. Le Guin also resigned from the Authors Guild in protest over its endorsement of Google’s book digitization project. “You decided to deal with the devil”, she wrote in her resignation letter. “There are principles involved, above all the whole concept of copyright; and these you have seen fit to abandon to a corporation, on their terms, without a struggle. In a speech at the 2014 National Book Awards, Le Guin criticized Amazon and the control it exerted over the publishing industry, specifically referencing Amazon’s treatment of the Hachette Book Group during a dispute over ebook publication. Sadly. Le Guin died on January 22, 2018, at her home in Portland, Oregon at the age of 88 having been in poor health She was survived by her husband Charles and her three children. Private memorial services for her were held in Portland and A public memorial service, which included speeches by Margaret Atwood, Molly Gloss, and Walidah Imarisha, was held in Portland in June 2018.

Kate Mosse OBE

Best known for writing some fantastic novels including Labyrinth, Sepulchre, Citadel, The Taxidermist’s Daughter, the Cave, the Mistletoe bride and The Burning Chamber, Bestselling Novellist Kate Mosse OBE was born 20 October 1961 in Chichester and was educated at Chichester High School For Girls and New College, Oxford. She graduated from university in 1981 with a BA (Hons) in English. After graduation, she spent seven years in publishing in London, working for Hodder & Stoughton, then Century, and finally as an editorial director at Hutchinson, part of the Random House Group. She was a member of the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) and Women in Publishing. She left publishing in 1992, to begin her writing career and to help setting up a new literary prize, and published two works of non-fiction and two novels. Mosse married old school friend Greg, after meeting him again ten years later on a train by chance and currently lives with him and her family in Chichester and Carcassonne after having bought a small house in Carcassonne in the Languedoc region of southwest France, the inspiration for her bestselling trilogy of historical timeslip novels Labyrinth, Sepulchre and Citadel. She moved back to her home town of Chichester in 1998 to take the position of executive director of Chichester Festival Theatre.

In 2001, she began writing the first of the series, Labyrinth, which was published in 2005. Her bestselling books have sold millions of copies in more than 40 countries. Although best known for her adventure and ghost fiction, inspired by real history, Mosse’s first two works were non-fiction. Becoming A Mother (in its seventh edition) was published by Virago in 1993, followed in 1995 by The House: Behind the Scenes at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, published by BBC Books to accompany the award-winning BBC 2 fly-on-the-wall documentary series of the same name. She then turned her hand to fiction, publishing two contemporary novels. Eskimo Kissing, about a young, adopted woman searching for her background, was published to critical acclaim in 1996. This was followed in 1998 by the biotech thriller, Crucifix Lane.

Part of Labyrinth is set in Medieval Carcasonne during 1209 on the night before a brutal civil crusade to rid the land of Cathars and concerns a young woman named Alais (Jessica Brown Findlay) who works as a healer and herbalist and finds a dead man in the river with his thumb cut off. Anais then finds herself custodian of the mysterious Book of Words, Although she cannot understand the symbols and diagrams the book contains, Alais finds out that the book could reveal the location of The Holy Grail itself and knows her destiny lies in protecting their secret, at all costs, Meanwhile back in modern day Languedoc an amatuer Archeologist named Alice Tanner (Vanessa Kirby) discovers two skeletons during an archaeological dig in a mysterious cave which has strange symbols drawn on the walls and contains a Ring. She begins to suspect that that she has unearthed a link with a horrific and brutal past. But it’s not just the sight of the shattered bones that makes her uneasy; there’s an overwhelming sense of evil in the tomb that Alice finds hard to shake off. Puzzled by the words carved inside the chamber, Alice has an uneasy feeling that she has disturbed something which was meant to remain hidden and finds herself drawn into a conspiricy involving an age old mystery concerning The location of the Book of Words and the Holy Grail. Television rights were sold to Scott Free and Tandem Communications and the Labyrinth miniseries was broadcast in 2013. The cast included John Hurt, Janet Suzman, Jessica Brown Findlay, Tom Felton, and Sebastian Stan.

In October 2007, the second novel in the trilogy, Sepulchre, was published. A tale of haunting and Tarot set in 18th Century Paris and Languedoc and 20th-century France, it was also a number one bestseller in the UK and an international bestseller which starts In 1891 and features, Leone Vernier, a young girl living in Paris until she is invited to live at Domaine de la Cade, a stately home in Rennes-les-Bains, which is owned by Léonie’s deceased uncle Jules and his wife Isolde. Meanwhile In the present day, an American, Meredith Martin, is in France to research the life of Claude Debussy for a biography she is writing. She is also trying to find out more about her biological mother and she visits Domaine de la Cade, which has been turned into a hotel and uncovers information that links her lineage to that of Léonie Vernier and discovers the terrifying events that occurred in the haunted abandoned Sepulchre which is situated in the grounds of Domaine de la Cade. the stories of Léonie and Meredith are brought together by a series of visions that are related to the Sepulchre, in the grounds of the Domaine de la Cade

Citadel, the third novel in the trilogy, came out in 2013 and was also an international bestseller. Inspired by the real history of the resistance in Carcassonne during World War II, Set in and around Carcassonne and the Languedoc region of France, it features an imagined all-female resistance unit. it explores the incredible history, legends and hidden secrets of the area. Set during World War II in the far south of France, the novel is described as a powerful, action-packed mystery that reveals the secrets of the resistance under Nazi occupation. While war blazed in the trenches at the front, back at home a different battle is waged, full of clandestine bravery, treachery and secrets. And as a cell of resistance fighters, codenamed Citadelle, fight for everything they hold dear, their struggle will reveal an older, darker combat being fought in the shadows. Combining the rugged action of LABYRINTH with the haunting mystery of SEPULCHRE, CITADEL is a story of daring and courage, of lives risked for beliefs and of astonishing secrets buried in time. While Mosse was researching Citadel, she released The Winter Ghosts in 2009, based on a novella she previously contributed to the Quick Reads Initiative. Film rights have been sold to Ruby Films and in October 2013, Mosse’s collection of short stories, The Mistletoe Bride & Other Haunting Tales, was published – a collection of ghost stories inspired by traditional folk tales and country legends from England and France, throughout Sussex, Brittany and the Languedoc. There has also been a lavish two-part 2013 TV adaptation based on Kate Mosse’s novel Labyrinth which was made by Ridley Scott’s production company, Scott Free.

Jonathan Swift

Satirist, essayist, poet and cleric Jonathan Swift sadly passed away on 19 October 1745 (aged 77), shortly after having a stroke. He 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. Sadly by 1738 Swift began to show signs of illness, and in 1742 he may have suffered a stroke, losing the ability to speak. Following his death he 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.

 

Moby Dick by Herman Melville

Considered to be a classic of American Literature, Moby Dick by Herman Melville, was fiirst published as The Whale by Richard Bentley of London On 18 October 1851. The story tells the adventures of wandering sailor Ishmael who finds work on a whaling ship . So On a cold, gloomy night in December, he arrives at the Spouter-Inn in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and ends up sharing a room with a, a heavily tattooed Polynesian harpooner named Queequeg. Over time the two become close friends and decide to sail together from Nantucket, Massachusetts, on an ill fated whaling voyage, aboard the Pequod, commanded by the illusive Captain Ahab, who is nowhere to be seen. The two friends encounter a mysterious man named Elijah on the dock after they sign their papers who hints that Ahab could be trouble. Then Ishmael spots dark figures in the mist, apparently boarding the Pequod shortly before it sets sail on Christmas Morning. The ship’s officers direct the early voyage while Ahab stays in his cabin. The chief mate is, Starbuck, a serious, sincere Quaker and fine leader; second mate is Stubb, happy-go-lucky and cheerful and always smoking his pipe; the third mate is Flask, short and stout but thoroughly reliable. Some time after sailing, Ahab finally appears on the quarter-deck one morning, an imposing, frightening figure whose haunted visage sends shivers over the narrator. One of his legs is missing from the knee down and has been replaced by a prosthesis fashioned from a sperm whale’s jawbone.

After gathering the crewmen together, with a rousing speech Ahab secures their support for his single, secret purpose for this voyage: hunting down and killing Moby Dick, an old, very large sperm whale, with a snow-white hump and mottled skin, that crippled Ahab on his last whaling voyage and destroyed Ahab’s ship, driving Ahab to take revenge. Only Starbuck shows any sign of resistance to the charismatic but monomaniacal captain. . Eventually even Starbuck acquiesces to Ahab’s will, though harboring serious misgivings. Ahab meanwhile, has secretly brought along his own boat crew, including a mysterious harpooneer named Fedallah (also referred to as ‘the Parsee’), an inscrutable figure with a sinister influence over Ahab, who predicts bad things will occur during the voyage.

After entering the Pacific Ocean. Queequeg becomes deathly ill and requests that a coffin be built for him by the ship’s carpenter. Just as everyone has given up hope word is heard from other whalers of Moby Dick. The jolly Captain Boomer of the Samuel Enderby, who has lost an arm to the whale, is stunned at Ahab’s burning need for revenge. Next they meet the Rachel, which has seen Moby Dick very recently and has lost many crew as a result of the encounter, but Ahab is resolute in his quest. They then meet another vessel ‘Delight” who have had a crew member killed by Moby Dick.

The next day, the Pequod encounters Moby Dick, and Ahab gives the order to clobber him. Moby Dick on the other hand is having none of it and wreaks havoc causing widespread destruction, inadvertently drowning many people in the process, and it becomes clear that while Ahab is a vengeful whale-hunter, Moby Dick, while dangerous and fearless, is not motivated to hunt humans but by self preservation. So Starbuck exhorts Ahab one last time to desist, sadly though Ahab decides to ignore the voice of reason and continue with his ill-fated chase which predictably ends in tragedy for most of the crew of the Pequod who meet a watery fate…

Moby Dick has also been adapted for screen and television numerous times, most notably starring Gregory Peck and Patrick Stewart as Captain Ahab.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S.Lewis🦁🚪🧙‍♀️

The first book in the Chronicles of Narnia series “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe” was published by C.S. Lewis on October 16 1950. It starts In 1940, and concerns four siblings – Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy Pevensie  who are evacuated from London during World War II In order to escape the Blitz and are sent to the countryside to live with professor Digory Kirke. Whilst exploring the professor’s house, Lucy finds a wardrobe which doubles as a magic portal in a mythical land called Narnia. Which is under the spell of an evil White witch called Jadis.

In Narnia Lucy meets Tumnus, a faun, who invites her to tea in his home. There the faun confesses that he invited her not out of hospitality, but with the intention of betraying her to the White Witch. The witch has ruled Narnia for years, using magic to keep it frozen in a perpetual winter. She has ordered all Narnians to turn in any humans (“Sons of Adam” or “Daughters of Eve”) they come across. But now that he has come to know and like a human, Tumnus decides to escort Lucy back to the lamppost instead. Lucy returns through the wardrobe and finds that only a few seconds have passed in normal time during her absence. Her siblings do not believe her story about another world inside the wardrobe, which is now found to have a solid back panel.

During another game of hide-and-seek, Lucy again passes into Narnia. This time her brother Edmund follows her. In Narnia Edmund meets Jadis, who calls herself Queen of Narnia and acts friendly. When she learns that he is human and has two sisters and a brother. She urges him to bring his siblings to her castle, promising in return to make him her heir, however she has a sinister ulterior motive. When Lucy and Edmund return together through the wardrobe, Edmund realizes that the queen he met and the witch Lucy describes are one and the same. He denies to the others that he has been in Narnia at all. Peter and Susan are puzzled by Lucy’s insistence, and consult the Professor.

Soon afterward, all four children enter Narnia together after hiding in the wardrobe to avoid the professor’s dour housekeeper, Mrs. Macready. Remembering the winter cold ahead, they take coats from the wardrobe before exploring. Lucy guides them to Tumnus’s cave, but they find it ransacked, with a notice from Jadis (the White Witch) proclaiming his arrest for harbouring humans. A talking beaver intercepts them, proves himself a friend, and hides the children in his den. There, he and Mrs. Beaver tell them of a prophecy that Jadis’s power will fail when two Sons of Adam and two Daughters of Eve fill the four thrones at Cair Paravel. Aslan, the great lion and the rightful King, has been absent for many years but is now “on the move again” in Narnia. Edmund creeps away unseen to Jadis’s castle, which is filled with statues of Narnian victims she has turned to stone. Jadis is furious when Edmund appears alone and angrier still to learn that Aslan may have returned. She takes him on her sledge to catch the others or to reach Aslan’s court before them.

Meanwhile, Mr Beaver realises that Edmund has betrayed them, and they set off at once to seek Aslan at the Stone Table. As they travel, the Witch’s spell over Narnia begins to break: Father Christmas (who has not been seen in Narnia for a hundred years) arrives with magical presents: a sword for Peter, a horn and a bow with arrows for Susan, a knife and a bottle of healing cordial for Lucy. As the snow starts to thaw they meet Aslan who welcomes the children and the Beavers to his camp near the Stone Table. Upon hearing Edmund’s situation, he orders a rescue party of loyal Narnians.

Despite his treachery, Edmund is eventually rescued and reunited with his siblings. Jadis approaches in truce to parley with Aslan. She insists that, according to “deep magic from the dawn of time”, she holds the right to kill Edmund following his treason And Aslan pays a heavy price for Edmunds treachery. Now confident of victory, Jadis the White Witch, leads her army away to battle. However Much to Jadis’s surprise The Stone Table breaks and Aslan unexpectedly reappears. Then Aslan, Susan and Lucy travel to Jadis’s Castle to rescue everyone who has been turned to stone by Jadis. Meanwhile, Peter and Edmund lead the rest of the Narnians against Jadis, however Edmund is seriously wounded. Then Aslan arrives with  reinforcements and Aslan, Edmund, Susan, Peter and Lucy all lead the Narnians in an exciting Battle against Jadis and the forces of evil…