Posted in books, Fantasy, films & DVD

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

English author Lewis Carroll ( Charles Lutwidge Dodgson) told Alice Liddell and her sisters a story that would eventually form the basis for his book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland In a rowing boat on the River Thames from Oxford to Godstow, On July 4 1862 and It was subsequently published 4 July 1865. The journey began at Folly Bridge near Oxford and ended five miles away in the village Godstow. During the trip Dodgson told the girls a story that featured a bored little girl named Alice who goes looking for an adventure. The girls loved it, and Alice Liddell asked Dodgson to write it down for her. He began writing the manuscript of the story the next day, although that earliest version no longer exists. The girls and Dodgson took another boat trip a month later when he elaborated the plot to the story of Alice, and in November he began working on the manuscript in earnest. It tells of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as with children.It is considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre. Its narrative course and structure, characters and imagery have been enormously influential in both popular culture and literature, especially in the fantasy genre.

The novel starts with Alice feeling bored and drowsy while sitting on the riverbank with her elder sister who is reading a book with no pictures or conversations. She then notices a talking, clothed White Rabbit with a pocket watch run past. So She follows it down a rabbit hole, suddenly she falls a long way to a curious hall with many locked doors of all sizes. She finds a small key to a door too small for her to fit through, but through it she sees an attractive garden. She then discovers a bottle on a table labelled “DRINK ME,” so she drinks a little and the contents cause her to shrink in size. Unfortunately she leaves the key on the table. So She eats a cake with “EAT ME” written on it in currants.

After eating the cake Alice grows alarmingly and her head hits the ceiling. Alice starts crying and her tears flood the hallway. After shrinking down again Alice swims through her own tears and meets a Mouse, who is swimming as well and tries unsuccessfully to talk to him. The sea of tears becomes crowded with other animals and birds that have been swept away by the rising waters. Alice and the other animals reach the bank and a Dodo decides that the best thing to dry them off would be a Caucus-Race, which consists of everyone running in a circle with no clear winner. Then The White Rabbit appears and Mistaking her for his maidservant, Mary Ann, orders Alice to go into the house and retrieve some gloves but once inside she starts growing. The horrified Rabbit orders his gardener, Bill the Lizard, to climb on the roof and go down the chimney. Outside, Alice hears the voices of animals who hurl pebbles at her, which turn into little cakes and after eating them, Alice shrinks again.

Alice then encounters a blue Caterpillar on a mushroom smoking a hookah, who tells Alice that one side of the mushroom will make her taller while the other side will make her shorter. She breaks off two pieces from the mushroom. One side makes her shrink smaller than ever, while the other causes her to grow alarmingly. Eventually Alice brings herself back to her normal height and discovers a small estate and uses the mushroom to reach a more appropriate height. She sees a Fish-Footman deliver an invitation to the Duchess, who lives at the estate and meets The Duchess’s Cook who is throwing dishes and making a soup that has too much pepper, which causes Alice, the Duchess, and her baby to sneeze violently. Alice is then given the baby by the Duchess which turns into a pig. The Duchess’s Cheshire Cat then directs her to the March Hare’s house.

Here Alice becomes a guest at a “mad” tea party along with the March Hare, the Hatter, and a very tired Dormouse who falls asleep frequently, only to be violently woken up moments later by the March Hare and the Hatter. The characters give Alice many riddles and stories. Eventually though Alice tires of all the inane riddles and leaves claiming that it was the stupidest tea party that she had ever been to. Upon leaving the Tea-Party Alice enters the Queen of Hearts garden and encounters three living playing cards painting the white roses on a rose tree red because The Queen of Hearts hates white roses. A procession of more cards, kings and queens and even the White Rabbit enters the garden. Alice then meets the King and Queen, who is fond of saying “Off with his head!” For the slightest transgression. Alice is invited to play a game of croquet with the Queen and the rest of her subjects but the game quickly descends into chaos. Live flamingos are used as mallets and hedgehogs as balls. The Queen is then prompted by the Cheshire Cat to release the Duchess from prison.

The Duchess is then brought to the croquet ground at Alice’s request, and The Queen of Hearts dismisses her on the threat of execution and introduces Alice to the Gryphon, who takes her to the Mock Turtle and the Gryphon then suggests they play a game. So The Mock Turtle and the Gryphon dance to the Lobster Quadrille, and then the Gryphon drags Alice away for an impending trial where the Knave of Hearts is accused of stealing the Queen’s tarts. The jury is composed of various animals, including Bill the Lizard, the White Rabbit is the court’s trumpeter, and the judge is the King of Hearts. Others Attending the trial include the Hatter, and the Duchess’s cook. Alice is then called upon to give evidence as a witness. During the proceedings, Alice finds to her alarms that she is steadily growing larger and her increasing size causes problems. So The King and Queen order Alice to be gone, citing Rule 42 (“All persons more than a mile high to leave the court”). However Alice disputes their judgement and refuses to leave until the Queen of Hearts eventually shouts “Off With Her Head!”

Posted in books

Franz Kafka

German novellist and short story writer Franz Kafka was born 3 July 1883 into a middle-class, German-speaking Jewish family in Prague, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He trained as a lawyer and, after completing his legal education, obtained employment with an insurance company. He began to write short stories in his spare time. For the rest of his life, he complained about the little time he had to devote to what he came to regard as his calling and regretted having to devote so much attention to his Brotberuf (“day job”, literally “bread job”). Kafka preferred to communicate by letter and wrote hundreds of letters to family and close female friends, including his father, his fiancée Felice Bauer, and his youngest sister Ottla. He had a complicated and troubled relationship with his father that had a major effect on his writing. He also suffered conflict over being Jewish, feeling that it had little to do with him, although critics argue that it influenced his writing.

Only a few of Kafka’s works were published during his lifetime: the story collections betrachtung (Contemplation and Ein Landarzt (A Country Doctor), and individual stories (such as “Die Verwandlung”) in literary magazines. He prepared the story collection Ein Hungerkünstler (A Hunger Artist) for print, but it was not published until after his death. Kafka’s unfinished works, including his novels Der Process, Das Schloss and Amerika (also known as Der Verschollene, The Man Who Disappeared), were published posthumously, mostly by his friend Max Brod, who ignored Kafka’s wish to have the manuscripts destroyed. Albert Camus and Jean-Paul Sartre are among the writers influenced by Kafka’s work; the term Kafkaesque has entered the English language to describe surreal situations like those in his writing. Kafka sadly passed away on 3 June 1924 but his literature had a big impact on literature and film making.

Metamorphosis concerns Gregor Samsa, a traveling salesman, who wakes up to find himself transformed into a giant insect (the most common translation of the German description ungeheuer Ungeziefer, literally “monstrous vermin”). Gregor’s mother becomes concerned when Gregor fails to go to work. His sister, Grete, to whom he is very close, begs him to open the door But he discovers that he can’t get out of bed. Then his office manager, the chief clerk, has shown up to check on him. Unaware of Gregor’s predicament The clerk warns him of the consequences of missing work. Nobody understands a word Gregor says and they conclude that he is seriously ill. Finally, Gregor manages to unlock and open the door with his mouth. He apologizes to the office manager for the delay. Horrified by Gregor’s appearance, his mother faints, and the manager bolts out of the apartment. Gregor tries to catch up with him, but his father drives him back into the bedroom with a shoe and a rolled magazine. Gregor injures himself squeezing back through the doorway, then exhausted, falls asleep.

The next morning, Gregor’s sister comes in, sees that he has not touched the milk which she left and replaces it with rotting food scraps, which Gregor happily eats. This begins a routine in which his sister feeds him and cleans up while he hides under the couch, afraid that his appearance will frighten her. Gregor spends his time listening through the wall to his family members talking about the dire financial situation they find themselves in now and that Gregor can’t provide them any help. Gregor had plans of sending Grete to the conservatory to pursue violin lessons, however his incapability of providing for his family, coupled with his speechlessness proves a bit of an impediment Gregor also learns that his mother wants to visit him, but his sister and father will not let her.

Gregor grows more comfortable with his changed body. He begins climbing the walls and ceiling for amusement. Discovering Gregor’s new pastime, Grete decides to remove some of the furniture to give Gregor more space. She and her mother begin taking furniture away. However Gregor’s mother sees him hanging on the wall and passes out. Grete angrily calls out to Gregor – the first time anyone has spoken directly to him since his transformation. Gregor runs out of the room and into the kitchen. He encounters his father, who has just returned home from work. The father throws apples at Gregor, and one of them sinks into a sensitive spot in his back and Gregor is severely injured.

One evening, the cleaning lady leaves Gregor’s door open while three boarders, whom the family has taken on for additional income, lounge about the living room. Grete has been asked to play the violin for them, and Gregor creeps out of his bedroom to listen however Gregor is seen. As Gregor’s father tries to shove the boarders back into their rooms, the three men leave without paying. Grete, eventually tires of taking care of Gregor and the burden his existence puts on each one in the family, so she tells her parents they must get rid of Gregor…

Kafka is regarded by many critics as one of the most influential authors of the 20th century. Kafka strongly influenced genres such as existentialism. His works, such as “Die Verwandlung” (“The Metamorphosis”), Der Process (The Trial), and Das Schloss (The Castle), are filled with the themes and archetypes of alienation, physical and psychological brutality, parent–child conflict, characters on a terrifying quest, labyrinths of bureaucracy, and mystical transformations.

Posted in books

Ernest Hemingway

American author and journalist Ernest Hemingway sadly committed suicide on July 2, 1961. He was Born July 21, 1899 and was raised in Oak Park, Illinois. Ernest Hemingway’s mother Grace Hall Hemingway began writing about him, in a series of scrapbooks documenting the future author’s childhood, She began by describing how the sun shone and robins sang on the day in July 1899 when Hemingway was born. The scrapbooks also contain childhood paintings and tell of Hemingway playing the cello, suiting up for a ‘lightweight’ football squad and taking up boxing. During his junior year of high school, he was on his school’s prom committee and, according to a report card note from his Latin teacher, showed ‘improvement both in attitude and work.’

By the time Hemingway was five, his mother noted that he was collecting war cartoons and had an appreciation for characters with courage.’He loves stories about Great Americans,’ she wrote. The scrapbooks have a plethora of family photos from the Hemingway family’s home in Oak Park, Illinois, and their vacation cottage on a lake in Northern Michigan, including shots of a bare-bottomed baby Hemingway playing in the water by a canoe.They include letters to Hemingway and others he wrote as a child, including a note of contrition in which he confessed to bad behavior in church.’My conduct tomorrow will be good,’ 13-year-old Hemingway promised.

As Hemingway matured, the scrapbooks showcased his earliest attempts at the craft that would come to define his professional life. Among them were a short story from his high school’s literary magazine, clippings from some of his first assignments as a high school newspaper reporter and a sonnet in which 16-year-old Hemingway seemed to poke fun at himself.’Nobody likes Ernest, that, is straight stuff,’ he said, ‘and when he writes stories – we all cry “Enough.”

After high school he reported for a few months for The Kansas City Star, before leaving for the Italian front to enlist with the World War I ambulance drivers. However In 1918, he was seriously wounded and returned home. His wartime experiences formed the basis for his novel A Farewell to Arms. In 1922, he married Hadley Richardson, the first of his four wives. The couple moved to Paris, where he worked as a foreign correspondent, and fell under the influence of the modernist writers and artists of the 1920s “Lost Generation” expatriate community. The Sun Also Rises, Hemingway’s first novel, was published in 1926.

Hemingway produced most of his work between the mid-1920s and the mid-1950s, and won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954. He published seven novels, six short story collections and two non-fiction works. Three novels, four collections of short stories and three non-fiction works were published posthumously. Many of these are considered classics of American literature and . His economical and understated style had a strong influence on 20th-century fiction, while his life of adventure and his public image also influenced later generations. In 1927 Hemingway divorced his first wife Hadley Richardson and married Pauline Pfeiffer, However They also divorced after he returned from the Spanish Civil War where he had acted as a journalist, and after which he wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls. Martha Gellhorn became his third wife in 1940. However They separated when he met Mary Welsh in London during World War II. Hemingway was also present at the Normandy Landings and liberation of Paris.

Shortly after the publication of The Old Man and the Sea in 1952, Hemingway went on safari to Africa, where he was almost killed in two successive plane crashes that left him in pain or ill-health for much of the rest of his life. Hemingway had permanent residences in Key West, Florida, and Cuba during the 1930s and 1940s, but in 1959 he moved from Cuba to Ketchum, Idaho. A farewell to Arms remains a popular novel and ‘The scrapbooks his Mother created are part of the collection that Hemingway’s widow, Mary, gifted to the JFK Library and Museum after the author’s 1961 suicide and The contents of five Hemingway scrapbooks are also available online, giving fans and scholars the chance to follow the life of one of the 20th century’s literary greats from diapers to high school degree.

Posted in books

Vladimir Nabokov

Russian-born American novelist, poet, translator and entomologist Vladimir Nabokov sadly died 2 July 1977. He was born 22 April [O.S. 10 April] 1899 in Saint Petersburg, to a wealthy and prominent family of the Russian nobility that traced its roots to the 14th-century Tatar prince Nabok Murza, who entered into the service of the Tsars, and from whom the family name is derived. His father was the liberal lawyer, statesman, and journalist Vladimir Dmitrievich Nabokov  and his mother was the heiress Yelena Ivanovna née Rukavishnikova, the granddaughter of a millionaire gold-mine owner. His father was a leader of the pre-Revolutionary liberal Constitutional Democratic Party and wrote numerous books and articles about criminal law and politics. His cousins included the composer Nicolas Nabokov. His paternal grandfather, Dmitry Nabokov (1827–1904), was Russia’s Justice Minister during the reign of Alexander II. His paternal grandmother was the Baltic German Baroness Maria von Korff. He was also related to the composer Carl Heinrich Graun . Vladimir had four younger siblings: Sergey, Olga, Elena and Kirill. Sergey was killed in a Nazi concentration camp in 1945 after publicly denouncing Hitler’s regime. Ayn Rand recalled Olga (her close friend at Stoiunina Gymnasium) as a supporter of constitutional monarchy who first awakened Rand’s interest in politics.

Nabokov spent his childhood and youth in Saint Petersburg and at the country estate Vyra near Siverskaya, south of the city. . The family spoke Russian, English, and French in their household, and Nabokov was trilingual from an early age. The first English book his mother read to him was Misunderstood (1869) by Florence Montgomery.

In 1916, Nabokov published his first book, Stikhi (“Poems”), a collection of 68 Russian poems whilst attending Tenishev school in Saint Petersburg. Nabokov also inherited the estate Rozhdestveno, next to Vyra, from his uncle Vasily Ivanovich Rukavishnikov, but lost it in the October Revolution in 1917. After this, Nabokov’s father became a secretary of the Russian Provisional Government in Saint Petersburg. After the October Revolution, the family fled St. Petersburg for Crimea, and lived at a friend’s estate until September 1918 when they moved to Livadiya, at the time part of the Ukrainian Republic; Nabokov’s father became a minister of justice in the Crimean Regional Government.

After the withdrawal of the German Army in November 1918 and the defeat of the White Army (early 1919), the Nabokovs sought exile in western Europe. They settled briefly in England and Vladimir enrolled in Trinity College of the University of Cambridge, first studying zoology, then Slavic and Romance languages. His examination results on the first part of the Tripos, taken at the end of second year, were a starred first. He sat the second part of the exam in his fourth year, just after his father’s death which was marked second-class. His final examination result was second-class, and his BA conferred in 1922. Nabokov later drew on his Cambridge experiences to write several works, including the novels Glory and The Real Life of Sebastian Knight.

In 1920, Nabokov’s family moved to Berlin, where his father set up the émigré newspaper Rul’ (“Rudder”). Nabokov followed them to Berlin two years later, after completing his studies at Cambridge. Unfortunately Nabokov’s father was fatally shot in Berlin in 1922 by the Russian monarchist Pyotr Shabelsky-Bork as he was trying to shield the real target, Pavel Milyukov, a leader of the Constitutional Democratic Party-in-exile. Shortly after this, Nabokov’s mother and sister moved to Prague, however Nabokov stayed in Berlin, where he had become a recognised poet and writer within the émigré community and published under the nom de plume V. Sirin (a reference to the fabulous bird of Russian folklore). Nabokov also taught languages and gave tennis and boxing lessons. He stayed in Berlin for fifteen years within the lively Russian community of Berlin He knew little German and few Germans except for landladies, shopkeepers, and immigration officials at the police headquarters

In 1922, Nabokov became engaged to Svetlana Siewert; she broke off the engagement in early 1923, her parents worrying that he could not provide for her. In May 1923, he met a Russian-Jewish woman, Véra Evseyevna Slonim, at a charity ball in Berlin. They married in April 1925. Their only child, Dmitri, was born in 1934. In 1936, Véra lost her job because of the increasingly anti-Semitic environment; also in that year the assassin of Nabokov’s father was appointed second-in-command of the Russian émigré group. In 1937, he left Germany for France, where he had a short affair with Russian émigrée Irina Guadanini. His family followed him to France, making en route their last visit to Prague, then spent time in Cannes, Menton, Cap d’Antibes, and Fréjus and finally settled in Paris. Between 1926–38 Nabokov also wrote His first nine novels in Russian. In May 1940, the Nabokovs fled the advancing German troops to the United States on board the SS Champlain, with the exception of Nabokov’s brother Sergei, who died at the Neuengamme concentration camp on 9 January 1945.

The Nabokovs settled in Manhattan and Vladimir began volunteer work as an entomologist at the American Museum of Natural History. e Nabokovs resided in Wellesley, Massachusetts, during the 1941–42 academic year, Whereupon Nabokov joined the staff of Wellesley College in 1941 as resident lecturer in comparative literature and Nabokov is remembered as the founder of Wellesley’s Russian Department. In September 1942 they moved to Cambridge, where they lived until June 1948. Following a lecture tour through the United States, Nabokov returned to Wellesley for the 1944–45 academic year as a lecturer in Russian. In 1945, he became a naturalized citizen of the United States. He served through the 1947–48 term as Wellesley’s one-man Russian Department, offering courses in Russian language and literature. He was also the curator of lepidoptery at Harvard University’s Museum of Comparative Zoology. In 1948 Nabokov left Wellesley to teach Russian and European literature at Cornell University, where he taught until 1959. Among his students at Cornell was future U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

In June 1953 Nabokov and his family went to Ashland, Oregon. There he finished Lolita and began writing the novel Pnin. He roamed the nearby mountains looking for butterflies, and wrote a poem called Lines Written in Oregon. On 1 October 1953, he and his family returned to Ithaca, New York, where he would later teach the young writer Thomas Pynchon

In 1955 Nabokov wrote Lolita while travelling on butterfly-collection trips in the western United States that he undertook every summer. Véra acted as “secretary, typist, editor, proofreader, translator and bibliographer; his agent, business manager, legal counsel and chauffeur; his research assistant, teaching assistant and professorial understudy”. Lolita became a great financial success and Nabokov returned to Europe and devoted himself to writing. His son obtained a position as an operatic bass at Reggio Emilia. On 1 October 1961, he and Véra moved to the Montreux Palace Hotel in Montreux, Switzerland; he stayed there until the end of his life. In 1962 he published Pale Fire. He also took tours to the Alps, Corsica, and Sicily to hunt butterflies and became an expert lepidopterist. Sadly In 1976 he was hospitalized with a fever doctors were unable to diagnose. He was rehospitalized in Lausanne in 1977, suffering from severe bronchial congestion. He died on 2 July in Montreux surrounded by his family His remains were cremated and buried at the Clarens cemetery in Montreux.

At the time of his death, he was working on a novel titled The Original of Laura. Véra and Dmitri which were entrusted with Nabokov’s literary executorship, In April 2008, Dmitri announced that he would publish the novel and The Original of Laura was published on 17 November 2009. Prior to this, several short excerpts of The Original of Laura were made public: German weekly Die Zeit reproduced some of Nabokov’s original index cards obtained by its reporter Malte Herwig in its 14 August 2008 issue. In the accompanying article Herwig concluded that Laura, although fragmentary, is “vintage Nabokov”. Lolita has since been ranked fourth in the list of the Modern Library 100 Best Novels in 2007 pale Fire was also ranked 53rd on the same list; and his memoir, Speak, Memory (1951), was listed eighth on publisher Random House’s list of the 20th century’s greatest nonfiction He was a finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction seven time

Nabokov became known as one of the leading prose stylists of the 20th century and is noted for his complex plots, clever word play, daring metaphors, and prose style capable of both parody and intense lyricism. He gained both fame and notoriety with his novel Lolita (1955), which tells of a grown man’s devouring passion for a twelve-year-old girl. This and his other novels, particularly Pale Fire (1962), won him a place among the greatest novelists of the 20th century. His longest novel, which met with a mixed response, is Ada (1969). He devoted more time to the composition of this novel than any of his others. Nabokov’s fiction is characterized by linguistic playfulness. His short story “The Vane Sisters” is famous in part for its acrostic final paragraph, in which the first letters of each word spell out a message from beyond the grave. In another of his short stories, “Signs andSymbols”, Nabokov creates a character suffering from an imaginary illness called “Referential Mania,” in which the afflicted is faced with a world of environmental objects exchanging coded messages.

Posted in books

Gone with the wind by Margaret Mitchell

Margaret Mitchell’s Pulitzer Prize Winning epic romance Gone with the Wind, was published 30 June1936. The novel is set in Clayton County, Georgia, and Atlanta during the American Civil War (1861–1865) and the Reconstruction Era (1865–1877) that followwhere the war. Set against the backdrop of rebellion, during which seven southern states, including Georgia declare their secession from the United States (the “Union”) and form the Confederate States of America (the “Confederacy”), after Abraham Lincoln was elected president. A dispute over states’ rights has arisen involving enslaved African people.

it begins April 1861 at the “Tara” plantation, which is owned by a wealthy Irish immigrant family, the O’Haras including sixteen-year-old Scarlett O’Hara. Scarlett learns that Ashley Wilkes, is getting engaged to his cousin, Melanie Hamilton and informs Ashley she loves him. However he refuses her marriage proposal. Then Scarlett meets local rogue Rhett Butler alone in the library and learns that war has been declared. Seeking revenge for being jilted by Ashley, Scarlett accepts a proposal of marriage from Melanie’s brother, Charles Hamilton. They marry two weeks later. Charles dies from measles two months after the war begins. Widowed Scarlett is pregnant with her first child and gives birth to a boy, Wade Hampton Hamilton, named after his father’s general. As a widow, she is bound by tradition to wear black and avoid conversation with young men much to her chagrin.

Melanie, who is living in Atlanta invites Scarlett to live with them. In Atlanta, Scarlett’ begins Work at the hospital for the Confederate army & encounters Rhett Butler again at a dance for the Confederacy. The men must bid for a dance with a lady and Rhett bids for a dance with Scarlett shocking everyone, however Melanie defends Rhett because of his support for the Confederate cause. Ashley is granted some land by the army and returns to Atlanta to be with Melanie. Atlanta is under siege from the Union (September 1864), and descends into a desperate state while hundreds of wounded Confederate soldiers lie dying or dead in the city. Melanie goes into labour with only the inexperienced Scarlett to assist, as all the doctors are busy attending the soldiers. In the chaos, Scarlett, is left to fend for herself, and the Confederate States Army sets Atlanta ablaze as they abandon it.

Melanie gives birth to a boy named “Beau”, Scarlett , Melanie, Beau, and Prissy seek refuge at Tara and they follow the retreating army out of Atlanta. Rhett then enlists in the army. So Scarlett makes her way to Tara alone where she discovers that Gerald is ill, Her mother is dead andher sisters are sick with typhoid fever, the field slaves have all left after Emancipation, the Yankees have burned all the cotton and there is no food in the house. So begins a desperate journey for post-war survival. A number of Confederate soldiers returning home stop at Tara to find food and rest including Cracker, Will Benteen, and Ashley Wilkes. However Just as Life at Tara is beginning to recover there is more trouble,so Scarlett goes to Atlanta to ask Rhett Butler for help but finds him languishing in jail. Scarlett also runs into Frank Kennedyand they marry two weeks later. Frank wants Scarlett to be happy So he gives her the money to pay the taxes on Tara. In return Scarlett helps at Frank’s store and finds many People owe him money, so she recovers all the debts and runs his business while he is away.

After receiving aloan from Rhett she buys her own sawmill. However Scarlett learns she is pregnant, again & convinces Ashley to come to Atlanta and manage the mill. Scarlett gives birth to a girl named Ella Lorena’. Then Scarlett is almost robbed but she escapes with the help of Big Sam, the former foreman from Tara. Sadly Frank is shot dead in the nearby Shanty Town. And Scarlett finds herself widowed for a second time. Meanwhile Rhett, Hugh Elsing and Ashley deny any knowledge of the raid in the nearby Shanty Town using the brothel as an alibi

Rhett the asks Scarlett to marry him and she agrees. Shortly after The engagement the Butlers move into their new home, Eventually they have two children Wade and Eugenie Victoria whom Melanie nicknames “Bonnie Blue,” after the Bonnie Blue Flag of the Confederacy. Later Melanie gives a surprise birthday party for Ashley and Scarlett. unfortunately Ashley’s sister India Wilkes sees Scarlett and Ashley together at the sawmill beforehand and stirs trouble by spreading rumours of an adulterous relationship between Ashley and Scarlett. Having heard the rumours Rhett returns home drunk and violent leaving town the following morning with Bonnie and Prissy, Scarlett then learns that she is pregnant with her fourth child. Rhett eventually returns a sober, gentler more considerate man, he finds Scarlett seriously ill having lost the baby and broken her ribs. After recovering she returns to Atlanta & sells the mills to Ashley. Bonnie grows up to be a spirited and willful child, who has Rhett wrapped around her finger and giving into her every demand, even buying Bonnie a Shetland pony and teaching her to jump however just when things start looking up tragedy strikes

Posted in books

Catherine Cookson

Prolific English author Dame Catherine Ann Cookson, DBE was born 27 June 1906 at 5 Leam Lane in Tyne Dock, South Shields, County Durham. She moved to East Jarrow, County Durham. The illegitimate child of an alcoholic named Kate Fawcett, she grew up thinking her unmarried mother was her sister, as she was brought up by her grandparents, Rose and John McMullen. Biographer Kathleen Jones tracked down her father, whose name was Alexander Davies, a bigamist and gambler from Lanarkshire. She left school at 14 and, after a period of domestic service, took a laundry job at Harton Workhouse in South Shields. In 1929, she moved south to run the laundry at Hastings Workhouse, saving every penny to buy a large Victorian house, and then taking in lodgers to supplement her income. In June 1940, at the age of 34, she married Tom Cookson, a teacher at Hastings Grammar School. After experiencing four miscarriages late in pregnancy, it was discovered she was suffering from a rare vascular disease, telangiectasia, which causes bleeding from the nose, fingers and stomach and results in anemia. A mental breakdown followed the miscarriages, from which it took her a decade to recover.
She took up writing as a form of therapy to tackle her depression, and joined Hastings Writers’ Group. Her first novel, Kate Hannigan, was published in 1950. Though it was labelled a romance, she expressed discontent with the stereotype. Her books were, she said, historical novels about people and conditions she knew. Cookson had little connection with the London literary circus. She was always more interested in practising the art of writing. Her research could be uncomfortable—going down a mine, for instance, because her heroine came from a mining area. Having in her youth wanted to write about ‘above stairs’ in grand houses, she later and successfully concentrated on people ground down by circumstances, taking care to know them well. Her upbringing in County Durham inspired one of her best-known novels, The Fifteen Streets

Cookson went on to write almost 100 books, which sold more than 123 million copies, her novels being translated into at least 20 languages. She also wrote books under the pseudonyms Catherine Marchant and a name derived from her childhood name, Katie McMullen. She remained the most borrowed author from public libraries in the UK for 17 years, up until four years after her death, losing the top spot to Jacqueline Wilson only in 2002.

Many of Cookson’s novels have also been adapted for film, radio, Television and the stage. The first film adaptation of her work was Jacqueline (1956), directed by Roy Ward Baker, based on her book A Grand Man. It was followed by Rooney (1958), directed by George Pollock, based on her book Rooney. Both starred John Gregson. For commercial reasons, the action of both films was transferred from South Shields to Ireland. In 1983 Katie Mulholland was adapted into a stage musical by composer Eric Boswell and writer-director Ken Hill. Cookson attended the première. Eighteen Cookson novels have been adapted for television. They were all produced by Ray Marshall from Festival Film & TV who was given permission by Cookson in 1988 to bring her works to the screen. The first film to be made, The Fifteen Streets starring Sean Bean & Owen Teale, was nominated for an Emmy award in 1990. The second production, The Black Velvet Gown, won an International Emmy for Best Drama in 1991. The mini series regularly attracted audiences over 10 million and are still showing in the UK on Drama and the Yesterday Channel.


Cookson was also very philanthropic, In 1985, she pledged more than £800,000 to the University of Newcastle. In gratitude, the university set up a lectureship in hematology. Some £40,000 was given to provide a laser to help treat bleeding disorders and £50,000 went to create a new post in ear, nose and throat studies, with particular reference to the detection of deafness in children. She had already given £20,000 towards the university’s Hatton Gallery and £32,000 to its library. In recognition of this generosity, a building in the university medical faculty has been named after her. Her foundation continues to make donations to worthy causes in the UK, particularly those offering services to young people and cultural ventures, such as the Tyneside Cinema. She was created an Officer of the Order of the British Empire in 1985 in honour of her writing career and philanthropy and was elevated to Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1993. Cookson received the Freedom of the Borough of South Tyneside, and an honorary degree from the University of Newcastle. The Variety Club of Great Britain named her Writer of the Year, and she was voted Personality of the North East.

In later life, Cookson and her husband Tom returned to the North East and settled first in Haldane Terrace, Jesmond. They then moved to Corbridge, a market town near Newcastle, and later to Langley, Northumberland, a small village nearby. As her health declined, they moved for a final time to the Jesmond area of Newcastle upon Tyne to be nearer medical facilities. For the last few years of her life, she was bed-ridden and she gave her final TV interview to North East Tonight, the regional ITV Tyne Tees news programme, from her sickbed. It was conducted by Mike Neville.

Catherine Cookson sadly died 11 June 1998 at the age of 91, sixteen days before her 92nd birthday, at her home in Newcastle. Her novels, many written from her sickbed, continued to be published posthumously until 2002. Tom died on 28 June 1998, just 17 days later. He had been hospitalised for a week and the cause of his death was not announced. He was 86 years old. In 2008, the Dame Catherine Cookson Memorial Garden was unveiled in the grounds of South Tyneside District Hospital in South Shields, based on the theme of a serpentine symbol,(aesclepius) commonly used to symbolise health and caring. The hospital occupies the site of the Harton Workhouse, where Cookson worked from 1924 to 1929. The project was partly funded by the Catherine Cookson Trust. Tom and Catherine, a musical about the couple’s life, was written by local playwright Tom Kelly. It played to sell-out crowds at the Customs House in South Shields.

Posted in books

Ford Maddox Ford

English novelist, poet, critic and editor Ford Madox Ford sadly died in Deauville, France, on 26 June 1939. He was born 17 December 1873. He used the name of Ford Madox Hueffer and in 1919 changed it to Ford Madox Ford (allegedly, in the aftermath of World War I because “Hueffer” sounded too German in honour of his grandfather, the Pre-Raphaelite painter Ford Madox Brown, whose biography he had written. In 1894 he married his school girlfriend Elsie Martindale and together they had two daughters Christina (born 1897) and Katharine (born 1900).

Between 1918 and 1927 he lived with Stella Bowen, an Australian artist twenty years his junior. In 1920 they had a daughter, Julia Madox Ford. One of his most famous works is The Good Soldier (1915), a novel set just before World War I which chronicles the tragic lives of two “perfect couples” using intricate flashbacks. In the “Dedicatory Letter to Stella Ford”, his wife, that prefaces the novel, Ford reports that a friend pronounced The Good Soldier “the finest French novel in the English language!” Ford pronounced himself a “Tory mad about historic continuity” and believed the novelist’s function was to serve as the historian of his own time.

Ford was involved in British war propaganda after the beginning of World War I. He worked for the War Propaganda Bureau, managed by C. F. G. Masterman, with other writers and scholars who were popular during that time, such as Arnold Bennett, G. K. Chesterton, John Galsworthy, Hilaire Belloc and Gilbert Murray. Ford wrote two propaganda books for Masterman, namely When Blood is Their Argument: An Analysis of Prussian Culture (1915), with the help of Richard Aldington, and Between St Dennis and St George: A Sketch of Three Civilizations (1915). After writing the two propaganda books, Ford enlisted at 41 years of age into the Welch Regiment on 30 July 1915, and was sent to France, His combat experiences and his previous propaganda activities inspired his tetralogy Parade’s End (1924–1928), set in England and on the Western Front before, during and after World War I.

Ford also wrote dozens of novels as well as essays, poetry, memoirs and literary criticism, and collaborated with Joseph Conrad on three novels, The Inheritors (1901), Romance (1903) and The Nature of a Crime (1924, although written much earlier). During the three to five years after this direct collaboration, Ford’s best known achievement was The Fifth Queen trilogy (1906–1908), historical novels based on the life of Katharine Howard, which Conrad termed, at the time, “the swan song of historical romance.”His poem,Antwerp (1915), was praised by T.S. Eliot as “the only good poem I have met with on the subject of the war”.Ford’s novel Ladies Whose Bright Eyes (1911, extensively revised in 1935) is, in a sense, the reverse of Twain’s novel A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court.

In 1908, he founded The English Review, in which he published works by Thomas Hardy, H. G. Wells, Joseph Conrad, Henry James,May Sinclair, John Galsworthy and William Butler Yeats, and gave debuts to Wyndham Lewis, D. H. Lawrence and Norman Douglas. In 1924, he founded The Transatlantic Review, a journal with great influence on modern literature. Staying with the artistic community in the Latin Quarter of Paris, he befriended James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Ezra Pound[and Jean Rhys, all of whom he would publish (Ford is the model for the character Braddocks in Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises). Ford says, “I helped Joseph Conrad, I helped Hemingway. I helped a dozen, a score of writers, and many of them have beaten me. I’m now an old man and I’ll die without making a name like Hemingway.” Hemingway devoted a chapter of his Parisian memoir A Moveable Feast to an encounter with Ford at a café in Paris during the early 1920s.

During a trip to the United States, he was involved with Allen Tate, Caroline Gordon, Katherine Anne Porter and Robert Lowell. Ford was always a champion of new literature and literary experimentation. In 1929, he published The English Novel: From the Earliest Days to the Death of Joseph Conrad, a brisk and accessible overview of the history of English novels. He had an affair with Jean Rhys, which ended acrimoniously. Ford spent the last years of his life teaching at Olivet College in Michigan, and died in Deauville, France. However his journals, The English Review and The Transatlantic Review, were instrumental in the development of early 20th-century English literature. He is now remembered best for his publicationsThe Good Soldier (1915), the Parade’s End tetralogy (1924–28) and The Fifth Queentrilogy (1906–08). The Good Soldier is frequently included among the great literature of the 20th century, including the Modern Library 100 Best Novels, The Observer’s “100 Greatest Novels of All Time”, and The Guardian’s “1000 novels everyone must read”.

Posted in books

Laurie Lee MBE

English poet, novelist, and screenwriter,Laurence Edward Alan “Laurie” Lee, MBE was born 26 June 1914 in Stroud. In 1917 Lee moved with his family to the village of Slad and went to Marling School, Gloucestershire, At twelve, Laurie went to the CentalBoys’ School in Stroud and left at fifteen to become an errand boy at a Chartered Accountantsin Stroud. In 1931 he first found the Whiteway Colony, two miles from Slad, a colony founded by Leo Tolstoyan Anarchists. It gave him his first smattering of politicization and was where he met the composer Benjamin Frankel and the ‘Cleo’ who appears in As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning. In 1933 he met Sophia Rogers, an “exotically pretty girl with dark curly hair” who had moved to Slad from Buenos Aires, an influence on Lee who said later in life that he only went to Spain because “a girl in Slad from Buenos Aires taught me a few words of Spanish.”

At twenty he worked as an office clerk and a builder’s labourer, and lived in London for a year before leaving for Vigo, northwest Spain, in the summer of 1935. From there he travelled across Spain as far as Almuñecar on the coast of Andalusia. Walking more often than not, he eked out a living by playing his violin. After the outbreak of the Spanish Civil War in July 1936 Lee was picked up by a British destroyer from Gibraltar, collecting marooned British subjects on the southern Spanish coast. He started to study for an art degree but returned to Spain in 1937 as an International Brigade volunteer. However his service in the Brigade was cut short by his epilepsy.

These experiences were recounted in A Moment of War (1991), an austere memoir of his time as a volunteer in the Spanish Civil War. During this period, he also made documentary films for the GPO Film Unit (1939–40) and the Crown Film Unit (1941–43). From 1944 to 1946 and worked as the Publications Editor for the Ministry of Information. Lee’s first love was always poetry, though he was only moderately successful as a poet, Lee’s first poem appeared in The Sunday Referee in 1934. Another poem was published in Cyril Connolly’s Horizon in 1940 and his first volume of poems, The Sun My Monument, was launched in 1944. This was followed by The Bloom of Candles (1947) and My Many-coated Man (1955). Several poems written in the early 1940s reflect the atmosphere of the war, but also capture the beauty of the English countryside.

However Lee’s most famous work was an autobiographical trilogy which consisted of Cider with Rosie (1959) which captured images of village life from a bygone era of innocence and simplicity , As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning (1969), which deals with his leaving home for London and his first visit to Spain in 1935 and A Moment of War (1991). Which deals with his return to Spain in December 1937 to join the Republican International Brigades. Other works include A Rose for Winter, about a trip he made to Andalusia fifteen years after the Civil War; Two Women (1983), a story of Lee’s courtship and marriage with Kathy, daughter of Helen Garman; The Firstborn (1964), about the birth and childhood of their daughter Jessye; and I Can’t Stay Long (1975), a collection of occasional writing. Lee also wrote travel books, essays, a radio play, and short stories. Laurie Lee sadly passed away 3 May 1997 but his classic novels continue to be popular and remain required reading in many schools. They have also been adapted for screen, television and radio many times.

Posted in books

George Orwell

English novelist and journalist George Orwell, (Eric Arthur Blair) was Born on 25 June 1903, in Motihari, Bihar, in India, His work is marked by clarity, intelligence and wit, awareness of social injustice, opposition to totalitarianism, and belief in democratic socialism. Although Orwell wrote literary criticism, poetry, fiction and polemical journalism. He is best known for the dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four (1949) and the allegorical novella Animal Farm (1945), which together have sold more copies than any two books by any other 20th-century author. His book Homage to Catalonia (1938), an account of his experiences in the Spanish Civil War, is widely acclaimed, as are his numerous essays on politics, literature, language and culture. In 2008, The Times ranked him second on a list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945″. Orwell’s work continues to influence popular and political culture, and the term Orwellian — descriptive of totalitarian or authoritarian social practices — has entered the vernacular with several of his neologisms, such as doublethink, thoughtcrime, Big Brother and thought police.

Nineteen Eighty-Four

Nineteen Eighty-Four was published in 1949. It is a dystopian and satirical novel set in Oceania, where society is tyrannized by The Party and its totalitarian ideology. The Oceanian province of Airstrip One is a world of perpetual war, omnipresent government surveillance, and public mind control, dictated by a political system euphemistically named English Socialism (Ingsoc) under the control of a privileged Inner Party elite that persecutes all individualism and independent thinking as thoughtcrimes.

Their tyranny is headed by Big Brother, the quasi-divine Party leader who enjoys an intense cult of personality, but who may not even exist. Big Brother and the Party justify their rule in the name of a supposed greater good. The novel’s protagonist Winston Smith, is a member of the Outer Party who works for the Ministry of Truth (Minitrue), which is responsible for propaganda and historical revisionism. As a sort of Spin Doctor. Smith is a diligent and skillful worker, but he secretly hates the Party and dreams of rebellion against Big Brother.

As literary political fiction and as dystopian science-fiction, Nineteen Eighty-Four is a classic novel in content, plot, and style. Many of its terms and concepts, such as Big Brother, doublethink, thoughtcrime, Newspeak, and memory hole, have entered everyday use since its publication in 1949. Nineteen Eighty-Four spawned the term Orwellian, to describe official deception, secret surveillance, and manipulation of the past by a totalitarian or authoritarian state. In 2005 the novel was chosen by TIME magazine as one of the 100 best English-language novels from 1923 to 2005. It was awarded a place on both lists of Modern Library 100 Best Novels, reaching number 13 on the editor’s list, and 6 on the reader’s list. In 2003, the novel was listed at number 8 on the BBC’s survey The Big Read.

Animal Farm

Animal Farm is an allegorical novella which addresses corruption, wickedness, ignorance, greed, myopia and indifference. It was published in England in 1945 and reflects events leading up to the Russian Revolution of 1917, and then on into the Stalin era in the Soviet Union. Orwell, a democratic socialist, was a critic of Joseph Stalin and hostile to Moscow-directed Stalinism, especially after his

experiences with the NKVD and the Spanish Civil War. The Soviet Union he believed, had become a brutal dictatorship, built upon a cult of personality and enforced by a reign of terror. In a letter to Yvonne Davet, Orwell described Animal Farm as his novel “contre Stalin” and in his essay of 1946, Why I Write, he wrote that Animal Farm was the first book in which he had tried, with full consciousness of what he was doing, “to fuse political and artistic purpose into one whole”.

The original title was Animal Farm: A Fairy Story, but the subtitle was dropped by U.S. publishers for its 1946 publication. Other variations in the title include: A Satire and A Contemporary Satire. Orwell suggested the title Union des républiques socialistes animales for the French translation, which recalled the French name of the Soviet Union, Union des républiques socialistes soviétiques, and which abbreviates to URSA, the Latin for “bear”, a symbol of Russia. It was written Between November 1943-February 1944, when the wartime alliance with the Soviet Union was at its height and Stalin was held in highest esteem in Britain both among the people and intelligentsia, a fact that Orwell hatt

It was initially rejected by a number of British and American publishers, including one of Orwell’s own, Victor Gollancz. Although Its publication was delayed it became a great commercial success when it appeared— partly because the Cold War so quickly followed WW2. Time magazine chose the book as one of the 100 best English-language novels (1923 to 2005); it also places at number 31 on the Modern Library List of Best 20th-Century Novels. It won a Retrospective Hugo Award in 1996 and is also included in the Great Books of the Western World. Both 1984 and Animal Farm have also been adapted for film and television numerous times, notably starring John Hurt as Winston Smith. There is also an animated version of Animal Farm.

Posted in books, films & DVD

H. Rider Haggard KBE

English novellist Sir Henry Rider Haggard, KBE was born 22 June 1856 in Bradenham, Norfolk, and studied at Garsington Rectory in Oxfordshire under Reverend H. J. Graham but unlike his older brothers who graduated from various private schools, he attended Ipswich Grammar School. In 1875, Haggard’s father sent him to South Africa, to take up an unpaid position as assistant to the secretary to Sir Henry Bulwer, Lieutenant-Governor of the Colony of Natal. In 1876 he was transferred to the staff of Sir Theophilus Shepstone, Special Commissioner for the Transvaal. I was in this role that Haggard was present in Pretoria in April 1877 for the official announcement of the British annexation of the Boer Republic of the Transvaal. In 1878 he became Registrar of the High Court in the Transvaal, and wrote to his father informing him that he intended to return to England. When Haggard eventually returned to England, he married a friend of his sister, (Mariana) Louisa Margitson in 1880. And they settled in Ditchingham, Norfolk, Louisa’s ancestral home. Later they lived in Kessingland and had connections with the church in Bungay, Suffolk.

After returning to England in 1882, Haggard published a book on the political situation in South Africa and handful of unsuccessful novels, before writing the book for which he is most famous, King Solomon’s Mines. He accepted a 10% royalty rather than ₤100 for the copyright. A sequel, Allan Quatermain, soon followed, and She and its sequel Ayesha, swashbuckling adventure novels set in the context of the Scramble for Africa (the action of Ayesha however happens in Tibet). Due to this The hugely popular King Solomon’s Mines is sometimes considered the first of the Lost World genre and features the heroic Zulu warrior Umslopogaas and Ignosi, the rightful king of Kukuanaland, while Sheon the other hand is generally considered to be one of the classics of imaginative literature . He is also remembered for Nada the Lily (a tale of adventure among the Zulus) and the epic Viking romance, Eric Brighteyes. Three of Haggard’s novels were written in collaboration with his friend Andrew Lang who shared his interest in the spiritual realm and paranormal phenomena.

Haggard also studied law and was called to the bar in 1884 and He stood unsuccessfully for Parliament as a Conservative candidate for the Eastern division of Norfolk in the 1895 summer election, losing by only 198 votes.Haggard was also heavily involved in reforming agriculture and was a member of many commissions on land use and related affairs, work that involved several trips to the Colonies and Dominions Haggard also wrote about agricultural and social reform, in part inspired by his experiences in Africa, but also based on what he saw in Europe and this eventually led to the passage of the 1909 Development Bill.

Haggard’s Lost World genre influenced popular American pulp writers such as Edgar Rice Burroughs, Robert E. Howard, Talbot Mundy, Philip José Farmer and Abraham Merritt and his stories are still widely read today. Ayesha, the female protagonist of She, has been cited as a prototype by psychoanalysts as different as Sigmund Freud (in The Interpretation of Dreams) and Carl Jung. Her epithet “She Who Must Be Obeyed” is used by British author John Mortimer in his Rumpole of the Bailey series as the private name which the lead character uses for his wife, Hilda, before whom he trembles at home (despite the fact that he is a barrister with some skill in court). Allan Quatermain, the adventure hero of King Solomon’s Mines and its sequel Allan Quatermain, was a template for the American character Indiana Jones, featured in the films Raiders of the Lost Ark, Temple of Doom, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, and Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Quatermain has gained recent popularity thanks to being a main character in the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. Haggard was praised in 1965 by Roger Lancelyn Green, one of the Oxford Inklings, as a writer of a consistently high level of “literary skill and sheer imaginative power” and a co-originator with Robert Louis Stevenson of the Age of the Story Tellers. The first chapter of his book People of the Mist is credited with inspiring the motto of the Royal Air Force (formerly the Royal Flying Corps), Per ardua ad astra.

In recognition of his agricultural reforms Haggard was made a Knight Bachelor in 1912 and a Knight Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1919. towards the end of his life he also became a staunch opponent of Bolshevism, a position he shared with his friend Rudyard Kipling, with whom he had bonded upon Kipling’s arrival at London in 1889, and the two remained lifelong friends. Haggard sadly passed away 14 May 1925 at the age 68. His ashes were buried at Ditchingham Church and his papers are held at the Norfolk Record Office