Alice McDermott’s birthday - HISTORY
Year
1953

Alice McDermott’s birthday

National Book Award winner Alice McDermott is born this day in Brooklyn to first-generation Irish-Catholic parents in 1953.

McDermott’s Irish-Catholic upbringing on Long Island became the subject of much of her writing. She went to college at the State University of New York at Oswego, then worked in publishing for a year, unsuccessfully trying to rid herself of the writing bug. She went to graduate school at the University of New Hampshire and soon began publishing short stories in women’s magazines. Her first novel, A Bigamist’s Daughter, came out in 1982. Her second, That Night (1987), was nominated for the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize.

McDermott and her husband, a neuroscientist, have three children and lived in San Diego and Pittsburgh before settling in Bethesda. She taught at Johns Hopkins University while continuing to write novels, including At Weddings and Wakes (1992) and Charming Billy (1998), which beat out the favorite, Tom Wolfe’s A Man in Full, for the National Book Award. Her 2006 novel After This was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize.

ALSO ON THIS DAY

Smithson’s curious bequest

In Genoa, Italy, English scientist James Smithson dies after a long illness, leaving behind a will with a peculiar footnote. In the event that his only nephew died without any heirs, Smithson decreed that the whole of his estate would go to “the United States of America, to found ...read more

Mormon leader killed by mob

Joseph Smith, the founder and leader of the Mormon religion, is murdered along with his brother Hyrum when an anti-Mormon mob breaks into a jail where they are being held in Carthage, Illinois.Born in Vermont in 1805, Smith claimed in 1823 that he had been visited by a Christian ...read more

Truman orders U.S. forces to Korea

On June 27, 1950, President Harry S. Truman announces that he is ordering U.S. air and naval forces to South Korea to aid the democratic nation in repulsing an invasion by communist North Korea. The United States was undertaking the major military operation, he explained, to ...read more

U.S. troops liberate Cherbourg, France

On this day in 1944, the Allies capture the fortified town and port of Cherbourg, in northwest France, freeing it from German occupation. Hitler had for all intents and purposes anticipated his own defeat when, in contrast with the analysis of his advisers, he accurately ...read more

Germans get Enigma

On this day in 1940, the Germans set up two-way radio communication in their newly occupied French territory, employing their most sophisticated coding machine, Enigma, to transmit information.The Germans set up radio stations in Brest and the port town of Cherbourg. Signals ...read more

U.S. forces begin to evacuate Khe Sanh

The U.S. command in Saigon confirms that U.S. forces have begun to evacuate the military base at Khe Sanh, 14 miles below the Demilitarized Zone and six miles from the Laotian border. The command statement attributed the pullback to a change in the military situation. To cope ...read more

Kennedy appoints Lodge as ambassador

President John F. Kennedy appoints Henry Cabot Lodge, his former Republican political opponent, to succeed Frederick E. Nolting as ambassador to Vietnam. The appointing of Lodge and the recall of Nolting signaled a change in U.S. policy in South Vietnam. Lodge was a firm believer ...read more

Tyson knocks out Spinks

On June 27, 1988, heavyweight champion Mike Tyson knocks out challenger Michael Spinks 91 seconds into the first round. The decisive victory left the boxing world wondering if anyone could beat “Iron Mike” Tyson.Mike Tyson was born on June 30, 1966, in Brooklyn, New York. He had ...read more

JFK visits Ireland

John F. Kennedy, an Irish-American and the first Catholic to become president of the United States, arrives in Ireland for a visit on this day in 1963.Kennedy was proud of his Irish roots and made a special visit to his ancestral home in Dunganstown, County Wexford, while in the ...read more

“Frankly, My Dear…”

On this day in 1939, one of the most famous scenes in movie history is filmed–Rhett Butler and Scarlett O’Hara parting in Gone with the Wind. Director Victor Fleming also shot the scene using the alternate line, “Frankly, my dear, I just don’t care,” in case the film censors ...read more

Ebola breaks out in Sudan

A factory storekeeper in the Nzara township of Sudan becomes ill on this day in 1976. Five days later, he dies, and the world’s first recorded Ebola virus epidemic begins making its way through the area. By the time the epidemic is over, 284 cases are reported, with about half ...read more

Four-time thief escapes Baumes law

Marcley pleads guilty to attempted larceny of a motorcycle in New York. Since this was his first offense, he received a suspended sentence, which, after the establishment of Baumes law five years later, saved him from later serving a life sentence.In 1922, Marcley stole a couple ...read more