Literary

“The Guinness Book of Records” debuts

On this day in 1955, the first edition of “The Guinness Book of Records” is published in Great Britain; it quickly proves to be a hit. Now known as the “Guinness World Records” book, the annual publication features a wide range of feats related to humans and animals. To date, the ...read more

Author Maya Angelou dies

On this day in 2014, author and poet Maya Angelou, who published more than 30 books, including 1969’s “I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings,” a best-selling memoir about the racism and abuse she experienced growing up, dies at 86 at her home in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. In ...read more

Gabriel Garcia Marquez dies at age 87

On this day in 2014, Nobel Prize-winning author Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whose novels include “One Hundred Years of Solitude” and “Love in the Time of Cholera,” dies at his Mexico City home at age 87. The Colombian-born Garcia Marquez, a master of magical realism, a writing style ...read more

Best-selling crime writer Elmore Leonard dies

On this day in 2013, the prolific, best-selling author Elmore Leonard, whose crime novels include “Get Shorty,” “Rum Punch” and “Out of Sight,” dies at age 87 in Bloomfield Village, Michigan. Known for his pitch-perfect dialogue, sparse prose and offbeat characters, Leonard ...read more

Moneyball author Michael Lewis is born

On this day in 1960, Michael Lewis, author of such nonfiction best-sellers as “Moneyball” and “The Blind Side,” is born in New Orleans. Lewis studied art history at Princeton University, graduating in 1982, and earned a degree from the London School of Economics. He went on to ...read more

Da Vinci Code author Dan Brown is born

On this day in 1964, Dan Brown, author of the international blockbuster “The Da Vinci Code” as well as other best-selling thrillers, is born in New Hampshire. Brown’s extensively researched novels are known for involving symbols, conspiracies and secret societies. The three books ...read more

Curious George co-creator Margret Rey dies

On this day in 1996, Margret Rey, who with her husband Hans created the popular “Curious George” children’s books about a mischievous monkey, dies at age 90 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The Reys, both German Jews, escaped wartime Europe in 1940 and fled to America. The following ...read more

George R.R. Martin’s Game of Thrones debuts

On this day in 1996, “A Game of Thrones,” an epic fantasy novel by George R.R. Martin, is released. The book was the first in Martin’s “A Song of Ice and Fire” series, about feuding medieval noble families on an imaginary continent called Westeros. Although not initially a ...read more

Ernest Hemingway is born

On this day in 1899, Ernest Miller Hemingway, author of such novels as “For Whom the Bell Tolls” and “The Old Man and the Sea,” is born in Oak Park, Illinois. The influential American literary icon became known for his straightforward prose and use of understatement. Hemingway, ...read more

Acclaimed author Cormac McCarthy is born

On this day in 1933, best-selling novelist Cormac McCarthy, whose books include “All the Pretty Horses,” “No Country for Old Men” and “The Road,” which won the Pulitzer Prize, is born in Providence, Rhode Island. McCarthy’s novels, often set in the American Southwest, are known ...read more

Tipping Point author Malcolm Gladwell born

On this day in 1963, Malcolm Gladwell, author of such non-fiction best-sellers as “The Tipping Point,” “Blink” and “Outliers,” is born in Fareham, Hampshire, England. Known for taking a counterintuitive look at questions about modern life, Gladwell’s writing has explored ...read more

Kite Runner author Khaled Hosseini is born

On this day in 1965, Khaled Hosseini, author of the best-selling novel “The Kite Runner,” is born in Kabul, Afghanistan. Hosseini’s semiautobiographical book was credited with helping to educate Western readers about Afghanistan, a country many of them knew little about. As a ...read more

Judy Blume, popular young-adult author, is born

On this day in 1938, best-selling author Judy Blume, known for her children’s books and young-adult novels, including “Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing” and “Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret,” is born in Elizabeth, New Jersey. Blume’s books have been beloved by several ...read more

“Charlotte’s Web” author E.B. White born

On this day in 1899, E.B. White, the author of the popular children’s novels “Charlotte’s Web,” “Stuart Little” and “The Trumpet of the Swan,” is born in Mount Vernon, New York. White, a longtime contributor to The New Yorker magazine who was known for his graceful, witty prose, ...read more

“Angela’s Ashes” author Frank McCourt dies

On this day in 2009, Frank McCourt, the author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning, runaway best-seller “Angela’s Ashes,” a 1996 memoir about his impoverished childhood in Limerick, Ireland, dies at age 78 in Manhattan from metastatic melanoma. McCourt wrote “Angela’s Ashes,” his first ...read more

Oprah launches influential book club

On this day in 1996, daytime talk show host Oprah Winfrey launches a television book club and announces “The Deep End of the Ocean” by Jacquelyn Mitchard as her first selection. Oprah’s Book Club quickly became a hugely influential force in the publishing world, with the popular ...read more

Zola’s “J’accuse” letter is printed

On this day in 1898, French writer Emile Zola’s inflammatory newspaper editorial, entitled “J’accuse,” is printed. The letter exposed a military cover-up regarding Captain Alfred Dreyfus. Dreyfus, a French army captain, had been accused of espionage in 1894 and sentenced in a ...read more

William Wordsworth moves into Dove Cottage

On this day in 1799, William Wordsworth and his sister Dorothy move into Dove Cottage in Westmoreland, England, not far from the home of Samuel Taylor Coleridge. Wordsworth and Coleridge had been good friends and colleagues since they met, in 1795. Their collaboration flourished, ...read more

William Styron is born

Novelist William Styron, author of Sophie’s Choice and other critically acclaimed novels, is born on this day in Newport News, Virginia.Growing up in the segregated south troubled Styron, whose father’s family had once owned slaves. An only child, Styron became a voracious reader ...read more

William Faulkner is born

William Faulkner is born this day near Oxford, Mississippi. Faulkner’s father was the business manager of the University of Mississippi, and his mother was a literary woman who encouraged Faulkner and his three brothers to read.Faulkner was a good student but lost interest in ...read more

Willa Cather is born

On this day in 1873, Willa Cather is born in Winchester, Virginia. Cather was the first of seven children born to an old Virginia family dating back to colonial times. Her maternal grandfather served several terms in the Virginia House of Delegates. Her grandmother was a strong, ...read more

Walt Whitman is born

Today is the birthday of poet Walt Whitman, born in West Hills, Long Island, and raised in Brooklyn.Although Whitman loved music and books, he left school at the age of 14 to become a journeyman printer. Later, he worked as a teacher, journalist, editor, carpenter, and held ...read more

W.E.B. DuBois is born

On this day in 1868, William Edward Burghardt (W.E.B.) DuBois is born in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. A brilliant scholar, DuBois was an influential proponent of civil rights.DuBois’ childhood was happy, but during adolescence he became aware of a “vast veil” separating him ...read more

Voltaire is welcomed home

On this day in 1778, some 300 people visit Voltaire following his return to Paris. Voltaire had been in exile for 28 years.Born Francois-Marie Arouet to middle-class parents in Paris in 1694, Voltaire began to study law as a young man but quit to become a playwright. He made a ...read more

Ulysses is ruled not obscene

On this day, a federal judge rules that Ulysses by James Joyce is not obscene. The book had been banned immediately in both the United States and England when it came out in 1922. Three years earlier, its serialization in an American review had been cut short by the U.S. Post ...read more

Upton Sinclair is born

On this day, Upton Sinclair, Pulitzer Prize-winning writer and reformer, is born in Baltimore, Maryland.Sinclair came from a once well-to-do Southern family that had suffered reverses. When he was 10, the family moved to New York. Starting at age 15, he earned money writing dime ...read more

Tortilla Flat is published

John Steinbeck’s first successful novel, Tortilla Flat, is published on this day.Steinbeck, a native Californian, had studied writing intermittently at Stanford between 1920 and 1925, but never graduated. He moved to New York and worked as a manual laborer and journalist while ...read more