Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Literary Fact of the Day | February 2011

Another month, another batch of literary trivia. As always, you can get your Literary Fact of the Day piping fresh each day by following The Ape on Twitter (@readingape) or just stick out for the monthly round-up. (March will feature tidbits about the authors on our 100 Greatest American Novels list).

Here they are (were):

  • After the the publication of THE JUNGLE in 1906, both foreign and domestic purchases of American meat fell by half.
  • Jack London's father was an astrologer and his mother a spiritualist who claimed to be able to channel the spirit of an Indian chief.
  • Stephen Crane was paid $700 in Spanish gold to be a war reporter in Cuba.
  • Kafka's two brothers both died before the age of 2. His three sisters died in concentration camps.
  • Anne Sexton was the first female member of the Harvard chapter of Phi Beta Kappa.
  • Proust did not move out of his parents' apartment until they were both dead.
  •  Robert Penn Warren is the only person to win a Pulitzer for both fiction and poetry.
  • Stendhal suffered so badly from syphilis late in life that he could barely hold a pen & had to dictate The Charterhouse of Parma.
  • Emily Dickinson named her dog "Carlo" after St. John Rivers' dog in JANE EYRE.
  • There are only 6 female authors on The Modern Library's list of the 100 best novels of the 20th Century.
  • The first Gulf War so upset Barbara Kingsolver that she moved to the Canary Islands for a year.
  • Valentine Edition: The oldest known connection of Saint Valentius to romantic love was made by Geoffrey Chaucer.
  • Vandals have repeatedly scratched the "Hughes" off of Sylvia Plath's headstone.
  • In his late teens, Aldous Huxley contracted a disease that left him totally blind for almost three years.
  • After seeing August Sander's photograph "Young Farmers," Richard Powers was inspired to quit his day job to write his first novel.
  • In 1886, Jules Verne was shot in the leg by his nephew. Verne then limped for the rest of his life & his nephew was sent to an asylum.
  • In 1939, William S. Burroughs severed the last joint of his left little finger intentionally, in an attempt to impress a man he liked.
  • Gertrude Stein enrolled in medical school at Johns Hopkins in 1899 but left after two years without finishing her degree.
  • Saul Bellow went to Mexico City in 1940 to meet Trotsky, but Trotsky was assassinated the day before they were to meet.
  • Maya Angelou was raped at the age of 8 by her uncle. He spent 1 day in jail but was kicked to death the next day by persons unknown.


  1. This is amazing stuff ape. You're growing to be one of my top dogs in literary blogging.

  2. Hey thanks Ben. I'm trying to keep it interesting and to keep getting better.

  3. Love that little tid bit about Jules Verne, im really getting into his books at the moment and it was quite a suprise to read about his... err... little family dispute!