On October 16th in 1847, Charlotte Brontë published, Jane Eyre. 165 years old, and it’s still considered a masterpiece of fiction.
In other news, we’d like to wish Mr. Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde a very happy 158th birthday! As always, we are throwing a little birthday party tonight and we hope you will all yield to at least one temptation in his honor ;)
On this day, in 1974, confessional poet Anne Sexton, took her own life by asphyxiating herself with carbon monoxide in her garage. She was 45 years old.
Many of you will already know that Anne Sexton’s life was haunted by abuse she suffered as a child, at the hands of her parents. She was committed to mental institutions, and underwent many years of intense therapy to treat her tendencies. It is said she abused her children and struggled with bipolar disorder, nervous breakdowns and alcoholism. If you would like more information on her personal life, we recommend her biography by Diane Middlebrook.
Sexton’s first book of poetry, To Bedlam and Part Way Back (1960), examines her mental breakdowns and subsequent recoveries. It was her confessional intensity that brought her to the forefront of the literary world, earning her a Pulitzer Prize in 1967 for Live or Die. Our favorite collection of poems by Sexton is undoubtedly All My Pretty Ones, published in 1962. It’s beautifully lyrical and just so… honest.
Several volumes of poetry were also published posthumously. Among them, our favorites are 45 Mercy Street (1976) and Words for Dr. Y: Uncollected Poems with Three Stories (1978), which are both edited by her daughter, Linda Gray Sexton.
Sexton utilized her knowledge of the human condition; pain, joy… vulnerability. Her metaphors were harsh at times, and the unexpected twists and turns of her verse either made readers love her or hate her. I think it’s pretty clear where we stand ;) What made her a great writer was her brutal honesty.
Today… we encourage you to confess. Write about a secret you dare not expose… write about some innermost thought you’ve had, no matter how taboo. Expose yourself through the written word and see what happens. You may surprise yourself.
Also, please consider making a donation to The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, to help prevent another brilliant artist, friend or loved one from hurting themselves in the future.And if you feel yourself struggling with similar issues as Ms. Sexton, we encourage you to please seek the help you need… and continue writing. Writing Saves.
Write in in peace, Ms. Sexton.
On September 28th in 1891, American author, Herman Melville passed away at the age of 72.
Melville is, of course, best remembered for his novel Moby Dick, or The Whale. But what you may not be as familiar with is his first work, Typee: A Peep at Polynesian Life, or Four Months’ Residence in a Valley of the Marquesas (1846), in which he described his escape from the cannibals! Melville worked in merchant shipping until 1844, documenting his unique seafaring travels all the while.
Though none of his other works ever reached the popularity as Moby Dick, they are still worth a read through. Particularly if you are a fan of realism, adventure tales and rich description. We can recommend Redburn, His Voyage (1849) and White-Jacket; or, The World in a Man-of-War (1850).
As for “The Whale”, it would be perfectly silly for us to express the significance of this book here. It is one of the ultimate classics of American Literature that has inspired popular fiction, music, fine art, poetry, theatre, advertising and film.
Today, we encourage you all to tell the biggest “whale tale” you can possibly imagine! And please remember this wonderfully expressive writer today and everyday!
Write on in peace, Mr. Melville!
On this day in 1881, American poet and musician, Sidney Lanier died from possible complications due to tuberculosis. He was 39 years old.
This one time confederate soldier, first published in 1867, is thought today by many to be the greatest Southern poet to emerge after Edgar Allan Poe. His debut novel, Tiger Lilies deals mostly with his war experiences but is a hint of the sort of musical writer he would one day become.
Unfortunately, many of the poems he is best remembered for, can be rather racist. “The Raven Days,” “Civil Rights,” “Betrayal,” “Corn,” “Laughter in the Senate,” and “The Revenge of Hamish” are just a few that come to mind. Before pursuing writing full-time, he practiced law, and wrote in 1878 the poem, “The Marshes of Glynn” which endeared him to his native state of Georgia. In 1879, he was made lecturer on English literature at Johns Hopkins University. His lectures became the basis of his Science of English Verse (1880, his most important prose work, and an admirable discussion of the relations of music and poetry.
Since his death, an enlarged and final edition (1884) of his poems, prepared by his wife, his Letters, 1866-1881 (1899), and several volumes of miscellaneous prose have been published. In fact, a posthumous work on Shakespeare and his Forerunners (1902) was edited by H. W. Lanier. If you are a fan of Southern poetry and historical content from this time period, we recommend The Song of the Chattahoochee (1877).
Today, write a love letter to your native state or town. Write about the times we’re currently living in… the war, the politics… get angry, be empathetic… find the beautiful things beneath the turmoil.
Write on in peace, Mr. Lanier!