Sometime probably in the late 1890s, and unknown dealer or private collector assembled about 200 letters that were bound into volumes and titled "Sir Walter Scott: Letters of his Friends and Contemporaries." The letters aren't to, from, or even necessarily about Scott, but they provide an artifactual record of both his personal circles and the leading public figures of the day.
Carolyn Vega's blog
Sir Walter Scott, arguably the most successful writer of his day, was the first English-language novelist to be represented by a literary agent. In the last twenty years of his life, he published 23 works of fiction -- all anonymously -- and James Ballantyne, who was also Scott's business partner, sometimes-printer, and former schoolfellow, acted as a liaison or agent to help to obscure Scott's identity.
Wilkie Collins, who not as well known today as his contemporary and collaborator Charles Dickens, was, in his heyday, a literary celebrity -- and he is perhaps best remembered now as the author of The Moonstone, which T. S. Eliot described as the first and greatest of English detective novels.
This armorial was compiled in England around 1597, and in over four hundred entries it chronicles the coats of arms of British royals and nobles up to the reign of Elizabeth I.
He thought he saw an Albatross
That fluttered round the lamp:
He looked again, and found it was
“You’d best be getting home,” he said:
“The nights are very damp!”
Charlotte Brontë was only ten years old when she penned her earliest known work, and she was barely a tween when she began writing in earnest -- at her own count she had written over twenty complete works by the time she was fourteen.
One list, which she has headed Catalogue of my Books with the periods of their completion up to August 3, 1830, gives twenty-two titles, including A Book of Rhymes, which, now lost, apparently contained 10 poems.
Education was something else in the 18th century. W. B. Sandys was just nine years old when he penned a volume titled Ancient Maps and Universal History. Measuring only a little over four inches high, this little book has the feel of being a very well-executed assignment. Throughout the volume, Sandys demonstrates his aptitude in history, geography, pen-and-ink drawing, and calligraphy.
"Give a horse a nut," says John Ruskin, "and see if he can hold it as a squirrel can."
The great English critic was, in the fall of 1857, apparently in the midst of a "great horse-controversy" with Tinie, the young daughter of Ruskin's close friend Robert Horn. It seems that Tinie had recently come to the defense of the horse, and in a very lengthy letter (shown below) Ruskin attempted to convince her that "the horse is the most contemptible of animals."
The Romantic essayist William Hazlitt described Mary Lamb as the most “reasonable woman” he ever knew. This choice of adjective -- reasonable -- is not the first thing that comes to mind when I think of Mary Lamb. Interesting, perhaps, or articulate, or even brilliant, but reasonable seems an odd choice to describe a woman who, in a “fit of mania,” killed her mother with a kitchen knife.
The first shots of the American Civil War were fired 150 years ago today from Fort Sumter, South Carolina, and the two-day bombardment ended in the surrender of the fort to Confederate General Beauregard. There were no casualties in this initial engagement, but in the following four years at least 618,000 died. It remains the bloodiest war in United States history.