According to the Oxford English Dictionary, F. Scott Fitzgerald was the first to use the word “wicked” to mean “cool” in his novel This Side of Paradise. Many believe he coined the word “T-shirt.”
Don Quixote is the best-selling novel of all time. Since it was written in the early 1600s, it has sold over 500 million copies. However, the best-selling book is still the Bible.
Three of the most famous stories from The Arabian Nights or One Thousand and One Nights stories by Scheherazade—”Aladdin,” “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves,” and “Sinbad the Sailor”—did not appear in the original collection of stories. Antoine Galland, a French translator, added them to the collection in the early 18th century.
On this day in 1816, John Keats’ first poem was published in The Examiner. He was 20 years old. His first book of poetry was published a year later. In 1819, he wrote many of his well-known poems, including “Ode to a Grecian Urn.” A year later, he was diagnosed with tuberculosis and died in 1821.
His life was filled with tragedy. His father died when he was 8 years old. His mother and grandparents also passed away in the following years. He and his four siblings were cheated out of their inheritance and he lived in poverty. Because of his economic status, he couldn’t marry the woman he loved.
Even though he was only 25 when he died, his poetry lives on.
On this day in 1857, Edgar Rice Burroughs was born. He created Tarzan. The first Tarzan book was published in 1914. Forty-eight films have been made based on that character. The first film came out in 1918. The latest film version came out this summer.
Ray Bradbury said of Burroughs, “Edgar Rice Burroughs was, and is, the most influential writer, bar none, of our century.”
Burroughs also created the character John Carter.
Jack London, known for his short stories, including White Fang and The Call of the Wild, and his novels, including The Sea-Wolf, wrote from his experiences. He searched for gold in the Klondike and spent months on a seal-hunting expedition. On this day in 1893, he returned to San Francisco from that expedition.
Chuck Colson visited Tom Philips, the president of Raytheon, in his home. Philips read to him from Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. The words convicted Colson but he didn’t want to make a “foxhole” conversion. Before he left, Philips gave him the book, telling him to read it along with the Gospel of John. However, he could barely get out of Philips’ driveway before he broke down and cried out to God. Colson served time for his part in the Watergate scandal. He went on to found Prison Fellowship, which ministers to prisoners around the world to this day.
On in this day in 1805, Alexis de Tocqueville was born. In 1831, he came to the United States with a friend, Gustave de Beaumont. They traveled extensively and studied the prison system in America. After returning to France, he wrote “Democracy in America.” It was published in 1835. The book delved into American culture and the political system. It’s considered one of the most influential books of the 19th century.
Dashiell Hammett wrote some of the best-known detective novels, including The Maltese Falcon and The Thin Man. At 20, he became a detective with the Pinkerton Agency. His first case involved tracking down a Ferris wheel that had been stolen. He left Pinkerton to enlist in the Army during World War I. While in the Army, he contracted tuberculosis. It meant he couldn’t continue as a detective when he left the Army. However, he used his experiences with Pinkerton to inspire short detective stories. And, his writing career began.
On this day in 1972, five men were caught after they broke into the offices of the Democratic National Committee at the Watergate Hotel. They were trying to bug the offices. Two young reporters at the Washington Post, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein, received the assignment to handle this “minor” story by their editor, Ben Bradlee. The minor story turned into one of the biggest scandals in history and brought down a president. They wrote the bestselling book All the President’s Men, which was published in 1974. It detailed their hunt for the truth.