Sunday, 12 February 2012

Game Changers

From the online The Writer's Almanac today:

Abraham Lincoln was born on this day near Hodgenville, Kentucky (1809). Though he's generally considered one of the greatest presidents in US history, fairly little is known about his early life. Unlike most presidents, he never wrote any memoirs. We know that he was born in a log cabin and had barely a year of traditional schooling. His mother died when he was nine, and he spent much of his adolescence working with an axe. But when he was in his early 20s, he showed up in New Salem, Illinois, having decided to remake himself as a professional man, and to study law.

Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England (1809). On the famous voyage to the southern tip of South America when he was only 22, Darwin brought with him Principles of Geology by Sir Charles Lyell, which suggested that the earth was millions of years old. And along the journey, Darwin got a chance to explore the Galapagos Islands. These islands were spaced far enough apart that the animals on them had evolved over time into different species.
It took him a long time to publish his findings, mainly because he was afraid of being attacked as an atheist. But about 20 years after he first came up with the idea, he published his game-changing On the Origin of Species (1859).

It's the birthday of poet and editor Deborah Garrison, born in Ann Arbor, Michigan (1965). At age 21, she graduated from Brown with a creative writing degree; married her high school sweetheart, a lawyer; and joined the staff of The New Yorker, where she worked for more than a decade as senior editor.
Her first poetry collection, A Working Girl Can't Win, was published in 1998. It sold more than 30,000 copies, which is a lot for a poetry book -- Pulitzer Prize-winning poets routinely sell far less. John Updike said that her poems "have a Dickinsonian intensity and the American recluse's air of independent-minded, lightly populated singleness." The collection was called "wry, sexy, appealing" by Elle.

It's the birthday of Judy Blume, born in Elizabeth, New Jersey (1938), the best-selling author of more than two dozen books for young people.
She was 27 years old, with two preschool aged children, when she began writing seriously. For two years, she received constant rejections. Then in 1970, she had her big breakthrough, with the young adult novel Are You There God? It's Me, Margaret. It's the story of 11-year-old Margaret Simon, the daughter of Jewish father and Christian mother, and her adolescent attempts to make sense of things like religion, boys, and menstruation. The book was banned in many schools and libraries. It's one of the most challenged books of the last third of the 20th century. But it's also beloved by many, and it has been a big best-seller over the years.
She lives mostly in Key West, where she writes at a desk facing a garden. In the summer, she writes in a small cabin on Martha's Vineyard. She always writes in the morning. When she's working on a first draft, which she says is the hardest part, she writes seven days a week, even if only for an hour or two day.
Blume is also the author of Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing (1972), Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great (1972), Blubber (1974), The Pain and the Great One (1974), Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself (1977), Superfudge (1980), Here's to You, Rachel Robinson (1993), and recently, Going, Going, Gone! with the Pain and the Great One (2008). Her books have sold more than 80 million copies.

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