It’s Halloween! In honor of the creepiest of holidays, why not contemplate your own mortality? GOOD TIMES!
Here are ten well-written or interesting conceived final goodbyes from folks (or folks who knew them) who have shuffled off this mortal coil.
1. William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
[Gravestone in Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-upon-Avon]
GOOD FREND FOR IESVS SAKE FORBEARE
TO DIGG THE DVST ENCLOASED HEARE
BLESTE BE Y MAN Y SPARES THES STONES
AND CVRST BE HE THAT MOVES MY BONES
2. Edmund Spenser (1510-1596)
(expecting the second Comminge of our Saviour Christ Jesus)
the body of Edmond Spenser, the Prince of Poets in his time;
whose divine spirit needs no other witness
than the works he left behind him.
Mark your calendars and make some plans! November 1st is National Author’s Day. In 1929, the General Federation of Women’s Clubs created the day to honor America’s writers; in 1949, the day was officially recognized by the U.S. Department of Congress. The resolution states, in part, that “[b]y celebrating author’s day as a nation, we would not only show patriotism, loyalty and appreciation of the men and women who have made American literature possible but would also encourage and inspire others to give of themselves in making a better America.”
Most of these historic places are privately staffed or state-run, meaning that even if the government shutdown continues, you should be able to visit these homes, museums, and locations:
Called “America’s Shakespeare,” Edgar Allan Poe created or mastered the short story, detective fiction, science fiction, lyric poetry and the horror story. His dark genius has invited children and adults to read and love literature for over 150 years.
Built by Twain’s father-in-law, Twain called this retreat “The Cozy Nest.” It is located on the campus of Elmira College. Twain’s grave is also located in the town of Elmira.
Linguists have unlocked the key to what our ancient ancestors may have sounded like, and it sounds pretty amazing.
Did you know that 6,500 years ago English and Farsi were the same language? How’s that for world unity.
From there, the language morphed into the single descendant of all modern Indo-European languages: PIE (which stands for Proto-Indo-European). Since recording equipment was sparse 4,500 years ago and PIE left no written texts, nobody has ever known what the language might have sounded like. Until now, that is.
Below is a recording of a fable, “The Sheep and Horses,” read in what linguists believe to be an accurate reconstruction of PIE.
Here’s a tip: keep some sheep leather and blue gauls handy…
Yesterday we brought you the recipes to two authors’ favorite meals, so today I give you the recipe to one authoress’ writing success: a good leather bound book and a batch of homemade ink. For those Austen enthusiasts feeling particularly crafty, here is the exact recipe for the ink Jane Austen used, provided by her sister-in-law:
Take 4 ozs of blue gauls [gallic acid, made from oak apples], 2 ozs of green copperas [iron sulphate], 1 1/2 ozs of gum arabic. Break the gauls. The gum and copperas must be beaten in a mortar and put into a pint of strong stale beer; with a pint of small beer. Put in a little refin’d sugar. It must stand in the chimney corner fourteen days and be shaken two or three times a day.
This iron gall ink would then be applied to the page with an old-fashioned quill. But on the quality of the pages themselves, Austen was quite particular. One of her favorites was “a quarto stationer’s notebook… bound with quarter tanned sheep over boards sided with marbled paper. The edges of the leaves [were] plain cut and sprinkled red.”
Better find yourself some quarter tanned sheep. No self-respecting Austenite would be caught dead without a sheep leather notebook!
Victorians were big on clubs. Gentlemen’s Clubs. No, the Brontes were not wearing pasties and stripping to “Oh, Mother Take the Wheel Away!” These were exclusive gatherings of writers and artists who came together to chill, drink, and probably scratch-and-spit. No “damned scribbling women allowed.” (Such a fun guy, that Hawthorne…) .
ANYWAY, Charles Dickens was one of those writers who was a high-profile member of a hoity-toity club called “The Garrick Club” until he got into a fight with William Makepeace Thackery. Apparently a journalist was talking smack about Thackery, and what he knew could have only been found out through club connections. (First Rule of Garrick Club: Don’t Talk About Garrick Club.)
SO, Dickens says, basically, “Screw you, Thackery. I’m the biggest star you’ve got and I’m taking my fame elsewhere.” Plus, the journalist, Edward Yates, was a very close friend and the godfather of Dickens’ children.
Dickens would eventually join the still-in-existence “Arts Club” (actress Gwyneth Paltrow is now its Creative Director). But before that, in 1862, Dickens became one of the founding members of “The Ghost Club. ” Until he joined and brought some legitimacy to the off-beat club, the press was not very complimentary, but his presence gave the organization a modicum of credibility.