Archive for the ‘Literature Fun Facts’ Category

Jane Austen

Jealousy

July 1814, when Sir Walter Scott’s first novel Waverly was published, Jane Austen was a bit jealous. She wrote the following in a letter to her niece:

“Walter Scott has no business to write novels, especially good ones.—It is not fair.—He has fame and profit enough as a poet, and should not be taking the bread out of other people’s mouths.—I do not like him, and do not mean to like Waverly if I can help it—but fear I must.”

Ironically, today Jane Austen is a much more popular author than her contemporary Sir Walter Scott.

Edgar Allan Poe

“The Raven”

“The Raven” is Poe’s most famous poem. It was first published in the Evening Mirror on January 29, 1845, and brought immediate fame to its author, but very little money.

The following is the story behind “The Raven” as told in a lecture by the poet himself. Poe explained how he came up with the idea for the poem through the following steps.

  • Length: Poe started with a goal of writing a 100-line poem, believing that poetry (or prose) should not be too long that they could not be read in one sitting (the poem ended up being 108 lines).
  • Effect and Tone: Poe wanted beauty to be its effect and melancholy to be its tone.
  • Letters: Poe thought of two letters that their sound he thought would fit the melancholy tone, the vowel o and the consonant r.
  • Word: Thinking of a word that includes both letters, Poe chose the word “nevermore” to be repeated in

  • the poem.
  • Character: Poe wanted a nonhuman creature to repeat the word. His first choice of a parrot did not fit his tone. He settled on a raven.
  • Topic: Now that Poe has the tone as melancholy, the word “nevermore,” and the character the raven, he chose the topic to be the death of a woman mourned by a young man.
  • Setting: Poe than established the setting: a beautiful room filled with memories of the dead woman. The room will combine both the lover and the raven.
  • Plot: Poe than created the plot: late at night, a raven flies to a lit room of a weary student doing school work late into the night and mourning the death of his love Lenore. The raven, reminding the young scholar of Lenore and refusing to leave the bust of pallas it perched on, added much to the scholar’s distress.

J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter sold about 400 million copies worldwide and has been translated into over 65 languages.

Though before the book’s popularity, Joanne Rowling had some difficulty finding a publisher that believed her book could amount to anything. Finally Bloomsburry Press agreed to publish the first edition of Harry Potter, but only printed 500 copies for the first edition for fear of them not selling. Also the publisher requested that the author would not use her first name (Joanne) but rather her initials to make it less obvious that the author is a woman assuming that the book’s main audience young boys would not want to read a wizard book written by a woman. Since Joanne Rowling did not have a middle name, she chose K for Kathleen.

Harry Potter, First Edition

Those who bought a first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stonecould could make a fortune today! Harry Potter‘s first edition copies are worth thousands.

  • A hardback first edition copy was sold for £10,575 at a Sotheby’s auction in 2002.
  • Another soft cover first edition copy was sold at the Dallas Auction House for $19,120.
  • In August 2005, AbeBooks.com sold a first edition for £20,000.
  • Another anonymous bidder paid $40,326 for a first edition at Christie’s auction house in London.
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