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MountainMill

Robert Louis Stevenson and the birth of Treasure Island

  Treasure Island, Robert Louis Stevenson’s great novel for young readers, sprang from a single sheet drawing he made while spending an afternoon with his stepson Lloyd in the summer of 1881. They were living in Scotland at the time, and a summer rain had confined Lloyd to the house. He spent that time in […]

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WilliamManchester

Five of the biggest writing mistakes, from  Mark Dawson’s Self Publishing Formula

Mark Dawson is one of the most successful and prominent authors in the independent publishing world, and his Self Publishing Formula, which provides a vast amount of information and training on how to get into the business and stay there, has become a must-have resource. One part of the resource is a blog about independent […]

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AndrewMarvell

Andrew Marvell, Sherwood Anderson, a quarterback’s fall, and another poetry video: newsletter, May 10, 2019

{% if subscriber.first_name != blank %} Hello {{ subscriber.first_name }}, {% else %} Hello, {% endif %} The garden is growing, except for the corn. We planted six rows of sweet corn, and two-and-a-third of those rows came up. What happened to the other rows? We don’t know. Same soil, same weather, same everything. But […]

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SherwoodAnderson

Sherwood Anderson and the revolution in 20th century American literature

Sometimes librarians get it wrong — at least, initially. Sherwood Anderson, the author of the classic Winesburg, Ohio, was from the small town of Clyde, Ohio, and used that small town as the source of the novel. When it was first published, 100 years ago this week, it was praised by a few and panned […]

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EdgarAllanPoe

Poems and Paintings — the videos

I have posted two more videos of poetry and painting this week, and I have a request of you faithful newsletter readers: I plan to continue doing these for a while — they’re lots of fun — but I need a name for the series. Poetry and Painting just doesn’t do it for me, and I’m looking […]

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Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Marie Antionette’s favorite artist and the woman who changed portrait painting (part 2)

When Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun fled Paris with her small daughter in October 1789, she felt that her life might be in danger — and she was probably right. Élisabeth had been the unofficial portraitist for the French royal family. She had painted more than 50 portraits of them and was most especially noted for her paintings […]

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Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun, Marie Antionette’s favorite artist and the woman who changed portrait painting (part 1)

Élisabeth Vigée (later Élisabeth Vigée Le Brun) painted her first exhibited portrait sometime before 1770 — a picture of her younger brother Étienne Vigée, who would later become a playwright and man of letters. She had not yet reached her fifteenth birthday. Élisebeth’s early life was one of extraordinary good fortune. — She had a […]

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Marie Antionette’s female portraitist, videos, Mendelssohn, and the battle of Antietam: newsletter, April 26, 2019

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,830) on Friday, April 26, 2019.   This week a few folks — millions, in fact — celebrated World Book Day (April 23), an event begun in the 1990s by the United Nations to commemorate and recognize the importance of books to our world. One part of […]

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Watercolors as photography, the would-be Vermeer, Ridge Running, and Charles Darwin: newsletter, April 19, 2016

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,826) on Friday, April 19, 2019.   The scenes of Notre Dame cathedral in Paris this week shocked and appalled anyone with any sensitivity to art. To see such an architectural work of art consumed by flames provoked disbelief and despair. This great building had […]

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Notre Dame

Watercolour World: watercolors as the pre-20th century photography

How can we know what something or some location looked like 200 or 300 years ago? If some master painter depicted someone or something and it hung in a museum, gallery, or collection, that would be one means. Usually, these works were done in oil and took much time and training to complete. Consequently, they […]

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Han van Meegeren: His Vermeers fooled everyone (part 1)

Han van Meegeren was a con artist who couldn’t complete his con — until his life depended on it. Van Meegeren (1889-1947) did not set out to be a con artist. He simply wanted to be an artist. Born in the provincial Dutch city of Deventer, he grew up with a love of art and an […]

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WilliamManchester

The would-be Vermeer, fountain pens, and the sad end of a great writer: newsletter, April 12, 2019

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,841) on Friday, April 12, 2019.   It continues to be April, and, among many other things, that means it continues to be National Poetry Month. I wrote a bit about that in last week’s newsletter, but I bring it up again because it struck a chord […]

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AndrewCarnegie

Andrew Carnegie, the man and his libraries

No name is more associated with public libraries than that of Andrew Carnegie. Carnegie has his name on a lot of things, to be sure — Carnegie Hall and Carnegie-Mellon University, to name a couple — but for most of the 20th century, America and a good part of the world paired the name Carnegie with […]

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AndrewCarnegie

Handel, National Poetry Month, Andrew Carnegie and all things library: newsletter, April 5, 2019

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,8xx) on Friday, April 5, 2019. Possibly the most fun part of a fun week was pouring the bees. Right. Pouring the bees.  Every spring, whether my beehives survive or not, I order “packages” of new bees. These packages are actually wooden boxes, about the size […]

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MichaelConnelly

Michael Connelly, jury trials, NYC’s first female detective, and getting ready for National Poetry Month: newsletter, March 29, 2019

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,854) on Friday, March 29, 2019. Gardening has taken me from using a tiller attached to a tractor last week to this week using a smaller motorized tiller, a trencher, and finally a hoe. The result (so far): one row of onions is in the […]

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PalaceTheater

America’s first female police officer, Dan Jenkins, lots of emails, and a modest proposal: newsletter, March 22, 2019

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,866) on Friday, March 22, 2019.   The tractor came out of the barn and had a pretty good workout this week. We had a string of dry days that allowed me — finally! — to get into the garden with some much-needed sub-soiling and […]

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MillerHall1

The college admissions scandal: a modest proposal

What has practically every story you’ve read or heard during the last couple of weeks about the college admissions scandal had in common? The journalists and commentators have consistently used the terms elite colleges or elite universities. They have done without any critical assessment of the terms themselves, and therein lies a problem — possibly The Problem. We […]

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Emma Lathen: a dual force in mystery literature

If you were an avid reader of mystery novels in the 1960s, you were probably aware of three female mystery writers more than any others: Agatha Christie, Dorothy L. Sayers, and Emma Lathen. Emma Lathen? While Christie and Sayers have achieved immortality in the realms of mystery fiction, Lathen has all but disappeared. Yet her […]

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OleBurt2

Dick Francis, forensics, jury trials, and Ole Bert: newsletter, March 15, 2019

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,875) on Friday, March 15, 2019.     The news of this week of a major scandal in the collegiate admissions process has captured, and in some cases (mine) captivated, the attention of the nation, and rightly so. Having spent much of my adult life […]

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BCPL-talk

The Belfast Project’s secret tapes, Facebook’s (and our) profound mistake, and more on America’s first female detective: newsletter, March 8, 2019

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,884) on Friday, March 8, 2019.     March is not the most reliable of months weatherwise in East Tennessee — not like January or July. More often than not, the first week of March is balmy, giving us a little pre-spring, if you will. […]

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