Disraeli and Gladstone: a caricaturist’s dream come true

January 19, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, writers, writing.

Some years ago, the BBC produced a 90-minute documentary on the parallel lives and careers of Benjamin Disraeli and William Gladstone titled  Gladstone and Disraeli: Clash of the Titans. (You can watch it on YouTube, irritatingly divided into six 15-minute segments with the first here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_4CHsWMV3Es) When it comes to 19th-century British politics, the title is • Read More »

Rosemary Sutcliff and The Eagle of the Ninth

January 18, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

Rarely does a historical novel, written for children, generate such controversy between archaeologists and historians, but that is what The Eagle of the Ninth, by Rosemary Sutcliff, did when it was published in 1954. It continues to be the source of controversy today. The novel concerns the Ninth Roman legion, a legion which was mysteriously • Read More »

Anne Bronte, author of a classic but outshone by her sisters

January 18, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, journalism, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

As the baby of the family, Anne Brontë never got beyond the shadows of her more famous sisters, Charlotte and Emily. Everyone in the family doted on her, and when she died early, at the age of only 29, in 1849, her reputation and her place in English literature faded even further. Anne deserved a • Read More »

A novel archeologists argue with, a couple made for caricature, and the Devil’s Dictionary returns: newsletter, January 14, 2022

January 14, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: newsletter, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,290) on Friday, January 14, 2022. Trees, we are told by a recent New York Times article, are superheroes when it comes to fighting climate change, especially in urban areas. They can lower the temperature as much as 10 degrees, reducing the demand for air • Read More »

A few items from previous newsletters (part 2): newsletter, January 7, 2022

January 7, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: baseball, books, journalists, newsletter, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,232) on Friday, January 7, 2022. Happy New Year. With regard to Covid, it seems that as we turn the calendar to this new year, we are little better off than a year ago. Covid cases are surging, and our faith in the vaccines to • Read More »

A few items from previous newsletters (part 1): newsletter, December 31, 2021

December 31, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,237) on Friday, December 31, 2021. Happy New Year. Janus is the two-headed god who looks both backward and forward. For a couple of weeks, we will be looking back through the weekly newsletter and picking some of my favorite item because of their stories • Read More »

Mort Drucker and the subversiveness of Mad Magazine

December 29, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

For more than five decades, Mort Drucker was one of the most subversive people in America. Drucker was not some member of an anti-government cell plotting the violent overthrow of the rule of law. Rather he was an artist who could draw people like no other artist, revealing their pomposities and absurdities but in a • Read More »

Margaret Wise Brown and Goodnight Moon, an influential arts critic: newsletter, December 24, 2021

December 24, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: newsletter, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,290) on Friday, December 24, 2021. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to everyone. This era of Covid has discombobulated (I love that word) everyone, and I have no easy answers or sage advice. I still wear a mask whenever I go into a public but • Read More »

Gwen Bristow and Bruce Manning, news art, and the ‘superbowl’ of 1941: newsletter, December 17, 2021

December 17, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, journalists, newsletter, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,290) on Friday, December 17, 2021. The recent flutter of publicity about the fact that trial defendant Ghislaine Maxwell sketched the artist who was sketching her in court (see this New York Magazine article if you want to know more about that) reminded me about • Read More »

James Gibbons Huneker: the critic who led American into a new century of art

December 14, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, writers, writing.

Rarely, if ever, has an art, music, and theater critic held such sway over American public opinion as did James Gibbons Huneker at the beginning of the 20th century.  Huneker accomplished this feat using a depth of knowledge about his subjects and a writing style that would-be scribblers such as H.L. Mencken sought to emulate. • Read More »

The most influential American woman of the 19th century, Thomas Bodley, and the masses on Twitter: newsletter, December 10, 2021

December 10, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, newsletter, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,290) on Friday, December 10, 2021. Nearly one quarter of adults in the United States (23 percent) are on Twitter, according to a recent in-depth survey and analysis by the Pew Research Center. I was surprised by that figure because it is higher than I • Read More »

The most influential American woman of the 19th century: Sarah Josepha Hale

December 10, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

When Thomas Edison famously made his first sound recording in 1877 on a machine that he had just invented, the phonograph, his first words had to be something that everyone was familiar with. So, he said, “Mary had a little lamb, . . .” The nursery rhyme he was quoting wasn’t one that was composed • Read More »

Wilhelmine, Frederick, and Anna Amalia: Despite a cruel father, some beautiful music from the kids

December 4, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history, journalism.

The year 1740 was a red-letter year for the Hohenzollern kids. It was the year their father, King Frederick William I of Prussia, died. His death, far from provoking mourning, was an occasion of unremitting rejoicing among his many children, especially Wilhelmine, Frederick, and Anna Amalia. The king was a vicious and cruel, almost beyond • Read More »

The talented Hohenzollern kids, anti-Napoleon intelligence, and the return of the Devil’s Dictionary: newsletter, December 3, 2021

December 3, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,290) on Friday, December 3, 2021. About 15 years ago, the city of Chattanooga, Tennessee, (yes, the same burb of the swing song that begins, “Pardon me, boys, is this the . . .”), went on a tree-cutting binge. Years before, the city had planted • Read More »

Anne Bronte, humility, Benjamin Spock, and reader reaction: newsletter, November 26, 2021

November 26, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, history, newsletter, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,290) on Friday, November 26, 2021. Thanksgiving Day, I think, is the best of all holidays. It can be religious or secular or a lot of both. It comes close to the end of the year but not so close that we are making “best • Read More »

George III, under-rated and unfairly maligned: so says his biographer

November 23, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history, journalism.

From the Declaration of Independence to the musical Hamilton, George III has been kicked around for the last two and a half centuries. Now he has a new defender: historian Andrew Roberts, biographer of Winston Churchill and Napoleon and author of the recently published The Last King of America: The Misunderstood Reign of George III. Roberts • Read More »