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 »

Susanna Centlivre, a successful playwright of the early 1700s

November 22, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

Two playwrights dominated the London theater scene at the beginning of the 18th century. Both were women. One was the  — Aphra Behn  (the subject of a previous post in this newsletter). The other was Susanna Centlivre. As with Aphra Behn, relatively few details are available to us about Susanna Centlivre’s origins and early life. • Read More »

Humility

November 22, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

Shane Parrish has recently included this in his newsletter, FS | Brain Food, and it is worth repeating: “It is impossible for a man to learn what he thinks he already knows.” — Epictetus Humility is the anecdote to arrogance. Humility is a recognition that we don’t know, that we were wrong, that we’re not • Read More »

Bernard Cornwell, James Whitcomb Riley, and eulogy virtues: newsletter, November 19, 2021

November 19, 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, November 19, 2021. The idea of individual freedom lies at the heart of America, and it was the main motivation for those devoted to “The Cause” that became the war for independence from Great Britain. It wasn’t about taxes or representation. It • Read More »

Vietnam Voices volume 3 is now available

November 19, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, journalism.

Vietnam Voices, the project of the Blount County Public Library with which I am associated, now has its third volume of interviews in both print and ebook form. Vietnam Voices: Stories of Tennesseans Who Served in Vietnam, 1965-1975 (volume 3) is available on Amazon in paperback and ebook formats and on Barnes and Noble in • Read More »

Susanna Centlivre, literary football, country music, and reader reaction: newsletter, November 12, 2021

November 12, 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 (2,290) on Friday, November 12, 2021. Growing up in Nashville in the 1950s and 1960s, we were certainly aware of country music and the Grand Ole Opry, but our focus as teenagers was on rock ’n roll. None of the people I knew realized just • Read More »

The resume virtues or the eulogy virtues

November 8, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

David Brooks, columnist for the New York Times, wrote a column several years ago titled The Moral Bucket list. In it, he said this: It occurred to me that there were two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy • Read More »

Henry VIII’s court painter, E.B. White, and the rich kids at school: newsletter, November 5, 2021

November 5, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: baseball, libraries, newsletter, watercolor, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,266) on Friday, November 5, 2021. We didn’t always wear the best clothes or live in the finest houses, but those of us who were lucky enough to receive musical training when we were young were the rich kids in school. We had something special, • Read More »

Bernard Cornwell: “Don’t worry, darling. I’ll write a book.”

November 4, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, writers, writing.

When Bernard Cornwell followed the woman he loved back to America from his native Great Britain and married her in 1979, he asked the U.S. government to grant him a Green Card so that he could be employed. His request was denied. “Don’t worry, darling,” he told his wife. “I’ll write a novel.” More than • Read More »

Mastering the heroic couplet, more on Baroque composers, and Frederick Taylor Gates: newsletter, October 29, 2021

October 30, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,290) on Friday, October 29, 2021. Fifty. 50 percent.  Is that a lot or a little? Whenever I encounter a number or statistic, I am reminded of what I read years ago in a book on graphics by Edward Tufte, a guru of graphic presentation • Read More »

Baroque composers: Barbara Strozzi

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

Much of the information about Barbara Strozzi is speculative, obscure, disputed, or doubtful. What we do know is that she was a terrific musician — a soprano who could accompany herself on the lute or theorbo (a very long-necked stringed instrument) — who captured the attention of music-crazy Venice during her teenage years. We also • Read More »

Frederick Taylor Gates, farsighted philanthopist

October 25, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

John D. Rockefeller had already been asked — several times — if he would make a contribution to begin a great Baptist university in the Midwest, and he had declined. But he had never been asked by Frederick Taylor Gates. It was a spring morning in 1889 when Gates met with Rockefeller at the magnate’s • Read More »

Charles Dickens, Parliamentary reporter; Antonio Vivaldi, and wide-ranging reader reaction: newsletter, October 22, 2021

October 23, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, newsletter, reporting, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,290) on Friday, October 22, 2021. We live about five miles outside a small town on a winding road in an area that would definitely be termed as rural. Last Friday night, the weather permitted me to sit outside on my back porch and listen • Read More »

Baroque composers: Antonio Vivaldi

October 22, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism.

The names that dominate Baroque music (readers will know that this is one of my favorite genres) are all male: Johann Sebastian Bach, George Frederick Handel, Antonio Vivaldi, Georg Phillipp Telemann, etc. But not every composer in that genre or era (1600-1750) was male. Not by a long shot. This is post is part a • Read More »