Archives: books

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 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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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, Fannie Lou Hamer, Eleanor Roosevelt, and yet another bandsaw box: newsletter, Oct. 15, 2021

October 16, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, Voting, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,290) on Friday, October 15, 2021. If you grew up in the American South in the 1950s and 1960s and paid attention to the news (here, guilty on all counts), you would have heard the name of Fannie Lou Hamer, a Mississippi woman who upset • Read More »