Archives: history

The strange disappearance of the man who took the first motion picture, Louis Le Prince

April 30, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history, journalism.

The identity of the person who “invented” motion pictures, in the sense that we know them today, has always been a matter of dispute—even though Thomas Edison has made the claim and owned the patent. Like many modern inventions (the airplane, the radio, etc.), cinema has many founders. In reality, Edison may be the least • Read More »

The education of August Wilson, a current combat artist, and continuing giveaways: newsletter, April 22, 2022

April 22, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, reporters, reporting, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,324) on Friday, April 22, 2022. “I like someone who speaks his mind—you know, someone who says what he thinks.” Undoubtedly, you have heard this sentiment expressed in some form or another. Speaking one’s mind is thought to be an admirable quality. I’m not so • Read More »

Handel’s comeback, ebook giveaways, bee swarms, and a preview of William Roughead: newsletter, April 8, 2022

April 8, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,234) on Friday, April 8, 2022. Part of the power of the English language lies in its ability to reform, revise, and regenerate itself on almost a daily basis. English is not a static entity, as some people might wish. It is vibrant and dynamic. • Read More »

Edna St. Vincent Millay and the voice of feminism, more about William Roughead, and lots of reader reaction: newsletter, April 1, 2022

April 1, 2022 | 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 (2,234) on Friday, April 1, 2022. You newsletter readers are carrying much of the load for this week’s newsletter. I have received several substantial and interesting comments on articles I have included during the past couple of weeks, and I want to share them with • Read More »

Mozart’s transcription genius: did he really do it?

March 27, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history, journalism.

Gregorio Allegri’s (1582-1652) setting of Psalm 51, Miserere Mei, is a choral work of unsurpassed beauty and delicacy that the Catholic Church commissioned in the 1630s for exclusive use in the Sistine Chapel. It was played only once a year sometime during the Easter season. Writing it down or performing it without authorization could get • Read More »

Black Hawk and the first published Native American autobiography

March 26, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, journalism, writing.

We naturally associate the name of Black Hawk with war and fighting (think: Black Hawk helicopter), but the real history of Chief Black Hawk, a leader of the Sauk Nation of Native Americans, encompasses not only war but a literary tradition: Black Hawk was the first Native American to have an autobiography published in the • Read More »

The first Native American autobiography, Mozart’s genius, and Murder Most Criminous: newsletter, March 25, 2022

March 25, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,234) on Friday, March 25, 2022. This week I have been working in the library, not in my normal capacity, but as a librarian—or maybe as a pseudo-librarian. My local library has begun the process of “radio-frequency tagging.” This involves putting a radio-frequency sticker on • Read More »

Catherine Parr: the first named published author in English who was female

March 5, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

History remembers the name of Catherine Parr as the sixth wife of Henry VIII’s six wives, the one who survived. In truth, however, she should be remembered for much more than that. Her accomplishments were many and widespread. Catherine Parr was the first female to have a book published in English with her name as • Read More »

The first female identified as a book author, Antwerp’s golden age, and more on cryptic crosswords: newsletter, March 4, 2022

March 4, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history, newsletter, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,199) on Friday, March 4, 2022. Spring, the calendar tells us, is still a few weeks away, but in my part of the world, it has begun early—and not a moment too soon. The grass and trees are turning a bit greener, and the early • Read More »

The Gilded Age, humans and horses, and baseball’s Hall of Fame debate: newsletter, February 4, 2022

February 4, 2022 | 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, February 4, 2022. As happens each year at this time when voting for the baseball Hall of Fame is complete, a fierce debate is set off, not about the people who may have been voted into the Hall of Fame but about • Read More »

The fleet’s ‘superbowl’: December 7, 1941

January 26, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: history, journalism.

When Mickey Ganitch woke up on the morning of December 7, 1941, he wasn’t thinking about the possibility of war with Japan. Instead, he was thinking about football. Specifically, his thoughts focused on the game in which he would be playing that day. Ganitch was a signalman on the USS Pennsylvania, which is sitting in • Read More »

A different view of the first president

January 24, 2022 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, journalism.

Have you ever had the feeling when you were reading about George Washington that you might not of been getting the full story? Is this guy really is good and perfect as American mythology makes him out to be? George Washington was certainly essential to the founding of the United States. He gets a lot • 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 »

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 »

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 »