Archives: journalism

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 »

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 »

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 »

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: 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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »