Archives: writers

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

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 »

Meeting St. Louis, the spy and the dirty diaper, banned books, and bandsaw boxes: newsletter, October 8, 2021

October 9, 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 (2,272) on Friday, October 8, 2021. Audiobooks—are they really “books”? If you listen to an audiobook, does that count as reading one? Those questions came to mind as I read an email this week from a good friend and newsletter reader. She was responding to • Read More »

Oleg Gordievsky: The message was clear; the listeners just didn’t get it (part 1)

October 8, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, writers, writing.

In 1985 Oleg Gordievsky, a colonel in the KGB, was less than 24 hours from launching into a plan that would spirit him out of the Soviet Union and into asylum in the West. For years, Gordievsky had been Western intelligence service’s chief asset within the Soviet hierarchy. Within that hierarchy, he had a reputation • Read More »

The Peterkin family, Bradbury finds his title, Vietnam Voices, and bandsaw boxes; newsletter, September 10, 2021

September 12, 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, September 10, 2021. The bandsaw box is something known to most woodworkers. You take a block of wood usually about the size of your hand with the fingers spread out (give or take) and a few inches deep. Then, through a series • Read More »

Ray Bradbury and his typewriter, Ian Rankin and William McIlvanney, nicknames for sports teams, and more: newsletter, September 3, 2021

September 5, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, newsletter, reporters, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,290) on Friday, September 3, 2021. During the past few weeks, I have devoted my considerable intellectual resources to solving one of the nation’s most intractable problems. I am, of course, talking about the nicknames given to sports teams. A solution to this vexing dilemma • Read More »

Ian Rankin and William McIlvanney—together in one book

September 5, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, writers, writing.

Scottish mystery novelist Ian Rankin had admired William McIlvanney (see below) for a long time. Rankin had read all of McIlvanney’s Laidlaw series—there were only three books in that series—and had been captured by McIlvanney’s unique writing style and his point of view. Finally, early in his writing career, Rankin got to meet McIlvanney in • Read More »

Music, courage, treachery, and the spark for modern genealogy research: newsletter, August 27, 2021

August 29, 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, August 27, 2021. One of the great mysteries of our lives—one that in some sense I hope we do not “solve” is the effect that music has on our intellect, our emotions, and our general well-being. No one that I know of • Read More »

Abraham Lincoln, mystery writer

August 24, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, writers, writing.

One of the things we know about Abraham Lincoln is that he could tell a good story. He was famous for that. But could he write one? He tried that once, and what he wrote was interesting, if not completely compelling. Before he was elected president in 1860, Lincoln was a lawyer in Springfield, Illinois, • Read More »

Jeeves: P. G. Wodehouse’s enduring character

August 23, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, writers.

Jeeves, the omniscient valet of P. G. Wodehouse’s Bertie Wooster stories, began life in the author’s mind as a one-off character. He appeared in a 1915 story titled “Extricating Young Gussie” and was supposed to have only two lines: “Mrs. Gregson to see you, sir,” and  “Very good, sir. Which suit will you wear?”  Had • Read More »

Alex Haley’s pre-Roots success, the everlasting Jeeves, and Abe as mystery writer: newsletter, August 20, 2021

August 22, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,293) on Friday, August 20, 2021. A friend of mine who is, unfortunately, no longer with us used to express a personal theory concerning public personages. They were, he contended, cosmic clowns. Cosmic clowns, he would explain, are people that the Almighty placed on earth • Read More »