Archives: writers

Edward Gibbon: giving voice to the Enlightenment view of history (part 1)

July 22, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, journalism, writers, writing.

As a 27-year-old with scholarly ambitions and wondering what to do with his life, Edward Gibbon visited Rome on his grand tour of Europe and was struck by what he saw. The magnificent ruins seared an image and an idea into his brain. Rome had once been the most powerful political entity on earth. Now • Read More »

The ‘Specials’ at Gettysburg, more from Gibbon’s Decline and Fall, and a little learning wherever we can: newsletter, July 16, 2021

July 18, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, Civil War, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,303) on Friday, July 16, 2021.   This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,313) on Friday, July 16, 2021. More and more, the sentiment showing in mainstream news outlets is that online learning during our year of Covid was a bust • Read More »

The voice of Enlightenment history, the Manhattan swap, and more from the Devil’s Dictionary: newsletter, July 9, 2021

July 11, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,313) on Friday, July 9, 2021. Within the small number of television shows that I watch (many of them from Great Britain, Australia, or New Zealand), I have become increasingly annoyed and disturbed by a prejudice that seems to have gone undetected by the rest • Read More »

Malcolm, Vermeer, Key, and the Fourth of July: newsletter, July 2, 2021

July 5, 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 (2,332) on Friday, July 2, 2021. Americans celebrate themselves this weekend, as they should. America has no shortage of problems, faults, and flaws. It also has no shortage of critics, many of whom are Americans themselves. So it should be. But one thing that Americans prove • Read More »

Mary Somerville, the first person to be called a ‘scientist’ (part 1)

June 28, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

William Whewell had a problem. In 1834, he was reviewing a newly-published book titled On the Connexion of the Physical Sciences. It was an extraordinary work, something that he had never encountered before. It was a book that took on incomplete and fragmented knowledge of the fields of astronomy, mathematics, physics, geology, and chemistry and brought • Read More »

Cicadas, postcards, and geography – plus more from the Devil’s Dictionary: newsletter, June 25, 2021

June 27, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,313) on Friday, June 25, 2021. The fact the college scholarship athletes are woefully compensated based on the revenue they generate is obvious and indisputable. I spent the vast majority of my teaching career at big-time state universities whose athletic programs overshadowed almost everything else • Read More »

The best-selling textbook of all time, the motivations of an art forger, and the remarkable Mary Somerville:newsletter, June 18, 2021

June 20, 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 (2,332) on Friday, June 18, 2021. The latest controversy to hit Major League Baseball revolves around the “sticky stuff” many pitchers apply to a baseball before they throw it. Applying any foreign substance to a baseball is against the rules. The controversy has been sparked • Read More »

Mary Somerville, the woman who became the first scientist (part 2)

June 19, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

By the time Mary Somerville was 47 years old in 1827, she had lived what might have seemed like to many a full life for a nineteenth-century female. Actually, more than a full life. She had grown up the daughter of a British Naval captain, and as a child the circumstances of her family were • Read More »

The first ‘scientist,’ Forsyth’s enjoyment of silence, and the Irish gun plot: newsletter, June 11, 2021

June 13, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, fiction, newsletter, podcasting, reporters, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,332) on Friday, June 11, 2021. Periodically, a few people, and a few members of the news media — and then a few government officials and agencies — will stir themselves up over an identified flying objects, UFOs. As I write this, we are awaiting • Read More »

Frederick Forsyth and the importance of silence to a writer

June 12, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, journalism, writers, writing.

Stories of how writers become writers — the origin narrative, if you will — are continually fascinating and somewhat more rare than you might think. Writers, particularly writers of fiction, enjoy telling other people’s stories, but they often think but their own stories or dull or even non-existent.  Not so with Frederick Forsyth, one of • Read More »

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner: the great poetic influencer of the 19th century

June 7, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: journalism, writers, writing.

Since the early 19th century, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834), has remained one of the most honored, discussed, and beloved poems in all of English literature. (Here I am excluding the feelings of most high school sophomores who when faced with reading the poem find it daunting, dreary, and dense)  • Read More »

Inoculation’s advocate, Fleming’s Casino Royale, and the first American to die in Vietnam: newsletter, June 4, 2021

June 6, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: newsletter, Women writers and journalists, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,332) on Friday, June 4, 2021. In addition to all of the delights of a late but beautiful spring here in East Tennessee, we are being treated to one of Mother Nature’s rare rock concerts. It happens less often than a Bruce Springsteen show but • Read More »

Fleming conceives of Bond, Wesley’s strategy, and a librarian reveals all: newsletter, May 28, 2021

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

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,332) on Friday, May 28, 2021. Do you know a secret? This week’s newsletter has an item about a secret that “only librarians know.” It’s a fun piece, and I recommend the link. But it got me to thinking that as a long-standing member of • Read More »

Axis Sally, North Korea, the world’s first real-life detective, and reader reactions: newsletter, May 14, 2021

May 24, 2021 | By Jim Stovall | No Comments | Filed in: books, history, newsletter, watercolor, writers, writing.

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,350) on Friday, May 14, 2021. The Big Apple is the common nickname for New York City, but its origins are murky. What do apples have to do with New York City? The answer, according to an essay I found recently by Maria Popov (BrainPickings.com), • Read More »

Ambrose Bierce, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, all in the same space: newsletter, May 21, 2021

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

This newsletter was sent to everyone on Jim’s email list (2,374) on Friday, May 21, 2021. One of the great commonalities of the lives of noted authors is that a great many of them over the last two centuries began professionally in the same way: they worked as journalists and very often for newspapers. There • Read More »