Mary Anne Evans, commonly known as George Eliot, was born on November 22, 1819. Evans wrote under a male pen name to ensure that her works would be taken seriously. At the time it was thought that women authors wrote only lighthearted romances.
Middlemarch, for instance, deals with subjects like the Great Reform Bill, the beginnings of railways and the death of King George IV. Virginia Woolf once said that Middlemarch, “is one of the few English novels written for grown-up people.”
Other novels by George Eliot include Adam Bede, The Mill on the Floss, Silas Marner, Romola, Daniel Deronda as well as Felix Holt, the Radical.
Pride helps us; and pride is not a bad thing when it only urges us to hide our own hurts—not to hurt others. ~ Middlemarch by George Eliot
Charles Dickens, famous for the indelible child characters he created—from Little Nell to Oliver Twist and David Copperfield—was also the father of ten children (and a possible eleventh). What happened to those children is the fascinating subject of Robert Gottlieb’s Great Expectations. With sympathy and understanding he narrates the highly various and surprising stories of each of Dickens’s sons and daughters, from Kate, who became a successful artist, to Frank, who died in Moline, Illinois, after serving a grim stretch in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Each of these lives is fascinating on its own. Together they comprise a unique window on Victorian England as well as a moving and disturbing study of Dickens as a father and as a man.
Classic literature can be inspirational. It can be poetic. It can be educational. Classic literature can also be really funny! Check out these ten funny quotes from literature:
1 – “How dreadful!” cried Lord Henry. “I can stand brute force, but brute reason is quite unbearable. There is something unfair about its use. It is hitting below the intellect.” ~ The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
2 – “If you could see my legs when I take my boots off, you’d form some idea of what unrequited affection is.” ~ Dombey and Son by Charles Dickens
3 – Indeed, he would sometimes remark, when a man fell into his anecdotage, it was a sign for him to retire from the world. ~ Lothair by Benjamin Disraeli
4 – You cannot make a man by standing a sheep on its hind-legs. But by standing a flock of sheep in that position you can make a crowd of men. ~ Zuleika Dobson by Sir Max Beerbohm
5 – The bishop did not whistle: we believe that they lose the power of doing so on being consecrated. ~ The Warden by Anthony Trollope
6 – A story with a moral appended is like the bill of a mosquito. It bores you, and then injects a stinging drop to irritate your conscience. ~ Strictly Business by O. Henry
7 – From politics, it was an easy step to silence. ~ Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
8 – Few things are harder to put up with than the annoyance of a good example. ~ The Tragedy of Pudd’nhead Wilson by Mark Twain
9 – It is not that I object to the work, mind you; I like work: it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours. ~ Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K. Jerome
10 – I don’t want to repeat my innocence. I want the pleasure of losing it again. ~ This Side of Paradise by F. Scott Fitzgerald
In Verona, Italy there’s a house called Casa di Giulietta or Juliet’s House. While Romeo and Juliet are fictional characters, that hasn’t stopped thousands of tourists from flocking to Juliet’s house and attaching their love letters to Juliet’s wall. It’s said that affixing a love letter to the wall will make the love everlasting.
It’s very romantic and evidently very messy as the notes are often stuck to the wall using chewing gum. The Verona city council has now banned the practice except for specially marked panels. The fine for bypassing the special panels and attaching a note to the wall of Juliet’s house is 500 euros.
Terry Pratchett, author of the Discworld novels, leaves fantasy for a moment to write about Victorian England with Dodger.
As you might guess, the main character of the novel is based on the Artful Dodger from Oliver Twist. Dodger is a young adult who lives by his wits in London. The story starts out on, pardon the cliché, a dark and stormy night …
A storm. Rain-lashed city streets. A flash of lightning. A scruffy lad sees a girl leap desperately from a horse-drawn carriage in a vain attempt to escape her captors. Can the lad stand by and let her be caught again? Of course not, because he’s . . . Dodger.
Seventeen-year-old Dodger may be a street urchin, but he gleans a living from London’s sewers, and he knows a jewel when he sees one. He’s not about to let anything happen to the unknown girl—not even if her fate impacts some of the most powerful people in England.
From Dodger’s encounter with the mad barber Sweeney Todd to his meetings with the great writer Charles Dickens and the calculating politician Benjamin Disraeli, history and fantasy intertwine in a breathtaking account of adventure and mystery.
Beloved and bestselling author Sir Terry Pratchett combines high comedy with deep wisdom in this tale of an unexpected coming-of-age and one remarkable boy’s rise in a complex and fascinating world.
Bram Stoker, the author of Dracula, was born on November 8, 1847 and died on April 20, 1912. Here are five quick facts about the author that you may not know:
1 – Although we may think of Stoker as being English, he was actually born in Clontarf, Ireland. (Clontarf is a suburb of Dublin.)
2 – He was a sickly child and was bedridden for much of his first seven years. However Stoker thrived after that. He grew to be over six feet tall. His red hair plus athletic build lead a biographer to refer to Stoker as a “red-haired giant.”
3 – An early romantic interest of Oscar Wilde was Florence Balcombe. She eventually became the wife of Bram Stoker.
4 – Stoker was a late bloomer in terms of his writing career. He didn’t publish Dracula until he was fifty years old.
5 – Speaking of Dracula, in the 1980s the original manuscript of the novel was found in a barn in Pennsylvania. It revealed that Stoker considered calling the novel THE UN-DEAD. I don’t know about you, but I like Dracula better.