Literary November

About ten years ago, while pretending to get computerized, I started collecting literary birthdays and publication dates for my stepdaughter, who was teaching high school English at the time. Cutting and pasting, editing and adding dates and so on, were supposed to help me learn word processing. Obviously, that is still a work in progress. And so is the calendar, which I’ve kept nibbling at all this time, though I’m not entirely sure why — as an obsessive way to avoid real work, perhaps. Along the way, I’ve also incorporated birthdays and such for songwriters and scientists, and bits of poems, proverbs, song lyrics, and quotes in some way associated with a certain month or season, at least in my mind. Someday I may learn to upload relevant portraits and illustrations. Someday, proper layout and formatting, with quotes and poems nicely indented, authors’ names highlighted, days of the month in a larger font, and other glitzy features may even happen. A fully searchable data base for all this stuff would be great too, but I’m not holding my breath. I’m having fun adding Youtube videos though, with some good ones here if the links keep working. In fairness to readers I should wait until this is more presentable before posting it, but realistically I may never live that long! Ready or not, here’s what I’ve got.

– LLF, 26 December, 2011


Red and gold, and Halloween have passed us by.
The charcoal branches lean against the rosy sky.

– Sandy Denny

– William Shakespeare’s tragedy Othello is first presented at Whitehall Palace in 1604.

– Shakespeare’s play The Tempest is first performed at Whitehall Palace in 1611.

– Nicolas Boileau-Despréaux French poet, influential neoclassical critic 1636-1711
– Stephen Crane New Jersey-born novelist, reporter, poet; The Red Badge of Courage (1895) 1871-1900
– Sholem Asch Polish-born US Yiddish-language novelist, playwright, father of record producer Mo Asch 1880-1957
– Hermann Broch Vienna-born novelist 1886-1951
– Edward W. Said Jerusalem-born US academic, Palestinian activist, essayist; Orientalism (1978), Culture and Imperialism (1992) 1935-2003

– Kinky [Richard S.] Friedman Texas-born country-rock musician, songwriter, humorist, mystery novelist, political candidate 1944-

– Lee Smith Virginia-born Southern writer 1944-
– The first issue of one-time counterculture icon Rolling Stone magazine is published in 1967.

– Barbey D’Aurevilly French critic, novelist, short story writer; Les Diaboliques (1874) [The She-Devils] 1808-1889
– Odysseus Elytis Greek poet; 1979 Nobel 1911-1996

– Michelle Cliff Jamaica-born US sociological novelist, poet 1946-
– Irish playwright George Bernard Shaw dies in 1950.
– Penguin Books is acquitted of obscenity for publishing D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover in 1960.
– Humorist James Thurber dies in 1961.

– Lucan [Marcus Annaeus Lucanus] Iberia-born Latin poet; epic account of the civil war between Caesar and Pompey, Pharsalia 39-65 CE
– William Cullen Bryant Massachusetts-born romantic poet, editor, lawyer; poem “Thanatopsis” 1794-1878

– Rabble-rousing writer Thomas Paine is released from a Paris jail, with the help of US ambassador James Monroe in 1794.
– Karl Baedeker German guidebook publisher 1801-1859
– Andre Malraux French novelist 1901-1976
– Eugene O’Neill’s first play, the one-act Bound East for Cardiff, debuts in New York in 1916.
– Oodgeroo Noonuccal (born Kath Walker) Australian aboriginal poet, writer 1920-1993
– Terrence McNally Florida-born playwright 1939-
– Bert [Herbert] Jansch Glascow-born folk guitarist, singer, songwriter, Pentangle founding member 1943-2011

– Eden Phillpotts India-born British novelist, poet, playwright 1862-1960
– Will Rogers Oklahoma-born humorist, satirist 1879-1935 [died in a plane crash]

– Ciro Alegria Peruvian journalist, novelist 1909-1967
– Walter [Leland] Cronkite Missouri-born journalist, broadcast news pioneer 1916-2009
– Gram Parsons Florida-born country-rock guitarist, singer, songwriter, Burrito Brothers founding member 1946-1973

Not yesterday I learned to know
The love of bare November days
Before the coming of the snow….

– Robert Frost

– Ella Wheeler Wilcox Wisconsin-born sentimental poet; Poems of Passion (1883) 1850-1919

– Ida M. [Minerva] Tarbell Pennsylvania-born “muckraking” journalist, writer, social reformer 1857-1944
– James Elroy Flecker London-born poet, dramatist, translator 1884-1915
– Will [William James] Durant Massachusetts-born writer, historian;with wife Ariel, co-wrote 11-volume Story of Civilization 1885-1981
– Thomas Flanagan Connecticut-born novelist; noted Irish historical trilogy 1923-2002
– Novelist Sinclair Lewis becomes the first US writer to receive the Nobel Prize for literature in 1930.
– Geoffrey Wolff Los Angeles-born novelist, memoirist 1937-
– Tom Phelan Irish novelist 1940-
– Sam Shepard Illinois-born playwright, actor 1943-

– Thomas Kyd English dramatist 1558-1594 [baptism date]
– Colley Cibber English actor, dramatist, poet, memoirist 1671-1757
– Harold Ross Colorado-born journalist, editor; founded The New Yorker 1892-1951
– James [Ramon] Jones Illinois-born novelist; From Here To Eternity (1951) 1921-1977

– Albert Camus Algeria-born French existentialist essayist, novelist; The Stranger (1942), The Plague (1947), 1957 Nobel 1913-1960
– Rafael A. Lafferty Iowa-born science fiction writer; Hugo 1914-2002
– Joni Mitchell (born Roberta Joan Anderson) Canadian folk singer, songwriter; “Both Sides Now”, “Urge for Going”, “Circle Game” 1943-

– Former US first lady, columnist and activist Eleanor Roosevelt dies in 1962,

– Paradise Lost author, poet John Milton dies in 1674.
– Bram [Abraham] Stoker Irish-born English theater manager, author; Dracula (1897) 1847-1912
– Margaret Mitchell Georgia-born journalist, novelist; Pulitzer for Gone with the Wind (1936) 1900-1949

– Peter Weiss Germany-born Swedish novelist, dramatist, film director, painter 1916-1982
– Bonnie Raitt California-born blues/pop guitarist, singer, songwriter 1949-

– Kazuo Ishiguro Japan-born English novelist; Booker Prize for The Remains of the Day (1989) 1954-

November comes, And November goes,
With the last red berries And the first white snows.

With night coming early, And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket And frost by the gate.

The fires burn And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest Until next spring.

– Elizabeth Coatsworth

– Ivan [Sergeyevich] Turgenev Russian novelist, poet, playwright 1818-1883
– Anne Sexton Massachusetts-born poet 1928-1974 [death by suicide]

– Carl [Edward] Sagan Brooklyn-born astronomer, science and science fiction author; Pulitzer for The Dragons of Eden (1977), creator/host PBS science series Cosmos (1980) 1934-1996

– Poet Dylan Thomas dies in 1953.

– Oliver Goldsmith Irish novelist, poet, dramatist; novel The Vicar of Wakefield (1764), play She Stoops to Conquer (1773) 1728-1774

– [Johann Christoph] Friedrich von Schiller German poet, lyricist, historian, playwright; plays Mary Stuart (1800), Wilhelm Tell (1804); poem “Ode to Joy” (1785) used in Beethoven’s 9th Symphony 1759-1805

{And here’s a slightly different reading cum translation.}

– Vachel [Nicholas] Lindsay Illinois-born poet 1879-1931

– J. P. [John Phillips] Marquand Delaware-born novelist 1893-1960
– W. E. B. Griffin (aka William E. Butterworth III) Delaware-born military, police novelist 1929-
– In 1975, the freighter Edmund Fitzgerald and its crew of 29 vanish during a storm on Lake Superior, the event recounted in Gordon Lightfoot’s song “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald”.

– Nigerian playwright and activist Ken Saro-Wiwa dies, hanged by his country’s military regime in 1995.

– Fyodor [Mikhailovich] Dostoevsky Russian novelist; Crime and Punishment (1866), The Brothers Karamazov (1880) 1821-1881

– Howard [Melvin] Fast New York City-born novelist 1914-2003
– Margaret Taylor Burroughs Louisiana-born poet, artist,, art teacher 1917-2010
– Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. Indianapolis-born science fiction writer; Slaughterhouse Five (1969) 1922-2007

– Carlos Fuentes Mexican novelist 1928-2012
– Marshall Crenshaw Detroit-born rock guitarist, singer, songwriter; “Cynical Girl” 1953-

– Joseph Heller’s satiric novel Catch-22 is published in 1961.

Something told the wild geese
It was time to go,
Though the fields lay golden
Something whispered, “snow.”

– Rachel Field

– Elizabeth Cady Stanton New York-born womens rights activist, theorist; The Woman’s Bible (1895) 1815-1902
– DeWitt Wallace Minnesota-born publisher; founded Reader’s Digest magazine 1889-1981
– Tracy Kidder New York City-born non-fiction writer; House, Among Schoolchildren 1945-
– Neil [Percival] Young Canadian rock guitarist, songwriter; “I Am a Child”, “Ohio” 1945-

– St. Augustine of Hippo North Africa-born Catholic bishop, influential theologian; Confessions, The City of God 354-430
– Robert Louis [Balfour] Stevenson Scottish author; Treasure Island (1883), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) 1850-1894

– George V. [Vincent] Higgins Massachusetts-born crime writer, columnist 1939-

– Adam G. [Gottlob] Oehlenschläger Danish poet 1779-1850
– Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick is published in the US in 1851.
– Astrid Lindgren Swedish children’s writer; Pippi Longstocking stories 1907-2002
– Harrison E. [Evans] Salisbury Minnesota-born journalist, non-fiction author; Pulitzer for international reporting 1908-1993
– Norman Alexander MacCaig Scottish poet 1910-1996
– P. J. [Patrick Jake] O’Rourke Ohio-born satirist, political columnist 1947-

– The final installment of Charles Dickens’ novel A Tale of Two Cities is published in 1859.

– Gerhart Hauptmann German poet, dramatist, novelist; 1912 Nobel 1862-1946
– Marianne Moore St. Louis-born poet; 1951 Pulitzer 1887-1972

– Sacheverell Sitwell English biographer, art critic 1897-1988
– Graham Parker London-born rock singer, songwriter 1950-

– Tim Pears British novelist 1956-
– Tibor Fischer British darkly comic novelist 1959-

Whenever I find myself growing grim about the mouth; whenever it is a damp, drizzly November in my soul; whenever I find myself involuntarily pausing before coffin warehouses, and bringing up the rear of every funeral I meet; and especially whenever my hypos get such an upper hand of me, that it requires a strong moral principle to prevent me from deliberately stepping into the street, and methodically knocking people’s hats off … then, I account it high time to get to sea as soon as I can.

– Herman Melville

– Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoevsky is sentenced to death in 1849 – the sentence is later commuted to exile in Siberia.
– George S. [Simon] Kaufman Pittsburgh-born playwright, journalist; Pulitzer 1889-1961
– Michael Arlen (born Dikran Kuyumjian) Bulgaria-born Armenian/English writer; An American Verdict 1895-1956
– Colin [Milton] Thiele Australian prolific children’s writer; won Australian Children’s Book Award twice 1920-2006
– José Saramago Portuguese playwright, novelist, short story writer; 1998 Nobel 1922-2010
– Julian F. [Francis] Thompson New York City-born young-adult novelist; The Grounding of Group 6 1927-
– [Albert] Chinua[lumogu] Achebe Nigerian writer, essayist, poet; first novel Things Fall Apart 1930-2013
– The musical The Sound of Music opens on Broadway in 1959.

– Joost van Den Vondel German-born Dutch poet, dramatist 1587-1679
– Shelby Foote Mississippi-born novelist, Civil War historian; friend of Walker Percy 1916-2005

– Peter Cook British comedian, writer 1937-1995

– Gordon Lightfoot Canadian folk guitarist, singer, songwriter: “Early Morning Rain”, “Don Quixote”, “The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald” 1938-

– British novelist Doris Lessing dies in 2013.

– William Caxton publishes “Dictes and Sayenges of the Phylosophers,”, the first book to be printed in England, in 1477.
– William S. [Schwenck] Gilbert British humorist, dramatist; lyrical half Gilbert & Sullivan team, The Mikado, Pirates of Penzance 1836-1911

– Clarence [Shepard] Day New York City-born writer; Life with Father 1874-1935
– Johnny [John Herndon] Mercer Savannah-born lyricist; “Moon River,” “Come Rain or Come Shine,” “Days of Wine and Roses” 1909-1976

– Reclusive French novelist Marcel Proust dies in Parisin 1922.
– Margaret [Eleanor] Atwood Canadian environmental activist, novelist, poet, short-story writer; The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) 1939-

– Julia Ward Howe writes the lyrics for “Battle Hymn of the Republic” in 1861.

– Abraham Lincoln delivers his iconic Gettysburg Address in 1863.

– [John Orley] Allen Tate Kentucky-born poet 1899-1979

– Legendary socialist union organizer and songwriter Joe Hill dies, executed for murder in Utah in 1915.

No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,
No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds – November!

– Thomas Hood

– Thomas Chatterton English poet; “Song From Aella” 1752-1770 [death by suicide]
– Selma Lagerlöf Swedish novelist; 1909 Nobelfor literature — the first for a woman 1858-1940
– Henry James’ first novel Roderick Hudson is published in 1875.
– War and Peace author Russian novelist Leo Tolstoy dies in 1910. [new calender date]
– Nadine Gordimer South African political activist, novelist, short-story writer; 1991 Nobel 1923-2014

– Voltaire (born Francois-Marie Arouet) French philosopher, writer; Candide 1694-1778
– Isaac Bashevis Singer (born Yitskhek Bashyevis Zinger) Polish-born Yiddish-language novelist; 1978 Nobel 1902-1991 [birth date uncertain]
– Jim [James Alonzo] Bishop New Jersey-born journalist, author; The Day Kennedy Was Shot 1907-1987
– Marilyn [Edwards] French Brooklyn-born feminist novelist; The Women’s Room 1929-2009
– Beryl [Margaret] Bainbridge English actress, short-story writer, novelist 1933-2010

– Abigail [Smith] Adams Massachusetts-born first lady, wife of John Adams; known for her extensive correspondence 1744-1818
– George Eliot (born Mary Anne Evans) English novelist; The Mill on the Floss (1860), Silas Marner (1861), Middlemarch (1872) 1819-1880

– José Maria de Hérédia Cuba-born French poet, translator; evocative sonnets, sensuous Caribbean imagery 1842-1905
– George [Robert] Gissing English novelist; bitter social realism novels examined poverty’s deleterious effect on character 1857-1903
– Cecil [James] Sharp London-born musicologist; collected British, American folk songs and dances 1859-1924
– André [Paul Guillaume] Gide French novelist, poet; 1947 Nobel 1869-1951
– Call of the Wild author Jack London dies of kidney disease in 1916.
– Brave New World author Aldous Huxley dies in 1963.
– US president John F. Kennedy dies by assassination in 1963.

– The musical Man of La Mancha, based on Cervantes’ novel Don Quixote, opens in New York City in 1965.

– Shaun Herron Irish-born Canadian academic, mystery novelist, journalist 1912-1989
– Paul Celan [Antschel] Romanian poet 1920-1970
– Gayl Jones Kentucky-born gothic novelist, poet, short story writer 1949-

You see the geese in chevron flight,
flapping and racing on before the snow.
They’ve got the urge for going,
and they’ve got the wings to go.

– Joni Mitchell

– Charles D’Orléans (aka Charles, Duke of Orléans) French poet; wrote in French, Latin and English 1394-1465
– Benedict [Baruch] de Spinoza Dutch philosopher, author,, lens-grinder 1632-1677
– Laurence Sterne Anglo-Irish clergyman, novelist; Tristram Shandy 1713-1768
– Carlo Collodi (born Carlo Lorenzini) Italian journalist, children’s author; Pinocchio 1826-1890
– Frances Hodgson Burnett British-born writer; The Secret Garden 1849-1924

– Charles Darwin’s landmark treatise On the Origin of Species, outlining the theory of evolution, is published in 1859.
– Dale [Breckenridge] Carnegie Missouri-born lecturer, author; How to Win Friends and Influence People 1888-1955
– Garson Kanin New York-born playwright, producer; friend of Katharine Hepburn 1912-1999
– Irish nationalist and novelist Erskine Childers is executed, by Ireland’s government, in 1922.
– William F. [Frank] Buckley, Jr. New York City-born conservative political commentator, editor, author; founded National Review 1925-2008

– Lope [Felix] de Vega Spanish dramatist, poet 1562-1635
– Helen Hooven Santmyer Ohio-born novelist; …And Ladies of the Club 1895-1986
– Shelagh Delaney English playwright 1939-
– Novelist Upton Sinclair dies in 1968.
– Prolific novelist Yukio Mishima dies by ritual suicide in 1970.
– English Singer-songwriter Nick Drake dies by suicide or accidental overdose in 1974.

– William Cowper English pre-Romantic poet, hymnist, translator, letter-writer; co-wrote Olney Hymns 1731-1800
– Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland manuscript is sent as a Christmas present in 1862.

– Eugène Ionesco (born Eugen Ionescu) Romanian-born French absurdist/surrealist playwright; Rhinoceros (1959) 1909-1994

That time of year thou mayst in me behold
When yellow leaves, or none, or few, do hang
Upon those boughs which shake against the cold,
Bare ruin’d choirs, where late the sweet birds sang.
In me thou seest the twilight of such day
As after sunset fadeth in the west,
Which by and by black night doth take away,
Death’s second self, that seals up all in rest.
In me thou see’st the glowing of such fire
That on the ashes of his youth doth lie,
As the death-bed whereon it must expire
Consumed with that which it was nourish’d by.
This thou perceivest, which makes thy love more strong,
To love that well which thou must leave ere long.

– William Shakespeare

– James Agee Tennessee-born novelist, critic, poet; co-wrote: Let Us Now Praise Famous Men
(1941), screenplay The African Queen (1951); Pulitzer for novel A Death in the Family (1957) 1909-1955
– Gail Sheehy New York-born author; the Passages books 1937-
– Jimi [James Marshall] Hendrix Seattle-born innovative rock guitarist, singer, songwriter; “Little Wing” 1942-1970

– Playwright Eugene O’Neill dies in 1953.
– English mystery novelist P. D James dies in 2014

– John Bunyan English cleric, author; Pilgrim’s Progress (part I, 1678; part II, 1684) 1628-1688
– William Blake English visionary, revolutionary poet, painter; Songs of Innocence (1789), Songs of Experience (1794), The Marriage of Heaven and Hell (c.1790) 1757-1827

– Friedrich Engels Germany-born British socialist philosopher; co-wrote The Communist Manifesto with Karl Marx 18201895
– Nikolai Nekrasov Russian poet, journalist 1821-1878
– “Sleepy Hollow” author Washington Irving dies in 1859.
– Alexander Alexandrovich Blok Russian poet, dramatist; The Twelve (1912) which welcomes the Revolution 1880-1921
– Stefan Zweig Vienna-born poet, translator, biographer, short-story writer, novelist 1888-1992
– Nancy Mitford London-born satiric novelist, essayist; Love in a Cold Climate 1904-1973
– Owen [Vincent] Dodson Brooklyn-born academic, dramatist, poet, novelist 1914-1983
– Lance Jeffers Nebraska-born poet, novelist 1919-1985
– Dennis [Vincent] Brutus (aka John Bruin) Zimbabwe-born South African poet 1924-2009
– Randy [Randall Stuart] Newman Los Angeles-born sardonic singer, songwriter; “Political Science”, “Monk” series theme song 1943-

– Rita Mae Brown Pennsylvania-born novelist, mystery writer; Rubyfruit Jungle, the Sneaky Pie mysteries 1944-

– Andrés Bello Venezuelan poet, scholar 1781-1865
– Louisa May Alcott Pennsylvania-born writer; Little Women (1868), Little Men 1832-1888
– C. S. [Clive Staples] Lewis English essayist, children’s writer, Christian apologist; The Sword in the Stone 1898-1963
– Carlo Levi Italian painter, novelist 1902-1975
– Madeleine [Camp] L’Engle New York City-born essayist, children’s writer; Newbury for A Wrinkle in Time (1962) 1918-2007
– Sue Miller Boston-born novelist, short-story writer 1943-
– Stan [Stanley Allison] Rogers Canadian folk singer, songwriter; “North West Passage”, “The Wreck of the Jeanie C.” 1949-1983 [died in an airplane fire]

– Phillip Sidney English courtier, poet 1554-1586

– Jonathan Swift English satirist; A Modest Proposal, Gulliver’s Travels (1726) 1667-1745
– Mark Twain (born Samuel Langhorne Clemens) Missouri-born humorist, novelist; Roughing It (1872), Tom Sawyer (1876), The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885) 1835-1910

– [Sir] Winston [Spencer] Churchill British statesman, historian; Pulitzer for History of the English-Speaking Peoples (1950) 1874-1965

– L. M. [Lucy Maud] Montgomery Canadian writer; Anne of Green Gables series 1874-1942
– Flamboyant Irish writer Oscar Wilde dies in 1900.
– Jacques [Martin] Barzun French-born US writer; critical, historical studies 1907-
– Gordon [Alexander Buchanan] Parks Kansas-born photographer, novelist, autobiographer, essayist, composer, film producer; novel The Learning Tree (1963) 1912-2006
– Kevin [Price] Phillips Bronx-born political, economics writer, commentator; Wealth and Democracy (2002), American Theocracy (2006) 1940
– David Mamet Chicago-born playwright, screenwriter, director; Glengary, Glenross 1947-

Winter’s coming; we live a shorter day.
The sun is hunting for a place to stay.
And Jack Frost’s fingers are in the wind again.

Bold October bowls me over. damp November makes me cry.
Then in December, cruel December, the cold wind comes to sting my eyes.

Now is the time for fire and wine
Fire for the body, and wine for the mind
We will sing and play till break of day
And we will drive the frosts away!

– Steve Ashley


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