Friday, October 31, 2014

2014 Watty Award Nominees

October 31, 2014 - Wattpad announces 2014 Watty Award Nominees

My feature story - Irish Novelist James Joyce Died

please share to vote #wattys2014

Stephen Crane was Born - November 1, 1871

This week (October 31- November 6) in English literary history – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes was published (October 31, 1892); Stephen Crane was born (November 1, 1871); Penguin Books was acquitted of obscenity charges over D.H. Lawrence’s Lady Chatterley’s Lover (November 2, 1960); William Makepeace Thackeray’s The Luck of Barry Lyndon was published in Fraser’s Magazine (November 3, 1844); T.S. Eliot was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature (November 4, 1948); Willa Cather began writing for the Nebraska State Journal (November 5, 1893); English Playwright Thomas Kyd was baptized (November 6, 1558). 

Highlighted Story of the Week -  

On November 1, 1871, Stephen Crane, author of The Red Badge of Courage, was born Newark, New Jersey. His father died when Crane was 9, and the family later settled in Asbury Park, New Jersey. At Syracuse University, Crane played baseball for a year before dropping out to become a journalist in New York City. He worked briefly for several newspapers and scraped by in near poverty. While struggling to make a living, Crane closely observed the characters around him. In 1893, at age 23, he published Maggie: A Girl of the Streets, about a poor girl's decline into prostitution and suicide. Finding a publisher was difficult given the book's scandalous content, so Crane ultimately published it himself. The book was a critical success but failed to sell well. He turned his attention to more popular topics and wrote The Red Badge of Courage (1895). The book was serialized by a newspaper syndicate, and Crane became an international celebrity at age 24. 

After the novel's success, the newspaper syndicate sent Crane to cover the West and Mexico. In 1897, he went to Cuba to write about the insurrection against Spain. On the way there, he stayed at a dingy hotel where he met Cora Howard Taylor, who became his lifelong companion. In 1897, his boat to Cuba sank, and he barely survived. His short story "The Open Boat" is based on his experiences in a lifeboat with the captain and cook. Crane later covered the war between Greece and Turkey, and settled in England, where he made friends with other literary greats such as Joseph Conrad, H.G. Wells, and Henry James. 

Crane had been in poor health for many years and had contracted tuberculosis in his late 20s. Cora Howard Taylor nursed him while he wrote furiously in an attempt to pay off his debts. He exhausted himself and exacerbated his condition. In late May 1900, he and Cora traveled to a health spa in the Black Forest near Badenweiler, Germany where he died on June 5, at the age of 28. His body was returned to the U.S. for burial at Evergreen Cemetery in Newark, New Jersey.  

Check back every Friday for a new installment of This Week in English Literary History 

Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that include the gold medal winning Literary Legends of the British Isles: The Lives and Burial Places of 50 Great Writers (2013) and America’s Literary Legends: The Lives and Burial Places of 50 Great Writers (2015). Visit Michael’s website for more information. These books can be purchased through the following links:

Monday, October 27, 2014

Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India was Assassinated - October 31, 1984

This week (October 27-November 2) in crime history – Mob boss John Gotti was born (October 27, 1940); Legendary Rock n’ Roll icon Chuck Berry goes on trial for Mann Act violations (October 28, 1961); Dominick Dunne was born (October 29, 1925); President William McKinley’s assassin was excecuted (October 29, 1901); Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister if India was assassinated (October 31, 1984); President Harry Truman escapes assassination attempt (November 1, 1950); President Ngo Dinh Diem of South Vietnam was assassinated (November 2, 1963). 

Highlighted Crime of the Week – 

On October 31, 1984, Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister of India, was assassinated in New Delhi by two of her own bodyguards. Beant Singh and Satwant Singh, both Sikhs, emptied their guns into Gandhi as she walked to her office from an adjoining bungalow. Although the two assailants immediately surrendered, they were both shot in a subsequent scuffle, and Beant died.  

Jawaharlal Nehru, the first prime minister of India, attempted to forge a unified nation out of the many religious, ethnic, and cultural factions that existed under British rule until 1949. His daughter, Indira Gandhi (no relation to Mohandas Gandhi), rose to power in 1966, fighting many of the same problems as her father had. Her own political career was a roller coaster, from the highs following India's victory over Pakistan in 1971 to the lows of being thrown out of office in 1977 after declaring a state of emergency in 1975, during which time she suspended civil liberties and jailed her political opponents. Although many criticized her for being authoritarian, the majority of the population supported her because of her extensive social programs. 

In 1980, Gandhi became prime minister again, enjoying fairly widespread popularity. However, in June 1984, she ordered an army raid on a Sikh temple in Punjab to flush out armed Sikh extremists, setting off a series of death threats. Due to the fear of assassination, Beant Singh, her longtime bodyguard, was to be transferred because he was a Sikh. However, Gandhi personally rescinded the transfer order because she trusted him after his many years of service. Obviously, this was a fatal mistake for both of them. Satwant Singh, who survived to stand trial, was convicted in 1986 and executed in 1989. Following Gandhi's assassination, riots broke out in New Delhi. More than 1,000 innocent Sikhs were killed in indiscriminate attacks over the course of two days. Gandhi's son, Rajiv, succeeded her as prime minister.

Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for and is the author of numerous books that include the award winning, Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949 (2012, Schiffer Publishing). The book was the WINNER of the 2012 International Book Awards and a FINALIST in the 2012 Indie Excellence Book Awards for True Crime.  Visit the author's website for more information:    

The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:   

Friday, October 24, 2014

Jane Austen's "Sense and Sensibility" was Published - October 30, 1811

This week (October 24-31) in English literary history – Henry Fielding became justice of the peace (October 25, 1748); Henry James and Edith Wharton begin corresponding (October 26, 1900); Sylvia Plath was born (October 27, 1932); George Bernard Shaw’s “Mrs. Warren’s Profession” was performed on New York (October 28, 1905); Jane Austen’s “Sense and Sensibility” was published (October 30, 1811); Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes” was published (October 31, 1892) 

Highlighted Story of the Week -   

On October 30, 1811, Jane Austen's Sense and Sensibility was published anonymously. A small circle of people, including the Price Regent, learned Austen's identity, but most of the British public knew only that the popular book had been written "by a Lady." Austen was born on December 16, 1775 in Steventon, a country village in Hampshire, England. She was very close to her older sister, Cassandra, who remained her faithful editor and critic throughout her life. The girls had five years of formal schooling, then studied with their father. Jane read voraciously and began writing stories as young as age 12, completing an early novella at age 14. 

Austen's quiet, happy world was disrupted when her father retired to Bath in 1801. Jane hated the resort town but amused herself by making close observations of ridiculous society manners. After her father's death in 1805, Jane, her mother, and sister lived with one of her brothers until 1808, when another brother provided them a permanent home at Chawton Cottage, in Hampshire. 

Jane concealed her writing from most of her acquaintances, slipping her writing paper under a blotter when someone entered the room. Though she avoided society, she was charming, intelligent, and funny. She rejected at least one proposal of marriage. She published several more novels before her death, including Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814), and Emma (1815). She died on July 18, 1817 in Winchester, England at age 42, of what today is thought to be Addison's disease. 

Check back every Friday for a new installment on the lives of the great writers of English literature 

Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that includes the gold medal winning Literary Legends of the British Isles: The Lives and Burial Places of 50 Great Writers and the upcoming release of America’s Literary Legends: The Lives and Burial Places of 50 Great Writers (January 2015). These books can be purchased from Amazon through the following links:





Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge was Born - October 21, 1772

On this date in English literary history – October 21, 1772, poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born in the small town of Ottery St. Mary in Devonshire, England. Coleridge's father died when he was a boy, and young Samuel was sent off to boarding school in London and eventually attended Cambridge. After becoming disillusioned with school he fled his debtors and enlisted in the cavalry, which he later abandoned with help from his brothers. He then returned to Cambridge, where he met poet Robert Southey. The two dreamed of one day establishing a utopian society in Pennsylvania. In 1795, Coleridge met poet William Wordsworth. The two became close friends and collaborators, assisted by Dorothy Wordsworth, the poet's sister. The siblings moved near Coleridge, and in 1798 Wordsworth and Coleridge published Lyrical Ballads, which established the Romantic school of poetry. It included Coleridge's famous poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner." 

Coleridge's life began to unravel at the turn of the century. He became estranged from his wife and fell in love with Sara Hutchinson, whose sister married William Wordsworth three years later. Meanwhile, his health began to suffer, and he began taking large doses of opium to control his rheumatism and other problems. He became addicted to the drug, and his creative output waned. In 1810, he broke with Wordsworth, and the two would not reconcile for nearly 20 years. During this period, Coleridge supported himself through a series of successful lectures on literature. Meanwhile, he single-handedly wrote, edited, and distributed his review, The Friend. In 1813 he published, Remorse, which was well received by critics. Thanks to the help of Dr. James Gillman and his wife, Coleridge began to cut back on his opium use. In 1816, he published the fragmentary poem "Kubla Khan," written under the influence of opium, circa 1797. In 1817, he published a significant work of criticism, Biographa Literaria, and in 1828 was reconciled with Wordsworth. Coleridge died at Highgate, London on July 25, 1834 from heart failure.

Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that includes the gold medal winning Literary Legends of the British Isles: The Lives and Burial Places of 50 Great Writers. Visit Michael’s website for more information. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: 

Monday, October 20, 2014

Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd was Killed by FBI Agents (October 22, 1934)

This week (October 20-26) in crime history – Members of the rap group 2 Live Crew were acquitted of obscenity charges (October 20, 1990); Pretty Boy Floyd was killed by FBI agents (October 22, 1934); Dr. Barnett Slepian was shot to death by anti-abortion radicals (October 23, 1998); Chenchen rebels take 700 hostages at Moscow theater (October 23, 2002); Marv Albert was sentenced for infamous biting assault case (October 24, 1997); Susan Smith falsely claimed she was carjacked to cover-up murder of her two children (October 25, 1994); Former Secretary of Interior Albert Fall was found guilty of bribery in the Teapot Dome scandal (October 25, 1929); Shootout at the OK Corral (October 26, 1881) 

Highlighted Crime Story of the Week -  

On October 22, 1934, Charles "Pretty Boy" Floyd was shot and killed by FBI agents in a cornfield in East Liverpool, Ohio. Floyd, who had been a hotly pursued fugitive for four years, used his last breath to deny his involvement in the infamous Kansas City Massacre, in which four officers were shot to death at a train station. He died shortly thereafter. Floyd grew up in a small town in Oklahoma. When it became impossible to operate a small farm in the drought conditions of the late 1920s, Floyd tried his hand at bank robbery. He soon found himself in a Missouri prison for robbing a St. Louis payroll delivery. After being paroled in 1929, he learned that Jim Mills had shot his father to death. Since Mills, who had been acquitted of the charges, was never heard from or seen again, Floyd was believed to have killed him. 

Moving on to Kansas City, Floyd got mixed up with the city's burgeoning criminal community. A local prostitute gave Floyd the nickname "Pretty Boy," which he hated. Along with a couple of friends he had met in prison, he robbed several banks in Missouri and Ohio, but was eventually caught in Ohio and sentenced to 12-15 years. On the way to prison, Floyd kicked out a window and jumped from the speeding train. He made it to Toledo, where he hooked up with Bill "The Killer" Miller. The two went on a crime spree across several states until Miller was killed in a spectacular firefight in Bowling Green, Ohio, in 1931. Once he was back in Kansas City, Floyd killed a federal agent during a raid and became a nationally known crime figure. This time he escaped to the backwoods of Oklahoma. The locals there, reeling from the Depression, were not about to turn in an Oklahoma native for robbing banks. Floyd became a Robin Hood-type figure, staying one step ahead of the law.  

However, not everyone was so enamored with "Pretty Boy." Oklahoma's governor issued a $6,000 bounty for his arrest. On June 17, 1933, when law enforcement officials were ambushed by a machine-gun attack in a Kansas City train station while transporting criminal Frank Nash to prison, Floyd's notoriety grew even more. Although it was not clear whether or not Floyd was responsible, both the FBI and the nation's press pegged the crime on him. As a result, pressure was stepped up to capture the illustrious fugitive, and the FBI finally got their man in October 1934.

Michael Thomas Barry is a columnist for and is the author of numerous books that include the award winning Murder and Mayhem 52 Crimes that Shocked Early California, 1849-1949. Visit Michael’s website for more information. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: 

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Oscar Wilde was Born (October 16, 1854)

On this date in English literary history – October 16, 1854, Oscar Wilde was born in Dublin, Ireland. A popular society figure known for his wit and flamboyant style, he published his own book of poems in 1881. He spent a year lecturing on poetry in the United States, where his dapper wardrobe and excessive devotion to art drew ridicule from some quarters. After returning to Britain, Wilde married and had two children, for whom he wrote delightful fairy tales, which were published in 1888. Meanwhile, he wrote reviews and edited Women's World. In 1890, his only novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray, was published serially, appearing in book form the following year. He wrote his first play, The Duchess of Padua, in 1891 and wrote five more in the next four years. His plays, including The Importance of Being Earnest (1895), were successful and made him a popular and well-known writer. 

In 1895, the Marquess of Queensberry denounced Wilde as a homosexual, accusing him of having an affair with the marquess's son. Wilde sued for libel, but lost his case when evidence strongly supported the marquess's observations. Unfortunately, homosexuality was classified as a crime in England at the time. Wilde was arrested, found guilty, and sentenced to two years of hard labor. He was released from prison in 1897 and fled to Paris, where his many loyal friends visited him. He started writing again, producing The Ballad of Reading Gaol, based on his experiences in prison. He died of acute meningitis in 1900.

Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous award winning books that includes the gold medal winning Literary Legends of the British Isles: The Lives and Burial Places of 50 Great Writers. Visit Michael’s website for more information. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: