Thursday, August 21, 2014

Novelist A.A. Milne's Son Christopher Robin was Born (August 21, 1920)



On this date in English literary history - August 21, 1920, Daphne Milne, wife of writer A.A. Milne, gave birth to a son, who the couple named Christopher Robin Milne. Christopher Robin will be immortalized in Milne's books Winnie-the-Pooh and The House at Pooh Corner. A.A. Milne was born in London in 1882, the youngest of three sons. His parents were both schoolteachers and his father was headmaster at a school where H.G. Wells taught. His family claimed Milne taught himself to read at age two. He began writing humorous pieces as a schoolboy and continued at Cambridge, where he edited the undergraduate paper. In 1903, he left Cambridge and went to London to write. Although he was broke by the end of his first year, he persevered and supported himself until 1906 with his writing. That year, he joined humor magazine Punch as an editor and wrote humorous verse and essays for the magazine for eight years, until World War I broke out. While at Punch, he wrote his first book-for adults, not children. 

In 1913, he married Daphne and two years later went to France to serve in World War I. While in the military, he wrote three plays, one of which, Mr. Pim Passes By, became a hit in 1919 and provided financial security for the family. In 1920, the couple's only son, Christopher Robin, was born. In 1925, the family bought Cotchford Farm in Sussex; a nearby forest inspired the 100-Acre Wood where Winnie-the-Pooh's adventures would be set. Milne published two volumes of the verse he wrote for his son. When We Were Very Young was published in 1924, followed by Now We Are Six in 1927. When Christopher Robin was an infant, he received a stuffed bear as a present. The child soon accumulated a collection of similar animals, which inspired Milne to begin writing a series of whimsical stories about the toys. Winnie-the-Pooh was published in 1926 and The House at Pooh Corner in 1928. Ernest Shepard illustrated the books, using Christopher Robin and his animals as models. A.A. Milne wrote numerous other books and plays, but is remembered almost solely for his beloved children's work. He died in 1956.

 
Michael Thomas Barry is the award winning author of numerous books that includes Literary Legends of the British Isles: The Lives and Burial Places of 50 Great Writers. The book was named a finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and Readers Favorite International Book Awards. Visit the author’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com for more information. The book can be purchased from Powell’s Books through the following link:

Monday, August 18, 2014

Menendez Brothers Murder their Parents (August 20, 1989)



This Week (August 18-24) in Crime History: U-2 pilot Francis Gary Powers was sentenced to prison for spying on the Soviet Union (August 19, 1960); West Memphis Three were released from prison after serving 18 years for murder (August 19, 2011); Menendez brothers murder their parents (August 20, 1989); Leon Trotsky was assassinated in Mexico (August 20, 1940); Vincenzo Perugia steals the Mona Lisa from the Louvre (August 21, 1911); Irish revolutionary Michael Collins was assassinated (August 22, 1922); Barker gang robs Federal Reserve mail truck in Chicago (August 22, 1933); Sacco and Vanzetti were executed (August 23, 1927); Mark David Chapman was sentenced to 20 years to life for killing John Lennon (August 24, 1981); Anders Behring Breiuik was sentenced to 21 years in prison for mass murder in Norway (August 24, 2012)

Highlighted crime of the week -  

On August 20, 1989, Lyle and Erik Menendez shot their parents, Jose and Kitty, to death in the den of the family's Beverly Hills, California, home. They then drove up to Mulholland Drive, where they dumped their shotguns before continuing to a local movie theater to buy tickets as an alibi. When the pair returned home, Lyle called 911 and cried, "Somebody killed my parents!" The Menendez murders became a national sensation when the new television network, Court TV, broadcast the trial in 1993. Although the Menendez brothers were not immediately suspected in the double homicide, Erik eventually confessed his involvement to his psychotherapist, Dr. L. Jerome Oziel. Ignoring his own ethical responsibilities, Dr. Oziel taped the sessions with his new patient in an apparent attempt to impress his mistress, but the woman ended up going to the police with her information and, in March 1990, Lyle and Erik were arrested. For the next three years, a legal battle was fought over the admissibility of Dr. Oziel's tapes. Finally, the California Supreme Court ruled that the tapes could be played. When the trial began in the summer of 1993, the Menendez brothers put on a spirited defense. In compelling testimony lasting over a month, they emotionally described years of sexual abuse by Jose and Kitty Menendez. They insisted that they had shot their parents in self-defense because they believed that Jose would kill them rather than have the abuse be exposed. The first two juries (one for each brother) deadlocked, and a mistrial was called. At the retrial, which began in October 1995, the judge was much more restrictive in allowing the defense attorneys to focus on the alleged sexual abuse. In March 1996, both Lyle and Erik were convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
 


Michael Thomas Barry 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: www.michaelthomasbarry.com.  The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:      

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Novelist Richard Henry Dana Began his Two Year Sea Adventure (August 14, 1834)



On this date in American literary history – August 14, 1834, 19-year-old Richard Henry Dana, author of Two Years Before the Mast, began his two year adventure as a seaman. Dana was born on August 1, 1815 in Cambridge, Massachusetts and as a young man enrolled at Harvard, but a case of the measles in college left his eyes weakened. This inspired him to take a sea voyage while recuperating. During his two years at sea, he sailed to California, then around Cape Horn, then back to Boston. He then resumed his studies and became an attorney. In 1840, he published Two Years Before the Mast, an semi-autobiographical account of the abuse endured by seamen. The book was very successful and the following year, he published The Seaman's Friend, a complete guide to the legal rights of seamen. Dana as also an ardent abolitionist and helped form the Free Soil Party in 1848. During his life time he would publish several other books that included To Cuba and Back (1859). He died on January 6, 1882 in Rome, Italy from influenza and was buried at the Protestant Cemetery within the city.
 
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous works that includes America’s Literary Legends: The Lives and Burial Places of 50 Great Writers. The book will be released in January 2015 and can be preordered from Amazon and other fine book sellers. For more information about the author visit his website www.michaelthomasbarry.com. To order the book click on the Amazon link below:

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Author Ian Fleming Died (August 12, 1964)



On this date in English literary history - August 12, 1964, author and journalist Ian Fleming, creator of James Bond, the world’s most famous spy, died from a heart attack at age 56 in Kent, England. Fleming’s series of novels about Agent 007, based in part on his own real-life experiences, spawned one of the most lucrative film franchises in history. Ian Lancaster Fleming was born into a well-to-do family in London on May 29, 1908. As an adult, he worked as a foreign correspondent, a stockbroker and a personal assistant to Britain’s director of naval intelligence during World War II; experiences that would all provide fodder for his Bond novels. The first Bond book, Casino Royale, was published in 1953. In all, Fleming wrote 12 novels and two short story collections about Agent 007, which together sold more than 18 million copies. The first Bond film, Dr. No, was released in 1962; it starred the Scottish actor Sean Connery in the title role. Connery played Bond in six films altogether; From Russia With Love (1963) and Goldfinger (1964) were the only ones made during Fleming’s lifetime. Since that time, five other actors have played the superspy in some two dozen films. Fleming, who did much of his writing at his Jamaican home, Goldeneye, he also penned a children’s book, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, and several works of non-fiction. Following Fleming’s death, a string of other authors were commissioned to write Bond novels.
 
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that include Literary Legends of the British Isles: The Lives and Burial Places of 50 Great Writers. The book was named a finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and Readers Favorite International Book Awards. Visit the author’s website for more information www.michaelthomasbarry.com. The book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link:

Monday, August 11, 2014

Terrorist Carlos the Jackal was Captured (August 14, 1994)



This week (August 11-17) in crime history – First federal prisoners arrive at Alcatraz (August 11, 1934); Sunset Slayer accomplice Carol Bundy confessed (August 11, 1980); Jonesboro School Massacre shooters were found guilty (August 11, 1998); Charlie Wilson, part of the gang that pulled off the 1963 Great Train Robbery in England escaped prison (August 12, 1964); Yosemite Slayer, Cary Stayner was born (August 13, 1961); Terrorist Carlos the Jackal was captured (August 14, 1994); Mary Winkler, who confessed to shooting her pastor husband was released on bail (August 15, 2006); John DeLorean was cleared of drug trafficking charges (August 16, 1984); Serial burglar and rapist, “The Fox” struck in Brampton, England (August 17, 1984); Old West outlaw Billy the Kid shoots and kills first victim (August 17, 1877)

Highlighted Crime of the Week -  

On August 14, 1994, terrorist Illich Ramirez Sanchez, known as Carlos the Jackal was captured in Khartoum, Sudan, by French intelligence agents. Since there was no extradition treaty with Sudan, the French agents sedated and kidnapped Carlos. The Sudanese government, claiming that it had assisted in the arrest, requested that the United States remove their country from its list of nations that sponsor terrorism. Sanchez, who was affiliated with the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Organization for Armed Arab Struggle, and the Japanese Red Army, was widely believed to be responsible for numerous terrorist attacks between 1973 and 1992. In 1974, he took the French ambassador and 10 others hostage at The Hague, demanding that French authorities release Yutaka Furuya of the Japanese Red Army. On June 27, 1975, French police officers tried to arrest Sanchez in a Paris apartment, but he killed two officers in an ensuing gun battle and escaped. In June 1992, Sanchez was tried in absentia for these murders and convicted. On December 21, 1975, Sanchez and a group of his men took 70 OPEC officials hostage at a Vienna conference. They made it to safety with somewhere between $25 million and $50 million in ransom money, but not before killing three hostages. Sanchez claimed responsibility for these crimes in an interview with the Arab magazine, Al Watan al Arabi. In the subsequent trial that resulted in his imprisonment, Sanchez was represented by Jacque Verges, who had reportedly helped to organize a failed rocket attack on a French nuclear power plant in 1982. Verges was also accused of sending a threatening letter from Sanchez to the French authorities so that Sanchez's girlfriend (possibly his wife), German terrorist Magdalena Kopp, could be released. He bitterly denied the charges.
 


 Michael Thomas Barry 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: www.michaelthomasbarry.com.    

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

Friday, August 8, 2014

Poet John Keats Finishes Walking Tour of Lake District (August 8, 1818)



On this date in English literary history – August 8, 1818, 22-year-old poet John Keats returns from a strenuous walking tour of the Lake Districts and Scotland. On this adventure, Keats began to show symptoms of the tuberculosis that will kill him within three years. Keats, the eldest of five children was born to a lower-middle-class family in London. He was a highly spirited boy known for fistfights and roughhousing at his private school. Keats' schoolmasters encouraged the boy's interest in reading and later introduced him to poetry and theater.
When John was eight, his father fell off a horse and died, launching a long economic struggle that would keep Keats in poverty throughout his life, despite a large inheritance owed to him. His mother quickly remarried and the five Keats children were sent to live with their maternal grandparents. The marriage failed and their mother soon joined them. However, she died in 1810, and John's grandparents died by 1814. The Keats children were kept from their money by an unscrupulous guardian, and John was apprenticed to a surgeon in 1811. Keats worked with the surgeon until 1814, then went to work for a hospital in London as a junior apothecary and surgeon in charge of dressing wounds.
In London, Keats pursued his interest in literature while working at the hospital. He became friends with Leigh Hunt, a successful poet and author who introduced him to other literary figures, including Percy Bysshe Shelley. Although Keats did not write his first poem until age 18, he quickly showed tremendous promise, encouraged by Hunt and his circle. Keats' first book, Poems, appeared in 1817. After that, Keats devoted himself entirely to poetry, becoming a master of the Romantic sonnet and trying his hand at epic poems like “Hyperion.”
In 1818, the same year Keats' health began to fail, his financial difficulties deepened as his brother Tom also battled tuberculosis and another brother's poor investment left him penniless. The one bright spot in his life was his fiancée, Fanny Brawne. From January to September 1819, Keats produced an outpouring of brilliant work, including poems like "Ode on a Grecian Urn," "Ode to a Nightingale," and "La Belle Dame Sans Merci." But in early 1820, Keats' tuberculosis worsened. Hoping a warm climate would ease his condition, he traveled to Italy, where he died in February 1821, at age 25.
 
Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous books that includes Literary Legends of the British Isles: The Lives and Burial Places of 50 Great Writers. The book was a finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and Readers Favorite International Book Awards. For more information visit the author’s website www.michaelthomasbarry.com. His book can be purchased from Powell's Books through the following link:

 

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Novelist Henry Fielding Travels to Portugal for Health Issues (August 7, 1754)



On this date in English literary history – August 7, 1754, English novelist Henry Fielding leaves London for Lisbon seeking a healthier climate. Fielding had suffered from ill health for some time, but his trip to Lisbon fails to ease his condition. He dies there two months later. Fielding dropped out of Eton at age 17 and started supporting himself as a successful playwright. He wrote more than two dozen plays, but his drama career ended when his satire Historical Register of the Year 1736 enraged the prime minister. In search of a new livelihood, Jones studied law and edited a newspaper for several years. Meanwhile, in 1740, Samuel Richardson's epistolary novel Pamela was published and became enormously popular. A spoof on the book, called Shamela (1741), was generally credited to Fielding, though he never admitted authorship. He did admit to writing Joseph Andrews, another satire, in 1742. In 1748, Fielding was appointed justice of the peace for Westminster and Middlesex. He played an important role in breaking up criminal gangs. He published one more novel, Amelia (1751), before his death in Lisbon, Portugal, in 1754. Fielding's most famous novel, Tom Jones, was printed in 1749. The novel told the humorous story of the attempts of the illegitimate but charming Tom Jones to win his neighbor's daughter. The novel boasted a vast cast of characters and provided a sweeping comic portrait of 18th-century England.

 


Michael Thomas Barry is the author of numerous award winning books that includes Literary Legends of the British Isles: The Lives and Burial Places of 50 Great Writers. The book was a finalist in the 2014 Next Generation Indie Book Awards and Readers Favorite International Book Awards. For more information about the author visit his website www.michaelthomasbarry.com. His book can be purchased from Amazon through the following link: