Sunday, 3 October 2010

More Literary Trivia

After his avowed enemy Randolph Churchill went into hospital to have a benign tumur removed, Evelyn Waugh said 'What a typical triumph of modern science to find the only part of Randolph that was not malignant and remove it'.

Sir Walter Scott and Percy Bysshe Shelley used five other pseudonyms. Thackeray used 11 and Jonathan Swift fifteen. Georges Simenon used 23 and John Creasey a massive 25. But way out in front with 325 was the Russian comedian (born 1868) Konstantin Arsenivich Mikhailov.

The largest ever British publication was the 1,112 volume British Parliamentary Papers published by the Irish University Press . The full set weighs over three tons. Its production involved £15,00 of gold ingots and the skins of 34,000 Indian goats.

When Noel Coward was told that an intellectually challenged actor had blown his brains out, he said 'He must have been an incredibly good shot'.

Timothy Dexter wrote a book in 1802 called 'A Pickle for the Knowing Ones'. It had no punctuation at all. In 1838 he added a page with various grammatical appendages - colons, semi-colons, commas, exclamation marks, etc. He suggested that these were for readers to scatter throughout the text wherever they wished.

The phrase 'Right on' appears in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar (Act 3 scene 2).

Honoré de Balzac wrote 'Le Père Goriot' (one of my favourite books) in forty days to pay off his debts. He kept himself going with endless cups of black coffee and worked around the clock.

When a woman she didn't like said 'I can't bear fools', Dorothy Parker responded 'Apparently your mother didn't have the same difficulty'.

Denise Robins once told Barbara Cartland she had written eighty-seven books. 'That's nothing,' Cartland replied, 'I've written 145'. 'I see,' said Robins, 'one a year!'.

The original title proposed for 'Pride and Prejudice' was 'First Impressions' while 'War and Peace' was to have been 'All's well that ends well'. 'Of Mce and Men' would have been 'Something that happened' and the proposed title for 'Gone with the Wind' was 'Ba Ba Black Sheep'.

Charlotte Bronte published her first book of poetry privately - it sold a massive two copies!

Oliver St John Gogarty was once involved in a law suit with a fellow senator. When asked if he thought it would come to a battle of wits, he responded 'No, I wold never fight an unarmed man'.


  1. I like the Denise Robins one! And all those pseudonyms... in some cases, I can see the point, but mostly not. Certainly not when it comes to over 300!!!

  2. What fun! But I feel bad for the Indian goats.

  3. I didn't know that 'Le Père Goriot' was one of your favourite books. At one time (years ago) it topped my list too but I never really managed to come to terms with any of his other books (which I went back to after my Russian novelist phase).


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