Tidbit Histories – The Legend of Sleepy Hollow – Fact or Fiction? by Bob Topp

When Washington Irving was a teenager, he wandered from one small Catskill town to another talking to everyone he met and writing down every strange tale he heard – all the while writing down accurate descriptions of towns, forests and riverbanks. Later, when he began writing short stories, his descriptions were so vivid that they made his fiction read like history, especially since he would make up imaginary scholars and professors that would attest to their truth.

One of his earliest stories, which would also prove one of his most famous and enduring, was based, in part, on an Old Dutch legend but was intermingled with images from the American Revolution. The American colonists held a special loathing and fear of Hessian mercenaries hired by the British and came to think of them as monsters in human form – Horsemen, perhaps, with no heads.

Creating characters that were composites of real Catskill people, adding his characteristic humor and humanity, and creating a landscape so believable that it leant his stories authenticity, Washington Irving, stepped into literary history with a story about a sequestered glen named Sleepy Hollow – “A drowsy, dreamy influence seems to hang over the land…”

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” first appeared in THE SKETCH BOOK OF GEOFFREY CRAYON, GENT. alongside “Rip Van Winkle” in 1819 and quickly became America’s favorite ghost story. Reprinted and retold countless times, THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW would be a contender for most illustrated book of all times and entertains both young and old just as much today as the day it was written.Legend7

Permanent link to this article: https://hermitagebooks.com/blog/?p=274

Tidbit Histories – Jack Kerouac Apologizes!

When Tom Guinzburg, son of famed Viking editor Harold Guinzburg, was nine years old, his father let him read a manuscript from an author that began: “Once upon a time in Spain there was little bull and his name was Ferdinand.” Young Tom loved the story and wanted to read it again.

Four million copies down the road, Tom recalled that the experience of reading FERDINAND THE BULL made him feel like he might be suited to his father’s profession.

How right he was. Some years later when he first started working for his dad in the publicity department, Malcolm Cowley, one of the legendary 20th century editors, took Tom aside and said, “I’ve got this manuscript, and I can’t convince your old man, but maybe you’ll like it.”

Tom did like it and in 1957 Viking published ON THE ROAD by Jack Kerouac. Shortly after publication, Tom found a $20 bill along with a note from Kerouac apologizing, “…for last night. I acted like a horse’s ass. I don’t remember how you got me home.”

Kerouac had gone on the Steve Allen show blind drunk and had to be pulled off the stage. On The Road2

Permanent link to this article: https://hermitagebooks.com/blog/?p=270

Tidbit Histories – Gerry, Patron Saint of Librarians and Translators.

In the mid 4th century a child was born on the northern Roman frontier to a wealthy Christian family. In addition to his Christian upbringing, he was thoroughly schooled in a traditional Roman classical education. He was particularly enamored of Cicero, but was concerned whether it was possible to be a good Christian while admiring the intellectual achievements of the pagans.

Legend holds that in his late 20s, he had a dream in which Christ appeared and asked him, “Who are you?” He answered simply that he was a Christian, to which Christ replied; “You lie! You are a Ciceronian, not a Christian!”

This dream led the young man to rededicate himself to his religious studies. Using the linguistic skills he had acquired in his classical education, he learned Hebrew and Greek and translated both the Old and New Testaments into Latin. His Latin translation became known as The Vulgate bible and was the standard text used throughout Europe during the Middle Ages, thus becoming the basis for the modern Bible.

After St. Augustine, Jerome was the most prolific writer in ancient Latin Christianity. He is recognized as a saint by the Catholic Church, The Eastern Orthodox Church, the Luthern Church and the Church of England, and today watches gently over us book people as the patron saint of librarians and translaters.St. Jerome4



Permanent link to this article: https://hermitagebooks.com/blog/?p=265

Tidbit Histories – Dickens Writes Christmas Carol in Eight Weeks!

In London, in the 1820’s, a chimney sweep and a shoemaker founded a volunteer institution to give free instruction to poor children. After a visit to one of these so called “Ragged Schools”, Charles Dickens wrote, “I have very seldom seen in London and elsewhere, anything so shocking as the dire neglect of soul and body exhibited among these children.”

But from that visit also came inspiration and in October of 1843, Dickens threw himself with uncharacteristic fury into writing a new book. By late November, in less than eight weeks, Charles Dickens brought to life some of the most memorable characters in English literature: Ebenezer Scrooge, Bob Cratchit, Tiny Tim and the Ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.

A CHRISTMAS CAROL was published ten days before Christmas, 1843 and sold 6000 copies the first day.

Christmas Carol3

Permanent link to this article: https://hermitagebooks.com/blog/?p=261

Tidbit Histories – Mark Twain Writes a Book

In 1849, young Samuel Clemens was working as a miner at Angel’s Camp, near San Fransicso, when he first heard the tale of a jumping frog contest. Brief versions of the tale would appear in the Sonora Herald in 1853 and San Andreas Independent in 1853. But it would be 18 years before, at the suggestion of author Artemus Ward, Clemens put pen to paper and write his own version.

This slim volume was originally intended to be added to another book already in production, but the publisher decided the expense would be too great, so presented the story to Henry Clapp, the owner of the failing journal, The  Saturday Press. Under the title, “Jim Smiley and His Frog”, Clemens’ story appeared in the very last issue.

Clemens later related these events to publisher Charles Henry Webb, who felt the story had merit and decided to publish Clemens’ story along with some of his earlier writings for The Territorial Enterprise and other California newspapers. Under the pseudonym John Paul, Webb compiled, edited and produced “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Sketches.”

Published in 1867, Twain’s first book was an immediate success. It was reprinted several times that year and heralded Mark Twain’s evolution from newspaperman to literary lion.Celebrated4

Permanent link to this article: https://hermitagebooks.com/blog/?p=253

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