Literary Birthdays – Week of March 15 – 21

Sunday March 8
Abbé Nicolas Louis de Lacaille (b. 1713) – French astronomer who catalogued stars and calculated eclipses – Coelum australe stelliferum (1763)

Madelyn Pugh (b. 1921) – U.S. television writer - I Love Lucy series

Will.i.am (b. 1975) – Jamaican-American songwriter/producer – “It’s a New Day”

See Will.I.am perform It’s a New Day on YouTube:

Monday March 16

James Madison

James Madison (b. 1751) U.S. President, contributing author to the U.S. Constitution – The Federalist Papers (with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay)


Tuesday March 17

Nat King Cole

Nat King Cole (b. 1919) – U.S . singer/s ongwriter – “Straighten Up and Fly Right” (1943)

Straighten Up and Fly Right
(words and music by Nat King Cole
and Irving Mills)

The buzzard took the monkey for a ride in the air
The monkey thought that everything was on the square
The buzzard tried to throw the monkey off his back
The monkey grabbed his neck and said “now listen, jack”

“Straighten up and fly right”
“straighten up and fly right”
“straighten up and fly right”
“cool down, papa, don’t you blow your top.”

“ain’t no use in jivin’ “
“what’s the use in divin’ “
“straighten up and fly right”
“cool down, papa, don’t you blow your top.”

The buzzard told the monkey “you’re chokin’ me”
“release your hold and i’ll set you free”
The monkey looked the buzzard right dead in the eye and said
“your story’s fetchin’ but it sounds like a lie”

Straighten up and fly right
Straighten up and do right
Straighten up and fly right
Cool down, papa, don’t you blow your top.

Watch Joe Bourne sing “Straighten Up and Fly Right” at the 2007 Jazz Festival:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpESsfOlXDs

Listen to this BBC radio documentary about the music of Nat King Cole, aired March 13, 2009:

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00j2jty

Listen to Natalie Cole (Nat King Cole’s daughter) perform Straighten Up and Fly Right in this Will.I.Am produced version:

http://emicat.edgeboss.net/wmedia/emicat/nkc/audio/natkingcole_002_straighten-up-fly-right_100.wax


Wednesday March 18

John Updike (b. 1932) – U.S. novelist, short story writer – Rabbit, Run

See this in-depth CSpan interview of John Updike (Length is 90 minutes!):


Thursday March 19
Earl Warren (b. 1891) – U.S. Supreme Court Justice – U.S. Supreme Court opinions, including Brown v Board of Education (1954)
Excerpt from Brown v Board of Education 347 U.S. 483, 74 S.Ct. 686, 98 L.Ed. 873
We come then to the question presented: Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other ‘tangible’ factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does.
* * *
We conclude that in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal. Therefore, we hold that the plaintiffs and others similarly situated for whom the actions have been brought are, by reason of the segregation complained of, deprived of the equal protection of the laws guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment. This disposition makes unnecessary any discussion whether such segregation also violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

Philip Roth (b. 1933) – U.S. novelist – Portnoy’s Complaint

Watch this 2004 interview of Philip Roth, where he says “I don’t think about the reader, I think about the book.”


Friday March 20

Lucy Myers Wright Mitchell (b. 1845) – U.S. classical historian/archaeologist – A History of Ancient Sculpture (1883)

Excerpt from page 169 of A History of Ancient Sculpture

The oldest images of the gods were believed by the Greeks to have been of wood. Often, according to oldest tradition, they fell directly from heaven to mortals, or traced their origin to mythic heroes, like Danaos and Orestes. Ancient travellers describe them as sometimes seated, sometimes standing with legs stiffly united, arms clinging to the sides, eyes tightly closed, and as carrying attributes. Such idols were looked upon as shrines in which the deity took up his abode; and the story was, that they sometimes chained down the image, lest the god take flight.

A greater degree of life seems to have been given these idols by a covering of paste and glaring color: thus we learn, that Dionysos and Pan were painted red, and Athena white. Many services described by ancient writers, as well as noticed in inscriptions, show that these images were the objects of a complicated ritual: they were washed, clothed in gay apparel, and decorated with crowns, diadems, necklaces, and ear-pendants. Often, in later times, a magnificent wardrobe formed a part of the temple treasure. On the occurrence of the Panathenaic festival at Athens, the old Athena was clad anew in z.pcplos woven by Athenian women; and at Elis the same ceremony was performed for the ancient image of Hera.246


Saturday March 21

Phyllis McGinley (b. 1905) – U.S. poet, children’s book writer – The Horse That Lived Upstairs

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researching author birthdays and selling used books online at dempseybooks.com (bonanza.com/dempseybooks)
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