Geoffrey Chaucer, the father of English Poets.

Portrait of Chaucer from the William Caxton printing of the Canterbury Tales.
Geoffrey Chaucer was born in London in the early 1340s.
His father, John, was a wealthy wine-merchant who held a minor position at court.
In 1385 Chaucer moved to Kent, which he represented as a Member of Parliament for three years.
Although he fought as a soldier in France for Edward III and earned his living as a loyal and civil servant, it is as a writer that Chaucer is known today. Indeed he is often referred to as “the father of English poetry”.
Geoffrey Chaucer is buried in “Poets’ Corner” in Westminster Abbey, London.

Source: Caxton’s Chaucer – The Basics

Mervyn Peake’s “Gormenghast”novels.

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The cast of the BBC Mini Series Gormenghast (2000).
Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast novels are cult classics of 20th Century English literature. Writer and philosopher John Gray considers what they tell us about the nature of the modern world.
“With every pace he drew away from Gormenghast Mountain, and from everything that belonged to his home.”
These are the closing words of Titus Alone, the last of three novels recounting the childhood and rebellion of Titus Groan, the 77th Earl of Gormenghast, an enormous, crumbling castle that stands isolated and self-enclosed somewhere on the margins of the world.
Governed more by ritual than by the hereditary rulers who have immemorially reigned over it, the castle confines Titus in a life of empty ceremony. At the age of 17, having fought a life-and-death struggle with an enemy he held accountable for the death of his father and sister, Titus rides out of the castle to look for another way of living.
Entering a world in many ways not unlike our own, he begins to doubt whether the castle ever existed.
He travels back to Gormenghast Mountain where he hears a gun boom seven times – the dawn salvo sounding for him. Yet he doesn’t return to the castle or even look at it, but instead turns on his heel and walks away, never to see his home again.
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Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast novels – Titus Groan, Gormenghast and Titus Alone – have been read in many ways. For some of their readers, they re-state the essential message of romanticism – the assertion of the individual against conventional restraints.
For others, the novels are a coming-of-age story – the story of how Titus ceases to be a child and becomes a man.
Yet others interpret them as belonging to a tradition that includes Tolkien – the author of Lord of the Rings – and some later writers of science fiction.
via BBC News – A Point Of View: Leaving Gormenghast.

Men who were the Inspiration for Sherlock Holmes.

tumblr_m6sdwxsAnb1qkgkowo1_500The inspiration for the character of Sherlock Holmes.
Doyle said that the character of Sherlock Holmes was inspired by Dr. Joseph Bell, a surgeon at the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh for whom Doyle had worked as a clerk.
Like Holmes, Bell was noted for drawing large conclusions from the smallest observations.
However, some years later Bell wrote in a letter to Conan Doyle: “You (meaning Conan Doyle) are yourself Sherlock Holmes and well you know it.”
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Sir Henry Littlejohn, Chair of Medical Jurisprudence at the University of Edinburgh Medical School, is also cited as an inspiration for Holmes. Littlejohn served as Police Surgeon and Medical Officer of Health of Edinburgh, providing for Doyle a link between medical investigation and the detection of crime.
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via Sherlock Holmes.

16 to 24 year olds prefer Printed books.

Woman-reading-bookSixteen to 24-year-olds are known as the super-connected generation, obsessed with snapping selfies or downloading the latest mobile apps, so it comes as a surprise to learn that 62% prefer printed books to ebooks.
Asked about preferences for physical products versus digital content, printed books jump out as the media most desired in material form, ahead of movies (48%), newspapers and magazines (47%), CDs (32%), and video games (31%).
“It is surprising because we think of 16-24s as being attached to their smartphones and digital devices, so it does shout out,” said Luke Mitchell of agency Voxburner, which researched questions about buying and using content with 1,420 young adults.
The two big reasons for preferring print are value for money and an emotional connection to physical books. On questions of ebook pricing, 28% think that ebooks should be half their current price, while just 8% say that ebook pricing is right.
The top-rated reasons for preferring physical to digital products were: “I like to hold the product” (51%), “I am not restricted to a particular device” (20%), “I can easily share it” (10%), “I like the packaging” (9%), and “I can sell it when used” (6%).
Mitchell said that qualitative comments about preferring physical books included things like “I collect”, “I like the smell”, and “I want full bookshelves”. “Books are status symbols, you can’t really see what someone has read on their Kindle,” Mitchell said.
Voxburner questioned 16-24 year olds online between 25 September and 18 October.
Half of the respondents were sourced through student moneysaving website Studentbeans.com, and half through a broader youth research panel.
via Young adult readers ‘prefer printed to ebooks’ | Books | theguardian.com.

The Strange Death of Edgar Allan Poe.

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It was raining in Baltimore on October 3, 1849, but that didn’t stop Joseph W. Walker, a compositor for the Baltimore Sun, from heading out to Gunner’s Hall, a public house bustling with activity.
It was Election Day, and Gunner’s Hall served as a pop-up polling location for the 4th Ward polls. When Walker arrived at Gunner’s Hall, he found a man, delirious and dressed in shabby second-hand clothes, lying in the gutter.
The man was semi-conscious, and unable to move, but as Walker approached the him, he discovered something unexpected: the man was Edgar Allan Poe.
Worried about the health of the addled poet, Walker stopped and asked Poe if he had any acquaintances in Baltimore that might be able to help him.
Poe gave Walker the name of Joseph E. Snodgrass, a magazine editor with some medical training.
Immediately, Walker penned Snodgrass a letter asking for help.
Baltimore City, Oct. 3, 1849
Dear Sir,
There is a gentleman, rather the worse for wear, at Ryan’s 4th ward polls, who goes under the cognomen of Edgar A. Poe, and who appears in great distress, & he says he is acquainted with you, he is in need of immediate assistance.
Yours, in haste,
JOS. WALKER
On September 27—almost a week earlier—Poe had left Richmond, Virginia bound for Philadelphia to edit a collection of poems for Mrs. St. Leon Loud, a minor figure in American poetry at the time.
When Walker found Poe in delirious disarray outside of the polling place, it was the first anyone had heard or seen of the poet since his departure from Richmond. Poe never made it to Philadelphia to attend to his editing business.
Nor did he ever make it back to New York, where he had been living, to escort his aunt back to Richmond for his impending wedding.
Poe was never to leave Baltimore, where he launched his career in the early 19th- century, again—and in the four days between Walker finding Poe outside the public house and Poe’s death on October 7, he never regained enough consciousness to explain how he had come to be found, in soiled clothes not his own, incoherent on the streets.
Instead, Poe spent his final days wavering between fits of delirium, gripped by visual hallucinations. The night before his death, according to his attending physician Dr. John J. Moran, Poe repeatedly called out for “Reynolds”—a figure who, to this day, remains a mystery.
Read on via The (Still) Mysterious Death of Edgar Allan Poe | History | Smithsonian.

Hortus Malabaricus.

7561711638_9ba0b61be9_oSelected illustrations from the stunning Hortus Malabaricus (Garden of Malabar), an epic treatise dealing with the medicinal properties of the flora in the Indian state of Kerala.
Originally written in Latin, it was compiled over a period of nearly 30 years and published in Amsterdam between 1678 and 1693 in 12 volumes of about 500 pages each, with a total of 794 copper plate engravings.
The book was conceived by Hendrik van Rheede, who was the Governor of Dutch Malabar at the time, and he is said to have taken a keen personal interest in the compilation.
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The work was edited by a team of nearly a hundred including physicians (such as Ranga Bhat, Vinayaka Pandit, Appu Bhat and Itti Achuden) professors of medicine and botany, amateur botanists (such as Arnold Seyn, Theodore Jansson of Almeloveen, Paul Hermann, Johannes Munnicks, Joannes Commelinus, Abraham a Poot), and technicians, illustrators and engravers, together with the collaboration of company officials, clergymen (D. John Caesarius and the Discalced Carmelite Mathaeus of St. Joseph’s Monastery at Varapuzha).
7561714328_67b7db25d8_oVan Rheede was also assisted by the King of Cochin and the ruling Zamorin of Calicut.
Prominent among the Indian contributors were three Gouda Saraswat Brahmins named Ranga Bhat, Vinayaka Pandit,Appu Bhat and Malayali physician, Itti Achuden, who was an Ezhava doctor of the Mouton Coast of Malabar.
The book has been translated into English and Malayalam by Dr. K. S. Manilal. (Wikipedia).
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Click for more Images via Hortus Malabaricus (1678-1693) | The Public Domain Review.