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The Writer’s Almanac for Sunday, July 14, 2024

The Writer’s Almanac for Sunday, July 14, 2024

Today is the birthday of Swedish director and writer Ingmar Bergman, born in Uppsala (1918). He studied theater in college, and made his way into the film business in 1941, rewriting screenplays. Over the next decade, he wrote and directed more than a dozen movies.

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The Writer’s Almanac for Saturday, July 13, 2024

The Writer’s Almanac for Saturday, July 13, 2024

It’s the birthday of the poet John Clare, born in Nottinghamshire, England (1793). He may be the poorest person ever to become a major writer in English literature. His father was a peasant farmer. The family often had to live off the proceeds from a single apple tree in their yard. John Clare went to the village school between the ages of five and 11. He learned to read and write and decided he wanted to write poetry.

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The Writer’s Almanac for Friday, July 12, 2024

The Writer’s Almanac for Friday, July 12, 2024

It’s the birthday of the man who said: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” That’s Henry David Thoreau, born David Henry Thoreau in Concord, Massachusetts (1817).

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The Writer’s Almanac for Thursday, July 11, 2024

The Writer’s Almanac for Thursday, July 11, 2024

It’s the birthday of the artist best known for a painting of his mother: James Abbott McNeill Whistler, born in Lowell, Massachusetts (1834). His most famous painting was titled Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 (1871), but it’s more commonly known as “Whistler’s Mother.” It’s a portrait of Anna Matilda McNeill Whistler in a black dress, seated in profile against a gray wall. When Whistler’s scheduled model didn’t show up for a sitting, he decided to paint his mother instead.

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The Writer’s Almanac for Wednesday, July 10, 2024

The Writer’s Almanac for Wednesday, July 10, 2024

It’s the birthday of the short-story writer Alice Munro, born in Wingham, Ontario (1931). She grew up on a farm, and she said, “Reading was an indulgence that you didn’t go in for if there was physical work to be done.” Women were only supposed to read on Sundays, because on every other day of the week they had no excuse to be reading when they could be knitting instead.

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The Writer’s Almanac for Tuesday, July 9, 2024

The Writer’s Almanac for Tuesday, July 9, 2024

It’s the birthday of the “Queen of Romance,” a woman who wrote more than 700 books: Barbara Cartland, born in Birmingham, England (1901). She started working as a gossip columnist, became a society belle, and then started publishing romance novels. She always wore pink dresses, and she even launched a home decorating line, complete with pink, frilly home items.

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The Writer’s Almanac for Monday, July 8, 2024

The Writer’s Almanac for Monday, July 8, 2024

It was on this day in 1918 that Ernest Hemingway was wounded while serving as a Red Cross ambulance driver in World War I. The following January, Hemingway traveled back to his parents’ home, still recuperating from his injury. He walked around with a cane, read everything he could get his hands on, and taught his sisters Italian swear words. He was a small-town war hero and often spoke at schools and social clubs about his experience in the war. He always passed around his bloodstained, shrapnel-torn trousers.

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The Writer’s Almanac for Sunday, July 7, 2024

The Writer’s Almanac for Sunday, July 7, 2024

It’s the birthday of the popular historian David McCullough, born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania (1933). His first big book was Truman (1992), one of the best-selling biographies ever published. The sales were even greater for his biography John Adams, in 2001. Both books won the Pulitzer Prize.

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The Writer’s Almanac for Saturday, July 6, 2024

The Writer’s Almanac for Saturday, July 6, 2024

It was on this day in 1535 that Sir Thomas More was beheaded in the Tower of London for refusing to recognize his longtime friend King Henry VIII as the head of the Church. Thomas More was a barrister, a scholar, and a writer. He was the author of Utopia (1516), a controversial novel about an imaginary island, where society was based on equality for all people. It is from this novel that we get our word “utopia.”

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The Writer’s Almanac for Friday, July 5, 2024

The Writer’s Almanac for Friday, July 5, 2024

Today is the birthday of American artist Chuck Close, born in Monroe, Washington (1940). He had a rough childhood: He was dyslexic and didn’t do well in school; his father died when Chuck was 11, and his mother developed breast cancer soon after. Their medical bills were so high that the family lost their house, and Close was bedridden for almost a year due to a serious kidney infection. He got through by drawing and painting, and took his first trip to the Seattle Art Museum soon after his father died.

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