Did You Know . . . ?

In chapter II of Arthur Conan Doyle’s A Study in Scarlet, Dr. Watson mentions Edgar Allan Poe’s creation, the French detective C. Auguste Dupin to his friend Sherlock Holmes. As you will note below, Holmes was not impressed.

“It is simple enough as you explain it,” I said, smiling. “You remind me of Edgar Allan Poe’s Dupin. I had no idea that such individuals did exist outside of stories.”

Sherlock Holmes rose and lit his pipe. “No doubt you think that you are complimenting me in comparing me to Dupin,” he observed. “Now, in my opinion, Dupin was a very inferior fellow. That trick of his of breaking in on his friends’ thoughts with an apropos remark after a quarter of an hour’s silence is really very showy and superficial. He had some analytical genius, no doubt; but he was by no means such a phenomenon as Poe appeared to imagine.”

In fact Doyle had great respect for Poe: “Where was the detective story until Poe breathed the breath of life into it?” Of course, Holmes could not be expected to praise anyone who had knowledge, methods, and instincts similar to his own.

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Elsewhere in literature Arsène Lupin the gentleman thief and detective created by French writer Maurice Leblanc, met the aged Sherlock Holmes in a number of stories beginning with “Sherlock Holmes Arrives Too Late” in 1906. However, when Arthur Conan Doyle found out about the use of his character without permission he protested, so Leblanc changed Holmes’ name to Herlock Sholmes. Holmes also appears in Leblanc’s short stories “The Blonde Lady,” and “The Hollow Needle.”

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Novelist Anne Bernays is the daughter of Edward Bernays who is known as “the father of public relations.” Edward’s double uncle was Sigmund Freud. “Double” because Edward’s father, Ely, married Freud’s sister, Anna, and Freud married Ely’s sister Martha.

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If you were taught in school that most people at the time of Christopher Columbus’ first voyage believed that the world was flat, you can thank the American author Washington Irving – that’s right, the author of “Rip Van Winkle,” and “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” – for inventing that myth. As he wrote a biography of Columbus, which was published in 1828, he found the facts a bit boring, so he added things here and there that made Columbus seem heroic, and the people around him seem ignorant.

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Author Jhumpa Lahiri, the daughter of Indian immigrants, was born in Great Britain, and is now an American citizen. In 2012 she moved to Italy and now speaks and writes in Italian – only Italian. Her works are translated into English by Ann Goldstein. In an article in the December 7, 2015 issue of The New Yorker, Lahiri writes about the course she took that ultimately lead her to move to Italy. Like her other works, the article was written in Italian and translated into English by Ann Goldstein.

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Many authors had “day jobs” before they became authors, and some had those jobs even as they wrote. Some notable authors and their “day jobs” are listed below:

  •  Bram Stoker – theater manager
  • John Grisham – attorney
  • Stephen King – teacher
  • JK Rowling – teacher
  • George R. R. Martin – teacher
  • Herman Melville – customs inspector
  • Nicholas Sparks – pharmaceutical salesman
  • Arthur Conan Doyle – physician
  • Jack London – oyster pirate
  • Haruki Murakami – coffeehouse owner
  • J. M. Coetzee – university professor
  • Joseph Conrad – merchant seaman
  • Fyodor Dostoyevsky – engineer
  • William S. Burroughs – exterminator
  • John Galsworthy – barrister
  • James Joyce – cinema operator
  • Franz Kafka – legal clerk
  • Harper Lee – airline ticket agent
  • Kurt Vonnegut – car dealer

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In 1886 Arthur Hinds opened a bookstore in New York City. In 1894 Gilbert Clifford Noble (a graduate of Harvard) went to work in the store as a clerk, and became a partner eight years later. The store was renamed Hinds & Noble. In 1917 Noble bought out Hinds, and became a partner with William Barnes. That’s how Barnes & Noble, the only truly nationwide bookstore chain still existing in the U. S., got its name.

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