Author Bio: Homer

HOMER!!!

Statue of Homer outside the Bavarian State Library in Munich

Statue of Homer outside the Bavarian State Library in Munich


Here are (for what it’s worth) the stats:
Born: Unknown
Died: Unknown
Lived: 8th Century, Greece
Bust of Homer at the British Museum

Bust of Homer at the British Museum


The Iliad is by far the oldest piece of literature that we will read on this list. So, obviously, not much is known about the author. This epic poem is attributed to Homer. He supposedly lived in the 8th century in Greece around the time of the Trojan War. However, the actuality of his existence is debatable.
He is generally described as a teacher in ancient Greece who was well versed in the oral tradition of the times. Back in early Greece, oral storytelling was the preferred way of passing down historical and mythological tales from teacher to students. Teachers, like Homer, often popularized their versions of specific tales as their own teachings. Homer was known for his vast knowledge of the Trojan War and most of the epic poems and essays regarding the subject have been popularly attributed to him.
That’s pretty much all of the “information” that’s out there about the epic poet. So, here’s a picture of Homer from The Simpsons pretending to be Homer from Greek literature. Enjoy.

HO_Close_display
Complete list of works attributed to Homer (from Wikepedia):
The Iliad
The Odyssey
The Little Iliad*
The Nostoi*
The Cypria*
The Epigoni*
(*attributed to Homer in antiquity, but have since been held in suspicion)

Author Bio: Fyodor Dostoyevsky

dostoyevsky Fyodor Mikhailovich Dostoyevsky (1821-1881) was a Russian writer known for his novels, short stories, and essays focusing on “human psychology in the context of the troubled political, social, and spiritual atmosphere of 19th-century Russia.” He grew up new Moscow, in a family home on the grounds of Mariinsky Hospital for the Poor, where his father was a doctor. Dostoyevsky was steeped in literature starting at the age of three, when his beloved nanny began to read him fairy tales and heroic sagas. His mother taught him to read and write using the Bible when he was only four. After attending boarding school as a child he and his older brother were sent to a military institute, where they were expected to build military careers. Dostoyevsky’s mother died of tuberculosis when he was 15, and his father two years later. After graduating and leaving the academy he would start his literary career by translating a novel by Honoré de Balzac, which would give him the monetary independence to write his own novel.

Dostoyevsky published his first novel, Poor Folk, at the age of  25, to commercial success. In 1844 he resigned his post in the military – he believed it would hurt his literary career – and published his second book, The Double, two years later. He suffered from epilepsy, and after the poor reception of The Double, his health declined, although he continued to write. At this point he also became interested in socialism, and joined the socio-Christian Petrashevsky Circle. The Ministry of International Affairs accused Dostoyevsky and his fellow group memebers of reading and distributing anti-Russian literature and arrested them in 1849 at the request of Count A. Orlov and Emperor Nicolas I, who feared a revolution, and the men were exiled to Siberia. Dostoyevsky served eight years of exile with hard labour at a prison camp, followed by a term of compulsory military service. He was nearly executed while imprisoned, but was pardoned, and was eventually released from in 1854.

Dostoyevsky continued writing, and would eventually marry in 1867. He and his wife had two daughters, the eldest dying of pneumonia at only 3 months old, and a son, Fyodor. Despite his increasing health problems he wrote novels as well as essays for magazines and became increasingly popular. When he returned to Russia, Tsar Alexander II ordered Dostoyevsky to visit his palace to present the Diary [a piece he had long been working on] to him, and he asked him to educate his sons, Sergey and Paul. Dostoyevsky died of multiply pulmonary hemorrhages at the age of 59, and it is estimated that anywhere between 50,000 and 100,000 people attended his funeral.

Major Works Include:

the double

Interesting Fact: A film based on his book The Double is currently or soon coming to theaters, depending on where you live. Starring Jesse Eisenberg as the man and his doppleganger, it also features Mia Wasikowska, Sally Hawkins, Chris O’Dowd and Wallace Shawn. View more information on IMDb.

Author Bio: Herman Melville

HERMAN MELVILLE!!!

wikepedia.com

wikepedia.com

Here are the stats:

Born: August 1, 1819 in New York City, New York

Died: September 28, 1891 in New York City, New York

Family: Wife, Elizabeth Shaw, and four children (2 sons, 2 daughters)

Lived: Mostly in Massachusetts and New York City (when he was not as sea)

Last known photo of Melville (wikepedia.com)

Last known photo of Melville (wikepedia.com)

Herman Melville is one of the most well –known and respected authors of the American literature cannon. As mentioned in the last discussion, Moby Dick is one of those books that everyone had heard about but not many people have actually sat down to read. However, like many great artists, Herman Melville did not have great fame when his works were published. He did not gain notoriety until the 1920’s (more than a hundred years after his birth) in what is called the “Melville Revival.”

He was a rather sickly child and contracted scarlet fever which damaged his eyes. He had a fairly average childhood until his father’s business went under and he died when Melville was a boy. He went to sea for the first time in 1839 on the merchant ship St. Lawrence as a “green boy.” After that he became a teacher until he went to out to sea for a second time.

In 1841, he sailed to the South Pacific on the whaler Acushnet. He was later to comment that his life began on that trip. Not much is known about the details of this voyage, but it is believed that many of the details of Moby Dick came from his time on the Acushnet. Melville deserted the Acushnet in the Marquesas Islands in July 1842 where he stayed among the cannibal tribe Typee for three weeks.

From there he became known as “the man who lived among cannibals.” This reputation lead to the success of his early writings but the novelty of his later works had worn off on the general “book buying public.” Even Moby Dick was not hailed as a great success when it was originally published.

At the time of his death, his works were not very well received and he lived the rest of his days in relative obscurity as a lecturer happily with his family in New York. In fact, he was so unknown, that the New York Times famously printed his obituary as “Henry Melville.”

Herman Melville finger puppet available at philosophersguild.com

Herman Melville finger puppet available at philosophersguild.com

If you want to know more about Herman Melville go here or here!

Complete list of works (from Wikepedia):

Author Bio: Henry David Thoreau

Henry David Thoreau Henry David Thoreau ( 1817 – 1862) was an American transcendentalist who lived in Massachusetts, where he spent the majority of his adult life working in his father’s pencil factory. Known primarily for his works Walden and Civil Disobedience, Thoreau was a promoter of the simple life and a just government. He is often portrayed as an anarchist, although his push was less for the overthrowing of the government and more for an improved government. Thoreau’s political protests and abolitionist ways often got him into trouble, going so far as to once land him in jail overnight for refusing to pay poll taxes. He overtly opposed slavery and participated in the Underground Railroad as well as protesting the Mexican-American War. His piece Civil Disobedience is said to have influenced Mohandas Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr.

Thoreau famously spent two years in a small hut/cabin in the woods near Walden Pond, an experience he would then turn into the reflection on nature, life, and religion called Walden, or Life in the Woods. Throughout his life he would write about nature, philosophy, travel, and politics, all the while keeping a journal over the course of 24 years that would total over two million words.

Near Thoreau's cabin site at Walden Pond

Near Thoreau’s cabin site at Walden Pond

Henry David Thoreau passed away at the age of 44 after contracting tuberculosis, set off by a bout of bronchitis caused by being out late at night counting the rings of stumps in the rain (seems quite fitting, actually). His grave can now be found at the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord. You can learn more about Thoreau at walden.org.

Interesting Fact

His good friend Nathaniel Hawthorne would describe Thoreau as “… ugly as sin, long-nosed, queer-mouthed, and with uncouth and rustic, though courteous manners, corresponding very well with such an exterior. But his ugliness is of an honest and agreeable fashion, and becomes him much better than beauty.” Hipsters today should take note of his messy, tousled hair and neckbeard, which he wore for many years and insisted women found attractive. Louisa May Alcott, however, noted that his facial hair would “most assuredly deflect amorous advances and preserve the man’s virtue in perpetuity.”

Author Bio: William Shakespeare

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A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool.
William Shakespeare

Since Daria is in high school, she naturally reads a lot of Shakespeare for school assignments. We are all familiar with the general history of William Shakespeare  but here is a brief rundown of the basics:

Born: unknown, but Baptized April 26, 1564 in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England

Died:  April 23, 1616 at the age of 52 in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire, England

Occupation: playwright, poet, actor

Spouse: Anne Hathaway

Children:  Susanna Hall, Hamnet Shakespeare, Judith Quiney

Body of work: 16 comedies, 10 histories, 12 tragedies, 6 collections of poems and sonnets

Nickname: The Bard

There is probably more speculation than actual fact about his life. We do know that he was born to affluent parents and lived a very comfortable childhood. He was married at the age of 18 and had three children. One of whom, his only son, died at the age of 11.

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available at shoppbs.org

Most of his professional career was spent in London. It is unclear when he started writing but, well, we all know the affects 🙂 It is not known how many theatre companies he was involved with in the early days of his career but later in his career he was a part-owner of Lord Chamberlain’s Men (aka The King’s Men) and wrote and performed many of his later plays at the now famous Globe Theatre.

He died at his home in Stratford-upon-Avon and was survived by his wife and two daughters.

If you want more info on The Bard, you can find it here and more of the Globe Theatre here.

William Shakespeare's grave, Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-on-Avon, England

William Shakespeare’s grave, Holy Trinity Church, Stratford-on-Avon, England

Author Bio: D.H. Lawrence

D.H. LawrenceDavid Herbert Lawrence (1885 – 1930) was an English poet and novelist whose works reflected upon the effects of modernization and industrialization on society. His strong opinions and views led to censorship of much of his work as well as misrepresentation of his character (at the end of his life, the public viewed him as a pornographer, as opposed to the renowned writer we view him as today). He grew up the son of working-class parents in a coal mining town in Nottinghamshire, England and had an extremely close relationship with his mother, who died of cancer in 1910. This relationship would strongly influence his novel Sons and Lovers, which was written during her illness. Lawrence received a teaching degree and taught before becoming a full-time writer. He would go on to elope with a married woman, be arrested under accusation of being a spy, escape England for a period of voluntary exile, and was possibly homosexual, according to his wife. Read more about Lawrence in this extensive Wikipedia entry and at dh-lawrence.org.

Over the course of his live Lawrence would write 13 novels, 10 collections of short stories, nearly a dozen poetry collections, 8 plays, and numerous pamphlets, essays, and travel books. He was also a painter – his work was explicit, to the point of being seized by police at a 1929 exhibition for being indecent.

Interesting Fact

Lawrence’s controversial novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover (1928) was republished uncensored in Britain in 1960, leading to a court case against publisher Penguin Books under the Obscene Publications Act. Prosecution objected to Lawrence’s use of sexually explicit language but witnesses – including critics and authors such as E. M. Forester – were able to prove that the work had literary merit, eventually leading to a verdict of “Not Guilty.”