A journey through the world of books

The following text is originally lifted from the trivia section of The Jakarta Post.

~Compiled from various sources~

  • Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was banned in China after censors decided that animals should not use human language.
  • In chapter 3 of Jonathan Swift's book Gulliver's Travels (A Voyage to Laputa) a passage reads: "They have likewise discovered two lesser stars, or satellites, which revolve about Mars, whereof the innermost is distant from the centre of the primary planet exactly 3 of his diameters, and the outermost 5". There is nothing unusual in that except Gulliver's Travels was published in 1726 and Mars' two moons were first discovered by U.S. astronomer Asaph Hall in 1877.
  • The first novel ever written on a typewriter was Tom Sawyer.
  • When Mark Twain was born on 30 Nov 1835, Halley's Comet was visible in the sky over Florida, Missouri. It did not pass very near to the earth that year, but its presence was enough to create a legend. Aware throughout his life that he was born when Halley's Comet was visible, Mark Twain predicted in 1909 that he would die when it returned: "I came in with Halley's Comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it... The Almighty has said, no doubt: 'Now here are these two unaccountable freaks, they came in together, they must go out together'". He was right. When Mark Twain died on 21 April 1910, Halley's Comet was once again visible in the sky.
  • Mark Twain smoked 40 cigars a day for the last years of his life.
  • Cinderella's slippers were originally made of fur. The story was changed in the 1600s by a translator.
  • It was the left shoe that Cinderella lost at the stairway, when the prince tried to follow her. It was originally the right, but the translator mixed them up.
  • Emily Dickinson wrote more than 900 poems, of which only four were published during her lifetime.
  • English writer Rudyard Kipling invented snow golf while living in Vermont. He painted his golf balls red so he could find them.
  • Noah Webster was referred to as "the walking question mark" during his student days at Yale.
  • Noah Webster mortgaged his house to finance the second edition of his dictionary.
  • Ernest Hemingway revised the last page of A Farewell to Arms 39 times.
  • Francis Scott Fitzgerald spent four years at Princeton, but left before graduating to join the U.S. Army during World War 1. His first novel, This Side of Paradise (1920), was autobiographical and made him rich (although only temporarily) and famous.
  • Kate "God Bless America" Smith sold more U.S. war bonds than anyone else during World War 2. She sold US$600 million worth.
  • It was writer Rudyard Kipling who said, "I always prefer to believe the best of everybody; it saves so much trouble."
  • Louisa May Alcott reportedly did not want to write her classic novel, Little Women. She despised young girls and wrote the bestseller for the money.
  • Virginia Woolf reportedly wrote her books while standing.
  • Renowned British poet Lord Byron had four pet geese that he took everywhere with him, even to social gatherings. Byron, though considered one of the most dashing and attractive men of his time, was overweight and had a club foot.
  • Robert Browning used Chanti to wean and cure his wife, renowned British poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning, from her addiction to laudanum.
  • Robert Louis Stevenson said he had envisioned the entire story Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde in a dream and simply recorded it the way he saw it. Stevenson claimed to be able to dream plots for his stories at will.
  • The original story from Tales of 1001 Arabian Nights begins: "Aladdin was a little Chinese boy."
  • The name Wendy was made up for the book Peter Pan.

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