Thursday, October 16, 2008

Literary Giants Born Today

Not a lot of blog time this morning but couldn’t let October 16th pass. If you were born today, you share your birthday with some great literary talent, too much so to ignore as coincidence, right?

Happy Birthday to playwright Eugene O’Neill, born this date in 1888. O’Neill, who spent much of his life plagued by depression and alcoholism, won the 1936 Nobel Prize for Literature and a number of Pulizers for popular works such as Beyond the Horizon, Anna Christie, and Strange Interlude. Some of his plays were made into films The Iceman Cometh, Mourning Becomes Electra, and Desire Under the Elms to name a few. Sadly, O’Neill disowned his daughter Oona for marrying comic film star Charlie Chaplin, and both of his sons committed suicide as a result of various addictions they suffered. O’Neill’s spirit is said to inhabit a dorm room at Boston University, the former Sheraton hotel room where he died in 1953.

Irish poet and playwright Oscar Wilde would have been 154 today. The author of The Picture of Dorian Gray was born in Dublin, but left Ireland permanently when his then love interest became engaged to writer Bram Stoker (of Dracula fame). He later lived in London, Paris and U.S., and spent years in prison over issues arising from his many homosexual and bisexual relationships. Also famous for the play, The Importance of Being Earnest. Like O’Neill, Wilde’s Dorian Gray, his only novel, has been brought to the big screen more than once. Wilde succumbed to cerebral meningitis in 1900.

Called the "Father of American Scholarship and Education", Noah Webster also shares this popular birthdate. The title is well-deserved; who hasn’t referred to a Webster dictionary in their lifetime?

While she is not known as an author herself, she plays one on TV: Angela Lansbury, sometimes better known as Jessica Fletcher from “Murder, She Wrote”, turns 83 today. Ms. Lansbury deserves a whole blog page onto herself, and will get one in the near future.

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