Born OTD in 1907, English author & playwright, Daphne du Maurier. Jaded by the numbing politeness of Restoration London, Lady Dona St. Columb revolts against high society. She rides into the countryside, guided only by her restlessness & her longing to escape. But when chance leads her to meet a French pirate, hidden within Cornwall’s shadowy forests, Dona discovers that her passions and thirst for adventure have never been more aroused. Together, they embark upon a quest rife with danger & glory, one which bestows upon Dona the ultimate choice: sacrifice her lover to certain death or risk her own life to save him.

Frenchman’s Creek is the breathtaking story of a woman searching for love and adventure who embraces the dangerous life of … More

Here Comes Everybody, subtitled ‘An Introduction to James Joyce for the Ordinary Reader’, was commissioned by Joyce’s own publishers, Faber and Faber, in 1963. Burgess’s original title was ‘James Joyce and the Common Man’, and he introduces the book with a provocative statement: ‘If ever there was a writer for the people, Joyce was that writer.’ Here Comes Everybody was Burgess’s third non-fiction book, following in the wake of English Literature: A Survey for Students (1958) and Language Made Plain (1964). Written between January and August 1964, Here Comes Everybody was published in 1965. The American edition, published by Norton in the same year, was retitled Re Joyce. The book was widely reviewed on publication, and it quickly established itself as a useful guide to Joyce’s work.

Burgess divides Here Comes Everybody into three sections. The discussion proceeds chronologically, taking in each of Joyce’s early published works … More

Born OTD in 1955, American novelist, essayist and poet, Barbara Kingslover. She was raised in rural Kentucky and lived briefly in the Congo in her early childhood. Kingsolver earned degrees in biology at DePauw University and the University of Arizona and worked as a freelance writer before she began writing novels. Her work often focuses on topics such as social justice, biodiversity and the interaction between humans and their communities and environments.

“2016 Vineland Meet Willa Knox, a woman who stands braced against an upended world that seems to hold no mercy … More

Born OTD in 1936, American poet, novelist, & social activist, Marge Piercy. He, She And It, is a cyberpunk novel by Piercy published in 1991. It won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for Best Science Fiction novel in 1993. The novel examines gender roles, human identity & AI, political economy, environmentalism, love, & storytelling through a suspenseful plot, set in a post-apocalyptic America, of the romance between a human woman & the cyborg created to protect her community from corporate raiders.

In the middle of the twenty-first century, life as we know it has changed for all time. Shira Shipman’s marriage … More

Born OTD in 1902, American author who won the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature for his realistic & imaginative writings, combining as they do sympathetic humour & keen social perception, John Steinbeck. He has been called ‘a giant of American letters’, and many of his works are considered classics of Western literature. Most of Steinbeck’s work is set in central California, particularly in the Salinas Valley and the California Coast Ranges region. His works frequently explored the themes of fate and injustice, especially as applied to downtrodden or everyman protagonists.

‘Everything was dead, everything unreal; the dark mob was made up of stiff lay-figures’ One of America’s greatest writers explores … More

Born OTD in 1931, American novelist, essayist, book editor, and college professor, Toni Morrison. The majority of the narrative takes place in Harlem during the 1920s; however, as the pasts of the various characters are explored, the narrative extends back to the mid-19th-century American South. The novel deliberately mirrors the music of its title, with various characters “improvising” solo compositions that fit together to create a whole work. The tone of the novel also shifts with these compositions, from bluesy laments to up beat, sensual ragtime.

The novel also utilizes the call-and-response style of jazz music, allowing the characters to explore the same events from different … More

Born OTD in 1945, Irish novelist, short story writer, adapter of dramas and screenwriter, John Banville. When art historian Max Morden returns to the seaside village where he once spent a childhood holiday, he is both escaping from a recent loss and confronting a distant trauma. The Grace family had appeared that long-ago summer as if from another world. Mr and Mrs Grace, with their worldly ease and candour, were unlike any adults he had met before. But it was his contemporaries, the Grace twins Myles and Chloe, who most fascinated Max. He grew to know them intricately, even intimately, and what ensued would haunt him for the rest of his years and shape everything that was to follow.

‘A novel in which all of his remarkable gifts come together to produce a real work of art, disquieting, beautiful, … More

Born OTD in 1857 Polish-British writer, Joseph Conrad. Writing near the peak of the British Empire, Conrad drew, among other things, on his native Poland’s national experiences and on his own experiences in the French and British merchant navies, to create short stories and novels that reflect aspects of a European-dominated world—including imperialism and colonialism—and that profoundly explore the human psyche.

Set in the Congo during the period of rapid colonial expansion in the 19th century, the story deals with the … More

Who was the real George Eliot? In Love with George Eliot is a glorious debut novel which tells the compelling story of England’s greatest woman novelist as you’ve never read it before. Marian Evans is a scandalous figure, living in sin with a married man, George Henry Lewes. She has shocked polite society, and women rarely deign to visit her. In secret, though, she has begun writing fiction under the pseudonym George Eliot. As Adam Bede’s fame grows, curiosity rises as to the identity of its mysterious writer. Gradually it becomes apparent that the moral genius Eliot is none other than the disgraced woman living with Lewes.

Now Evans’ tremendous celebrity begins. The world falls in love with her. She is the wise and great writer, sent … More

Born OTD in 1939, Canadian poet, novelist, literary critic, essayist, inventor, teacher, and environmental activist, Margaret Atwood. Can we ever be wholly free? In this book of breathtaking imaginary leaps that conjure dystopias and magical islands, Margaret Atwood holds a mirror up to our own world. The reflection we are faced with, of men and women in prisons literal and metaphorical, is frightening, but it is also a call to arms to speak and to act to preserve our freedom while we still can. And in that, there is hope.

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