“It Is Better to Light a Candle than to Curse the Darkness”


On this date in 1961, British lawyer Peter Benenson’s article The Forgotten Prisoners is published in several international newspapers. This leads to the beginnings of Amnesty International, the human rights organization founded by Benenson.



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Tony Hillerman Was Born on This Date


Novelist Tony Hillerman, known for his detective fiction and his Navajo Tribal Police novels, was born on this date in 1925.

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Death of the “Father”

Venerable Bede

On this date in A.D. 735, the Venerable Bede dies in a monastery at Jarrow. His work, The Ecclesiastical History of the English People has earned him the title “The Father of English History.”

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Life’s a Beach

Lido di Venezia

On this date in 1911, Thomas Mann visits the Lido di Venezia and is inspired to write his novella Death in Venice.

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Turgenev Tranquilizes Tolstoy

Ivan Turgenev and Leo Tolstoy

On this date in 1861, while visiting fellow author Ivan Turgenev, Leo Tolstoy falls asleep reading the proofs of Turgenev’s latest novel, Fathers and Sons.

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Longfellow Lauds and Lambastes Austen

Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

On this date in 1839, American poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow writes this assessment of British novelist Jane Austen: “her writings are a capital picture of real life, with all the little wheels and machinery laid bare like a patent clock. But she explains and fills out too much.” #Savage

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Victor Hugo Died on This Date


Victor Hugo died in Paris on this date in 1885. He was hailed as a national hero and buried in the Panthéon.

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La Vagabonde Begins Serial Publication on This Date

On this date in 1910, Colette begins serial publication of her novel La Vagabonde. The novel was based on her own experiences on the musical stage and her failed first marriage.

La Vagabonde

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Brownings Begin Bonding on This Date

On this date in 1845, Robert Browning pays his first visit to poet Elizabeth Barrett. The two will marry on September 12, 1846, forming one of literature’s most famous and enduring love stories.

Cast of the Brownings Clasped Hands

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Hellman Blasts Blacklisting

cover detail

On this date in 1952, Lillian Hellman blasts the House Committee on Un-American Activities. She states, “I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions.”

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