1662: Samuel Pepys records the following in his diary:
the first of January, 1834, I left Mr. Covey, and went to live with Mr.
William Freeland, who lived about three miles from St. Michael's. I soon
found Mr. Freeland a very different man from Mr. Covey. Though not rich,
he was what would be called an educated southern gentleman. Mr. Covey,
as I have shown, was a well-trained negro-breaker and slave-driver."
1854: Sir James Frazer is born in Glasgow. His The Golden Bough: A Study in Comparative Religion will strongly influence D.H. Lawrence and T.S. Eliot, and his Totemism and Exogamy will be a prime source for Freud's Totem und Taboo.
1879: E.M. Forster is born in London. "Only connect..."
1894: Thomas Edison copyrights the first motion picture in America under the title Edison Kinetoscopic Record of a Sneeze.
Sean Aloysius O'Fearna (John Ford) is born.
"Of course we had our techniques, and we had directors that focused on that, but the fact is the characters and the story came first. A lot of these young folks today, they have so much of this technology thing going for them they forget to make a movie, tell a story, create a world."1909: Marcel Proust bites into tea-soaked cookie and recalls his childhood. His character Swann will have a similar experience in A la Recherche du temps perdu.
1919: J.D. Salinger (pictured) is born in New York City.
1942: Country Joe McDonald is born in El Monte, California.
18-Rabbit, Mayan king of Copan, installs Cauac-Sky as ruler of Quirigua.
1492: Granada capitulates to the Spanish. The expulsion of Jews and Moors from Spain is part of a "holy war" mentality that will send the once great nation into a tailspin--by 1600 Spain, despite its wealth from the Americas, will be in marked decline, and it will remain one of the poorer and weaker nations of Europe for hundreds of years.
1929: On their first meeting, Thomas Wolfe, with his "wild hair and bright countenance," reminds his editor, Maxwell Perkins (pictured), of Shelley.
1942: Sinclair Lewis and Dorothy Thompson are divorced in Woodstock, Vermont, after 13 years of marriage.
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (Reuters)
BCE: Marcus Tullius
Cicero is born near Arpinum.
1521: Martin Luther is excommunicated by Pope Leo X.
1882: Docking in New York, Oscar Wilde is asked by customs officials if he has anything to declare; he replies: "Nothing but my genius."
1888: Cigarette holder manufacturer Marvin C. Stone of Washington, DC, invents the spiral-wound wax drinking straw. (Previous straws were natural rye grasses.) Originally his straws were hand rolled; the wax kept the paper from getting soggy.
1898: Zasu Pitts is born in Parsons, Kansas. She will star in in Erich von Stroheim's classic Greed (1924).
1980: Conservationist Joy Adamson (author of Born Free) is killed by a servant in a dispute over wages.
Caligula is murdered.
1785: Jakob Grimm is born in Hanau, near Frankfurt-am-Main.
1856: Maurice Mac-Nab is born in Vierzon. He will be best known as the consumptive postal clerk who will be one of the best-loved satirists at the famous cabaret Le Chat Noir, and as author of Métingue du Métropolitain, a parody that will become a kind of alternative classic. This drawing of him is from L'Éphéméride anarchiste.
1960: Albert Camus ("You will never be happy if you continue to search for what happiness consists of; you will never live if you are looking for the meaning of life") is killed near Sens in an automobile accident.
1965: T.S. Eliot dies in London. The Daily Bleed offers this commentary from Kenneth Rexroth:
Lord Byron (pictured) on Sir Walter Scott, in his diary: "Wonderful man!
I long to get drunk with him."
1974: Alexandre Dumas, pere, 23 years old, fights his first duel, in which his trousers fall down.
1895: Henry James's play Guy Domville opens at the St. James's Theatre in London. When the playwright, arriving too late to assess the audience's reaction, steps forward to cries of "Author! Author!" he is jeered and hissed offstage. At 52, James turns his back on the theater and returns to prose.
1896: The word hamburger first appears in print, in a Walla Walla newspaper (it is named after the German city of Hamburg).
1921: Friedrich Durrenmatt is born at Konolfingen, Bern.
1932: Umberto Eco is born in Alessandria, Italy.
1933: Work begins on the Golden Gate Bridge.
Rioters destroy 30,000 ancient manuscripts, books, and palm leaf inscriptions
at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute; 72 people are arrested.
The rioters are upset by statements in the book Shivaji: Hindu King
in Islamic India by James Laine.
The Committee of Inquiry on the South Sea Bubble publishes its findings
in England. The “South Sea Bubble” is the term given to a
period of overheated speculation in the South Sea Company that occurred
between 1711 and 1720. It was ended with the collapse of company shares
in September 1720. The bubble was predicated on trading rights granted
for South America and the supposed opportunities for fabulous enrichment
that these rights presented. In fact the company, which was financed with
substantial sums of government bonds, did not even make a voyage to South
America until 1717. In 1719 the company proposed to take on the entire
national debt of Britain (amounting to about 50 million pounds) in exchange
for more bonds. The result of all this was a frenzy of speculation, followed
by a loss of confidence, and the collapse. (One of those who would lose
a fortune in the scheme was Sir Isaac Newton; one who did well by selling
when stocks were high was Alexander Pope.)
1854: William (or Thomas) Sherlock Scott Holmes is born at the farmstead of Mycroft, near Sigerside, in the North Riding of Yorkshire. He will always have a pipe in hand, wear a deerstalker cap, play the violin, and use cocaine when bored. He lives at 221B Baker Street.
1895: Former Hawaiian Queen Liliuokalani is arrested after a failed coup against the government of Sanford Dole.
1927: US Marines invade Nicaragua yet again.
1931: E. L. Doctorow is born in New York City.
1958: e.e. cummings wins the Bollingen Prize for Poetry.
1994: Ice maiden Nancy Kerrigan is attacked by Tonya Harding's bodyguard.
On the day after Twelfth Day, when the Christmas festivities terminated,
women returned to their "distaffs" or daily occupations. It is also called
Rock Day, a distaff being called a rock (because rocks were used in spinning,
according to E.
Cobham Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, 1894).
"What! shall a woman with a rock drive thee away?(See January 10.)
1841: Victor Hugo is elected to the Academie Francaise on his fifth attempt.
1873: Charles Peguy (pictured on stamp) is born in Orleans.
Et comme elle veillait
tous les soirs solitaire Et quand le soir
viendra qui fermera le jour, Conduira d'un pas
ferme et d'une main légère
Et comme elle veillait
tous les soirs solitaire
Et quand le soir
viendra qui fermera le jour,
Conduira d'un pas
ferme et d'une main légère
1972: John Berryman jumps off a bridge into the Mississippi, a suicide at 58.
1775: English printer and type designer John Baskerville, 68 or 69, dies, and at his request is buried in the family garden in Bimmingham. Printer to Cambridge University since 1758--and manufacturer of his own paper and ink--he published his masterpiece, a folio Bible, in 1763. For a discussion of Baskerville's type, go here.
1824: Wilkie Collins is born in London.
1913: In London, Harold Munro opens the doors of the Poetry Bookshop, through which pass Robert Frost and Ezra Pound, meeting for the first time.
1926: Abdul-Aziz ibn Saud becomes the King of Hejaz and renames it Saudi Arabia. Hejaz, now a region in northwest Saudi Arabia, is best known as the site of the holy city of Mecca. During World War I it was encouraged to rebel against its Ottoman overlords by T. E. Lawrence. On May 20, 1927, the United Kingdom would recognize Abdul Aziz's independence as "the Kingdom of Hijaz and Nejd." In 1932, the two regions would be officially unified as the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
1924: Virginia Woolf moves with her husband Leonard Woolf to 52 Tavistock Place in Bloomsbury Square, near the British Museum.
1973: Mick Jagger is refused Japanese visa because of 1969 drug bust. Jagger is quoted: "I don't approve of drugs, and I don't approve of people taking drugs, unless they're very careful."
1980: In Saudi Arabia, sixty-three Islamic fundamentalists are beheaded for their part in the occupation (in November 1979, when 27 Saudi soldiers and more than 100 rebels were killed) of the Mecca's Great Mosque as part of their call for the overthrow of the Saudi government.
PLOUGH MONDAY: The Monday after Epiphany--the first Monday after Twelfth Day--is considered the end of the Christmas holidays, the day when men return to their plough or daily work. To mark the day, farmers in the North Country of England would drag a plough from door to door and beg "plough-money" for drink and feasting at a banquet overseen by a queen called Bessy (see January 7).
1776: Thomas Paine (pictured) publishes Common Sense, one of this country's all-time best-sellers. It advocates independence of the American colonies from England, and Paine would donate all of the proceeds from its sales to the revolution. Paine had failed at several careers before finding his calling as an editor, journalist, and author. He was against monarchy, slavery, and organized religion, and his anti-religious writings would lose him his popular following. He would be imprisoned in France (ironically, for opposing the execution of Louis XVI) but the American leaders he had so generously befriended would turn their backs on him when he sought release as a U.S. citizen. Like many journalists he had a weakness for drink, which would damage his health, and he would die a pauper in New York City in 1809. His epitath in the local paper, The New York Citizen, would be reprinted in papers throughout the country: "He had lived long, did some good and much harm."
1845: Relative unknown Robert Browning writes a love letter to Elizabeth Barrett after she praises one of his poems in print. They will elope four years later. Years later, after her death, Orientalist and translator Edward FitzGerald said in a letter to a friend that he had thanked God that she was dead, so that no more poems would come. (He also expressed the opinioni that a woman's place is in the kitchen not at a writing desk.) After Fitzgerald's death, Browning continued the cycle of arguing with the dead, composing a vicious poem to FitzGerald, in which he said that even if Fitzgerald were alive he would resist the impulse to spit in his face since he would be "spitting from lips sanctified by hers."
1921: Zion City, Illinois, bans smoking and jazz.