Literature

John Keats: Poet, Father Of Romanticism Who Peaked When He Was Young

March 31, 2021

Posthumous portrait of John Keats by William Hilton. (National Portrait Gallery/Wikimedia Commons) During his life, John Keats was far from the most...

Leopold Von Sacher-Masoch: The Father Of Masochism, Explained

June 28, 2020

Leopold von Sacher-Masoch and Fanny Pistor Bogdanoff, c. 1870-1880 (note the whip). (Unknown author/Wikimedia Commons) Human sexuality is a vastly complica...

Chinua Achebe: 'Things Fall Apart' Author Wrote The First Major English Novel From An African P...

June 17, 2020

Prior to the 20th century, almost every English novel about Africa was written from the perspective of a white person...

Emily Dickinson: Things You Didn't Know About The Famous Writer, Horticulturist

May 28, 2020

Whether you're a fan of poetry or prefer HBO, you know Emily Dickinson, the poet from Amherst, Massachusetts who spent the 1800s writing...

The Invention Of Kryptonite: The Real Reason The Man Of Steel Needed A Weakness

May 22, 2020

There are a few things that everyone knows about Superman: He's faster than a speeding bullet, he can leap tall buildings in a single bo...

William Randolph Hearst: Father Of Yellow Journalism/Fake News Billionaire

April 29, 2020

There's never been an American character quite like William Randolph Hearst, the business tycoon, newspaper publisher, and politician who cre...

Shakespeare Hoarded Grains And Resold It For Profit During Famine

April 23, 2020

It's hard to think of William Shakespeare as anything but the author of some of the most stirring and populist plays of the 16th and 17th centuries, b...

The Origins Of Mermaids: Greek Mythology, Ghosts, And Christopher Columbus

January 9, 2020

Actress Glynis Johns as the title-role in the film Miranda, 1948. (Photo by Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images) Mermaids...

Where Does The Phrase "Pie In The Sky" Come From? A Song By The Wobblies

January 2, 2020

Even if you haven't ever referred to an idea as being a "pie in the sky," you've definitely heard the phrase. On its face, it's unclear why an airbo...

Auld Lang Syne: Song Meaning, History, And Why We Sing It On New Year's Eve

December 27, 2019

An onlooker holds a glass of champagne at a New Year's Eve celebration on Sydney Harbour in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse\City of Sy...

Santa Claus And Father Christmas Used To Be Two Completely Different Characters

December 25, 2019

Today, we tend to think of Santa Claus and Father Christmas as one and the same, along with Saint Nick, Kris Kringle, and every other na...

Fairy Tales Are Over 6,000 Years Old

October 5, 2019

The Brothers Grimm are often credited with writing some of the earliest and best-loved fairy tales, but the truth is, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were cultural researchers and lexicog...

Hansel and Gretel: A Real-Life Murder Mystery Turned Fairytale

August 5, 2019

One of our most beloved fairytales is the story of Hansel and Gretel. It's a strange cautionary tale about not trusting friendly strangers and the danger...

Encyclopedia Brown: Did You Grow Up Reading About This Boy Genius, Too?

July 8, 2019

One of the best-loved children’s book series of the 1960s and 1970s was the Encyclopedia Brown series. Who didn’t love to read the exploits of t...

“Rock A Bye, Baby” – The Origin Stories

July 2, 2019

If you think about it, the popular nursery rhyme, “Rock A Bye, Baby,” contains some strange lyrics. After all, it tells of a baby rocking in the branches of a tree and fa...

The Story Behind 'The Jumping Frogs of Calaveras County'

May 22, 2019

A young boy encourages his frog to perform a long jump. AFP PHOTO Source: (Photo credit STR/AFP/Getty Images) American author Samuel Clemens, better known by hi...

Special Delivery: Why Storks Bring Babies

April 23, 2019

It is one of our most common trope…a long-legged, white stork carrying a newborn baby in a white cloth bundle, delivering the child to its new parents. This is the story that...

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