February 15, 2018 – Writers’ & Poets’ Birthdays & Other Literary History
Today is Thursday, Feb. 15, 2018. It’s the birthday of Susan B. Anthony, “The Simpsons” creator Matt Groening, and Galileo Galilei. It’s also the birthday of poet Bruce Dawe and Norman Bridwell. He created Clifford the Big Red Dog. Today’s poem is “Hallucination,” by F. S. Flint. Thank you for reading Bidwell Hollow. Hope you have a beautiful day.
It’s the birthday of Matt Groening (affiliate link), born in Portland, OR, in 1954.
Groening created the comic strip “Life Is Hell.” James L. Brooks asked the cartoonist to create short, animated versions of the cartoon for “The Tracey Ullman Show.”
Instead, Groening came up with a new set of characters. There was a mom, dad, and three kids. Groening named the family the Simpsons. He expanded the animated shorts into a half-hour program.
The Simpsons television show premiered in 1990. The program featured a family comprised of Homer, Marge, Bart, Lisa, and Maggie. Viewers loved the show’s satire.
In 2009, The Simpsons became the longest-running primetime TV show in American history. It’s won 20 Emmys.
Susan B. Anthony
Today is also the birthday of Susan B. Anthony, born in 1820 in Adams, MA.
Her family growing up was politically active. And in her thirties, Anthony became involved in the abolitionist and temperance movements.
Anthony met a woman named Elizabeth Cady Stanton. Stanton’s primary cause was women’s suffrage. It became a cause for Anthony, too, after she wasn’t allowed to speak at a temperance rally in 1852.
The two women formed the Woman’s New York Temperance Society. Stanton became president, and Anthony traveled the country arguing for women to have the right to vote
In 1869, she and Stanton formed the National Woman Suffrage Association. They also started a weekly publication titled The Revolution.
And in 1881, Anthony, Stanton, and Matilda Joslyn Gage published the first volume of the History of Woman Suffrage. They intended for the book to document the women’s suffrage movement in America.
The three women published three volumes by 1887. Three more volumes published between 1902 and 1922 by a friend of Anthony’s, Ida Husted Harper.
The six volumes of History of Woman Suffrage contain 60,000 pages about the struggle to allow women to vote in the U.S.
Susan B. Anthony died in 1906. Fourteen years later, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution gave women the right to vote.
And born today in Fitzroy, Australia, in 1930 was Bruce Dawe (affiliate link). He’s one of Australia’s best-selling living poets.
Dawe published his first poetry collection in 1962. In total, he’s released 13 volumes of poetry, a short story compilation, and a book of essays.
Dawe’s known for poetry that reflects the lives of the typical Australian. Before becoming a poet, he worked different jobs, including a nine-year stint in the Royal Australian Air Force.
It’s that varied background that Dawe pours into his poems. His writing reflects Australian society and the people who comprise it.
Schools across Australia teach Dawe’s poetry. And he’s won many awards, including the Christopher Brennan Award for lifetime achievement in poetry.
And in 1999, Dawe endowed in his name an award recognizing an Australian poet each year.
It’s also the birthday of astronomer and mathematician Galileo Galilei. He was born in Pisa, Italy, in 1564.
Many view Galileo as the father of modern science. He contributed to the study of motion and the development of the scientific method. He also had an impact on astronomy.
In 1610, Galileo used a telescope to discover four stars, or moons, orbiting Jupiter. He also observed the moon’s rugged surface, as well as many before unseen stars in the Milky Way.
Galileo published his findings in the short treatise “Sidereus Nuncius.” His observations about Jupiter’s moons indicated that the solar system revolves around the Sun, not the Earth.
The Catholic Church put Galileo on notice that belief in a heliocentric, or sun-centered universe, was heresy.
But Galileo published in 1632 “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems.” In the book, Galileo attempts to present arguments from those who believe the solar system revolves around Earth and those who believe it revolves around the Sun.
The Catholic Church wasn’t pleased. They brought Galileo before the Inquisition in 1633. The Church convicted him of heresy.
Galileo lived under house arrest the final nine years of his life.
In 1744, the Catholic Church removed “Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems” from its list of banned books.
Today is also the birthday of Norman Bridwell (affiliate link). He’s the creator of Clifford the Big Red Dog.
Bridwell was born in Kokomo, IN, in 1928. He was in New York City in 1962 when he took some of his drawings to children’s book publishers.
Bridwell received a lot of rejections, but one rejection came with some advice. Why didn’t he write a story to go along with his illustrations?
So that’s what Bridwell did. He made the dog huge, much like the dog he’d wanted as a child. On his wife’s advice, the illustrator named the dog Clifford. And because he had a jar of red paint on his desk the day he drew Clifford, he made the dog red.
The first Clifford book came out in 1963. Eighty Clifford books have now published. They’ve sold 129 million copies and translated into 13 languages.
I know this room,
and there are corridors:
the pictures, I have seen before;
the statues and those gems in cases
I have wandered by before,—
stood there silent and lonely
in a dream of years ago.
I know the dark of night is all around me;
my eyes are closed, and I am half asleep.
My wife breathes gently at my side.
But once again this old dream is within me,
and I am on the threshold waiting,
wondering, pleased, and fearful.
Where do those doors lead,
what rooms lie beyond them?
But my baby moves and tosses
from side to side,
and her need calls me to her.
Now I stand awake, unseeing,
in the dark,
and I move towards her cot…
I shall not reach her… There is no direction…
I shall walk on…
– F. S. Flint, Public Domain