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The New Oxford Book of Literary Anecdotes
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The subjects of the anecdotes include all the major British, American, and Commonwealth writers, starting with Chaucer, Sir Thomas More and Sir Walter Raleigh, then Shakespeare, Jonson, Donne, Milton, Johnson, Swift, Pope, Hume, Edmund Burke, Gibbon, Jefferson, the Romantics, Fenimore Cooper, Macaulay, Emerson, Hawthorne, Longfellow, Abraham Lincoln, Margaret Fuller, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Thoreau, Douglass, Melville, Whitman, Dickens, Austen, the Brontes, Twain, Edith Wharton, Stephen Crane, Cather, Robert Frost, Carson McCuller, Salinger, Mailer, Larkin, Vonnegut, Burroughs, Bellow, Churchill, James Baldwin, Tom Wolfe, Updike, Philip Roth, Wole Soyinka, Les Murray, Margaret Atwood, Stoppard, Coetzee, Chatwin, Bob Dylan, Rushdie, McEwan, Amis, Jeanette Winterson etc; Authors of the anecdotes are equally diverse, from the diarists John Aubrey, John Evelyn and James Boswell to fellow writers e.g. Wodehouse, Auden, Harriet Martineau, Walter Scott, Evelyn Waugh, Vanessa Bell; modern biographers such as Selina Hastings, journals and radio interviews.

About the Author


John Gross is the editor of The Oxford Book of Aphorisms, The Oxford Book of Essays, After Shakespeare, and many other publications. He was editor of the Times Literary Supplement from 1974 to 1981, and is currently theatre critic of the Sunday Telegraph.

Reviews

Gross (A Double Thread), former editor of the New York Times and Times Literary Supplement, has compiled more than 700 anecdotes about English-language writers, from Geoffrey Chaucer to J.K. Rowling. The brief, chronologically-arranged (by subject's birth date) entries offer a glimpse into the personalities and times of these authors. In some cases, italicized commentary explains context. The material is often humorous, e.g., Bertrand Russell's advice on how to "make" a girl; and perhaps surprising, e.g., Wilkie Collins's self-administered daily doses of laudanum. Because the entries are largely biographical, this collection is as much a contribution to social history as to literary criticism, though it would best be dipped into for the purposes of trivia-not reference or research. It builds on The Oxford Book of Literary Anecdotes (1975) and The Oxford Book of American Literary Anecdotes (1981), with about a ten percent overlap of content. Gross makes no claim to have recherary figures-he further admits that many of the entries "have no direct bearing on authorship or literary life"-but literature lovers will find juicy tidbits and surprising revelations on every page. For public library collections.-Rebecca Bollen Manalac, Sydney, Australia Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Review from previous edition: 'contains scores of delightful items...All the anecdotes are set out in the elegant, unobtrusive manner that one is accustomed to from other of Mr. Gross's handsome anthologies for Oxford -- volumes of aphorisms, essays, comic verse, and English Prose.' Joseph Epstein, Wall Street Journal, July 2006

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