The question of how the writer ends up with posterity on his, or her, side assumes an even sharper focus when you consider the fates of all the men and women of letters who have failed to pull off this Herculean feat. The English literary world of the last century is littered with the bones of once-gargantuan reputations now crumbled into dust.
In 1847, Charles Dickens founded a house for homeless women in the Shepherd’s Bush neighborhood of London. After setting up the center’s amenities, he publicized the house using leaflets and, upon hearing that London society was shocked that the center had a piano, spread a rumor that the center boasted a piano for every resident. At The Guardian, a look at a letter Dickens wrote to the matron of the house, to be sold at Christie’s in May. (h/t The Paris Review)
Audrey Niffenegger has a new short story in the form of a comic. She collaborated with cartoonist Eddie Campbell on a comic about the dangers of using P.I.s to spy on your husband. The comic is one in a series of collaborations between novelists and cartoonists to celebrate the British Library’s forthcoming exhibition of British comics.
Is “literary” fiction just a product of clever marketing? Elizabeth Edmondson thinks it is. At The Guardian, she argues that classically literary authors like Jane Austen had no idea they were writing Literature — posterity classified their work as such later on. Her essay dovetails nicely with our own Edan Lepucki’s argument that literature is a genre.
What was the very first ebook? It’s hard to say with any degree of precision, but a pretty good candidate is Peter James’s Host, which was copied and stored on a floppy disk back in 1993. At The Guardian, a look back at the early life of the format. You could also read David Rothman’s tribute to the ebook pioneer Michael Hart. (h/t The Paris Review)
Even though Harper Lee hasn’t given an interview in 50 years, her letters are an insight into the notoriously reclusive writer.”I simply don’t give interviews, because it takes great skill to ask meaningful questions and very few people in the media have it,” she wrote in a 2005 letter. Two of Lee’s letters will be auctioned today and are expected to go for at least $2,500 a piece. Pair with: Our essay on reclusive authors.