Literature broadly refers to any collection of written or oral work, but it more commonly and narrowly refers to writings specifically considered to be an art form, especially prose fiction, drama, and poetry, in contrast to academic writing and newspapers. In recent centuries, the definition has expanded to now include oral literature, much of which has been transcribed.
Literature, as an art form, can also include works in various non-fiction genres, such as autobiography, diaries, memoir, letters, and the essay, as well as in the disciplines of history and philosophy.
Uncle Tom's Cabin; or, Life Among the Lowly
, is an anti-slavery
novel by American author Harriet Beecher Stowe
. Published in 1852, the novel "helped lay the groundwork for the Civil War
Stowe, a Connecticut-born teacher at the Hartford Female Seminary and an active abolitionist, featured the character of Uncle Tom, a long-suffering black slave around whom the stories of other characters revolve. The sentimental novel depicts the reality of slavery while also asserting that Christian love can overcome something as destructive as enslavement of fellow human beings.
Uncle Tom's Cabin was the best-selling novel of the 19th century, and the second best-selling book of that century, following the Bible. It is credited with helping fuel the abolitionist cause in the 1850s. In the first year after it was published, 300,000 copies of the book were sold in the United States; one million copies were sold in Great Britain. In 1855, three years after it was published, it was called "the most popular novel of our day." In recent years, however, negative associations with Uncle Tom's Cabin have, to an extent, overshadowed the historical impact of the book as a "vital antislavery tool."
Emily Elizabeth Dickinson
(December 10, 1830 – May 15, 1886) was an American poet
. While Dickinson was a prolific private poet, fewer than a dozen of her nearly eighteen hundred poems were published during her lifetime. The work that was published during her lifetime was usually altered significantly by the publishers to fit the conventional poetic rules of the time. Dickinson's poems are unique for the era in which she wrote; they contain short lines, typically lack titles, and often use slant rhyme
as well as unconventional capitalization and punctuation. Many of her poems deal with themes of death and immortality, two recurring topics in letters to her friends.
Although most of her acquaintances were probably aware of Dickinson's writing, it was not until after her death in 1886—when Lavinia, Dickinson's younger sister, discovered her cache of poems—that the breadth of Dickinson's work became apparent. Her first collection of poetry was published in 1890 by personal acquaintances Thomas Wentworth Higginson and Mabel Loomis Todd, both of whom heavily edited the content. A complete and mostly unaltered collection of her poetry became available for the first time in 1955 when The Poems of Emily Dickinson was published by scholar Thomas H. Johnson. Despite some unfavorable reviews and some skepticism during the late 19th and early 20th century as to Dickinson's literary prowess, she is now almost universally considered to be one of the most important American poets.
||It occurred to him that what had appeared perfectly impossible before, namely that he had not spent his life as he should have done, might after all be true. It occurred to him that his scarcely perceptible attempts to struggle against what was considered good by the most highly placed people, those scarcely noticeable impulses which he had immediately suppressed, might have been the real thing, and all the rest false. And his professional duties and the whole arrangement of his life and of his family, and all his social and official interests, might all have been false. He tried to defend all those things to himself and suddenly felt the weakness of what he was defending. There was nothing to defend.
|— Leo Tolstoy, The Death of Ivan Ilych
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"The Queen of Hearts" is a poem based on the characters found on playing cards, by an anonymous author, that was first published in The European Magazine in April 1782. Published alongside three other poems, each on a different suit, "The Queen of Hearts" proved the most popular, and became well known as a nursery rhyme. This illustration is from republication in a 1901 edition of Mother Goose.
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Today in literature
- 19 BC - Virgil, Roman poet died
- 1542 - Juan Boscán Almogáver, Spanish poet died
- 1719 - Johann Heinrich Acker, German writer died
- 1832 - Sir Walter Scott, Scottish writer died
- 1866 - H. G. Wells, English writer born
- 1895 - Sergei Yesenin, Russian poet born
- 1902 - Luis Cernuda, Spanish poet born
- 1937 - J. R. R. Tolkien's The Hobbit is published.
- 1938 - Ivana Brlić-Mažuranić Croatian writer died
- 1944 - Fannie Flagg, American actress and novelist born
- 1947 - Stephen King, American author born
- 1947 - Marsha Norman, American playwright born
- 1972 - Henry de Montherlant, French writer died
- 1974 - Jacqueline Susann, American novelist died
- 2002 - Robert Forward, American writer died
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