January 1

1879: E.M. Forster, author of A Passage to India, born in London

1909: Marcel Proust dips a crust of toast in his tea on this day and the experience prompts him to think of madeleines and construct the beginnings of A Remembrance of Things Past.

1919: Author J.D. Salinger is born in NYC

January 2

1920:  Isaac Asimov is born in Petrovichi, Russia

1942: Nobel Prize Winner Sinclair Lewis and journalist Dorothy Thompson divorce after 13 years of marriage.

January 3

1892: J.R.R. Tolkien, the son of an impoverished bank clerk, was born on this day in Bloemfontein, South Africa; one of his earliest childhood memories of life in South Africa was encountering a huge, hairy spider. After Tolkien’s father died in 1986, the family returned to the West Midlands in England.

January 4

1785: Jakob Grimm is born in Hanau, near Frankfurt-am-Main on this day. Along with his brother Wilhelm, the two will put together Grimm’s Fairy Tales

January 5

1821: In his diary entry on this day, Lord Byron writes about Sir Walter Scott: “I long to get drunk with him.”

January 6

1878:  Carl Sandburg, whose biography of Abraham Lincoln wins the Pulitzer Prize in 1939, is born in Galesburg, Ill.

January 7

1925: Author and zoologist Gerald Durrell, the younger brother of Lawrence, (The Alexandra Quartet)  is born in India.

January 8

1931: London bookstore Poetry Bookshop opens its doors and Robert Frost and Ezra Pound meet for the first time

January 9

1324: Explorer, chronicler Marco Polo dies in Venice at age 70. Twenty-five years earlier, he dictated to a fellow inmate, while both were prisoners of war, his memoirs The Travels of Marco Polo. Later, he says he did not reveal even half of what he saw.

January 10

1845: “I love you” begins the correspondence between Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning after he writes her a note.


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