May 15: House-bound for the past 21 years, American poet Emily Dickinson dies of nephritis in Amherst, Mass at age 55 on this day in 1886.

May 16: Edgar Allan Poe, disinherited by his foster father, marries his 13-year-old cousin Virginia Clemm on this day in 1836. Her death mask is on display at the Poe Museum in Richmond, Virginia.

May 17: Evelyn Waugh protests a review of his book in a letter published on this day in 1928 in The Times Literary Supplement in which he is repeatedly referred to as “Miss Waugh.”

May 18: Warrant issued on this day in 1593 for the arrest of Christopher Marlowe who is being accused (falsely) of heresy.

May 19: “I cannot and will not cut my conscience to fit this year’s fashions.” That’s what playwright Lillian Hellman tells the House Committee on Un-American Activities on this day in 1952 as she refuses to testify against other writers.

May 20: A first visit between two of England’s premier poets take place on this day in 1845 when Robert Browning visits Elizabeth Barrett, an invalid, in her bedroom.

May 21: The first English poet to make his living by writing, Alexander Pope is born on this day in London in 1688 and achieves financial success with his translations of Homer.

May 22: In 1859 on this day, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is born in Edinburgh, studies to be an opthmalogist but after not a single patient crossed his door, he began writing and created Sherlock Holmes. A statue of the world’s best known detective was located at Picardy Place in Edinburgh near where Conan Doyle lived but was moved in 2009 for safekeeping during construction work.

May 23: Carolus Linnaeus, the founder of modern botanical nomenclature and author of Philosophia Botanica published in 1751, is born on this day in Rashult, Sweden in 1707.

May 24: During a visit to Ivan Turgenev’s home on this day in 1861, Leo Tolstoy is given galleys of Fathers and Sons to read and as Turgenev watches, Tolstoy falls asleep after just a few pages.

May 25: Thomas Mann visits the Lido, the beach in Venice on on this day in 1911 and the death of Gustav Mahler prompts him to begin Death in Venice.


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