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Black Lamb


Now in its 14th year of publication, this magazine was created to offer the discerning reader a stimulating selection of excellent original writing. Black Lamb Review is a literate rather than a literary publication. Regular columns by writers in a variety of geographic locations and vocations are supplemented by features, reviews, articles on books and authors, and a selection of “departments,” including an acerbic advice column and a lamb recipe.


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Honorary Black Lambs

March 1st, 2006


As always in this space, we present new entries to the Black Lamb Literary Calendar, which will appear later this year. Here are your handy thumbnail guides, with selected bibliographies, to three preeminent figures of literary history.

stracheybybeerbohm1.jpgBloomsbury biographer Lytton Strachey, b. March 1, 1880, d. 1932

Whatever his limitations, Strachey revolutionized the writing of biography in English with his book Eminent Victorians, in which he replaced the standard Victorian two-volume compendium of minuscule facts with shorter accounts. If his portrayals of Cardinal Manning, Dr. Thomas Arnold, Florence Nightingale, and General George Gordon reveal as much about the biographer as about the biographee, this only adds to the fun. Strachey went long steps further in the direction of tabloid journalism (elegant tabloid journalism, though) in his subsequent books; biography was never the same again.

Biography Eminent Victorians, 1918. Queen Victoria, 1921. Elizabeth and Essex, 1928. Portraits in Miniature, 1931. Essays & Studies Landmarks in French Literature, 1912. Books and Characters, French and English, 1922. Characters and Commentaries, 1933.

mcphee.jpgNew Jersey writer John McPhee, b. March 8, 1931

Since the Sixties McPhee has been turning out his inimitable books on a huge range of subjects: the produce market, basketball, aviation, marine shipping, volcanos in Iceland, the art market, geology … the list goes on. To each he brings a curiosity and the ability to find a fascinating spokesman and guide. We’ve listed most of his books below, leaving out only a couple in his series on American geology, the one area in which he allows textbook material to occasionally dominate. You cannot fail to learn, and to enjoy learning, with McPhee’s books.

Books A Sense of Where You Are, 1965. The Headmaster, 1966. Oranges, 1967. The Pine Barrens, 1968. A Roomful of Hovings, 1968. Levels of the Game, 1969. The Crofter and the Laird, 1970. Encounters with the Archdruid, 1971. The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed, 1973. The Curve of Binding Energy, 1974. Pieces of the Frame, 1975. The Survival of the Bark Canoe, 1975. Coming into the Country, 1977. Giving Good Weight, 1979. Basin and Range, 1981. La Place de la Concorde Suisse, 1984. Table of Contents, 1985. The Control of Nature, 1989. Looking for a Ship, 1990. The Ransom of Russian Art, 1994. Irons in the Fire, 1997. The Founding Fish, 2002.

Scottish novelist Tobias Smollett. b. March 18, 1721, d. 1771

During his lifetime (and afterwards), Smollett had the misfortune of being placed in competition with Henry Fielding, and his reputation suffered as a result. But Smollett’s novels, especially Humphry Clinker, his masterpiece, are lively, quirky creations, full of memorable characters and a healthy dose of social satire, and informed by Smollett’s broad experience of the world. The episode in Humphry where the title character’s true parentage is revealed is brilliant, far surpassing Fielding’s similar revelation in Tom Jones.

Novels Roderick Random, 1748. Peregrine Pickle, 1751. The Expedition of Humphry Clinker, 1771. Other Travels in France and Italy, 1766.

OTHER MARCH BIRTHDAYS AND EVENTS OF NOTE 1st Polish composer Frédéric Chopin (1810-1849), American novelist William Dean Howells (1837-1920), American novelist Ralph Ellison (1914-1994), and American poet Robert Lowell (1917-1977). 2nd Bohemian composer Bedrich Smetana (1824-1884), Yiddish writer Shalom Aleichem (1859-1916), German composer Kurt Weill (1900-1950), brilliant children’s book writer Theodor (Dr. Seuss) Geisl (1904-1991), and novelist and journalist Tom Wolfe (b. 1931); D.H. Lawrence dies in 1930 at age forty-five of tuberculosis. 3rd English Restoration dramatist Thomas Otway (1652-1685) and American poet James Merrill (1926-1995). 4th Italian composer Antonio Vivaldi (1678-1741) and British novelist Allan Sillitoe (b. 1928). 5th American naturalist novelist Frank Norris (1870-1902) and Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos (1887-1959). 6th Florentine sculptor and painter Michelangelo Buonarotti (1475-1564), French soldier and satirist Savienen Cyrano de Bergerac (1619-1655), English poet Elizabeth Barrett Browning (1806-1861), American satirist Ring Lardner Sr. (1885-1933), and Colombian magic realist Gabriel Garcia Marquez (b. 1928). 7th English composer Henry Purcell (1659-1695) and French composer Maurice Ravel (1875-1937). 8th Italian nobleman, composer, and murderer Carlo Gesualdo (1566-1613), German composer Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach (1714-1788), American composer Alan Hovhaness (1911-2000), and English author Kenneth Grahame (1859-1932); American writer Sherwood Anderson dies of peritonitis in 1941 after ingesting a toothpick. 9th English novelist and gardening writer Vita Sackville-West (1892-1962), American composer Samuel Barber (1910-1981), and American novelist Mickey Spillane (b. 1918). 12th American Beat novelist Jack Kerouac (1922-1969) and American playwright Edward Albee (b. 1928). 13th Austrian composer Hugo Wolf (1860-1903), American expat journalist Janet Tyler Flanner (1892-1978), and sci-fi writer and Scientologist huckster L. Ron Hubbard (1911-1986). 14th German scientist Albert Einstein (1879-1955), and American photographer Diane Arbus (1923-1971); Karl Marx dies in poverty in London in 1883. Ides German composer Georg Philipp Telemann (1681-1767), Yeats patron Lady Augusta Gregory (1852-1932), and American biographer Richard Ellman (1918-1987). 17th German composer and teacher Joseph Rheinberger (1839-1901); in 1740, Justice of the Peace Henry Fielding summons poet laureate Colley Cibber to court for the murder of the English language. 18th Russian composer Nikolay Andreyevich Rimsky-Korsakov (1844-1908), English WWI poet Wilfred Owen (1893-1918), and American novelist John Updike (b. 1932). 19th American novelist Philip Roth (b. 1933). 20th Roman poet Ovid (43 B.C.-18 A.D.) and Norwegian playwright Henrik Ibsen (1828-1906). 21st German composer Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) and Russian composer Modest Moussorgski (1839-1881). 23rd Leonard and Virginia Woolf, in 1917, establish the Hogarth Press in their dining room. 24th Beat poet Lawrence Ferlinghetti (b. 1919). 25th Hungarian composer Béla Bartók (1881-1945) and American novelist and short story writer Flannery O’Connor (1926-1964). 26th English poet A.E. Housman (1859-1936), American poet Robert Frost (1874-1963), American playwright (Thomas Lanier) Tennessee Williams (1911-1983), and French composer and conductor Pierre Boulez (b. 1925). 27th French composer Vincent D’Indy (1851-1931). 28th Michigan-born novelist Nelson Algren (1909-1981); Virginia Woolf commits suicide in 1941. 29th English composer William Walton (1902-1983). 30th Spanish painter Francisco de Goya (1746-1828), French poet Paul Verlaine (1844-1896), Dutch painter Vincent Willem van Gogh (1853-1890), and Irish playwright Sean O’Casey (1880-1964). 31st English poet Andrew Marvell (1621-1678), German composer Franz Josef Haydn (1732-1809), Ukrainian novelist Nikolai Gogol (1809-1852), English writer and translator Edward Fitzgerald (1809-1883), Mexican poet and critic Octavio Paz (1914-1998), English novelist John Fowles (b. 1926), and English composer Thomas Ades (b. 1971). •

Posted by: The Editors
Category: All Television Issue, Books and Authors, Honorary Black Lambs | Link to this Entry


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