Today's Page: August 29th
Maurice Maeterlinck, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. Herbert Meier and Karen Hesse are the acclaimed authors who were born on a day like this.
Maurice Polydore Marie Bernard Maeterlinck, also called Comte (Count) Maeterlinck from 1932, was a Belgian playwright, poet, and essayist who wrote in French. He was born on a day like this in 1862 in Ghent, Belgium. The main themes in his work are death and the meaning of life. His plays form an important part of the Symbolist movement. Maeterlinck instantly became a public figure when his first play, "Princess Maleine", received enthusiastic praise from Octave Mirbeau, the literary critic of Le Figaro in August 1890. In the following years, he wrote a series of symbolist plays characterized by fatalism and mysticism, most importantly "Intruder" (1890), "The Blind" (1890) and "Pelléas and Mélisande" (1892). Singer and actress Georgette Leblanc influenced his work for the following two decades. With the play "Aglavaine and Sélysette" Maeterlinck began to create characters, especially female characters, more in control of their destinies. Leblanc performed these female characters on stage. Even though mysticism and metaphysics influenced his work throughout his career, he slowly replaced his Symbolism with a more existential style. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1911. Maeterlinck passed away on May 6, 1949, aged 86.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr.
Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., born on a day like this in 1809, was an American physician, poet, professor, lecturer, and author. Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Holmes was educated at Phillips Academy and Harvard College. After graduating from Harvard in 1829, he briefly studied law before turning to the medical profession. He began writing poetry at an early age; one of his most famous works, "Old Ironsides", was published in 1830 and was influential in the eventual preservation of the USS Constitution. Surrounded by Boston's literary elite—which included friends such as Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, and James Russell Lowell—Holmes made an indelible imprint on the literary world of the 19th century. Many of his works were published in The Atlantic Monthly, a magazine that he named. For his literary achievements and other accomplishments, he was awarded numerous honorary degrees from universities around the world. Holmes's writing often commemorated his native Boston area, and much of it was meant to be humorous or conversational. Some of his medical writings, notably his 1843 essay regarding the contagiousness of puerperal fever, were considered innovative for their time. He was often called upon to issue occasional poetry, or poems written specifically for an event, including many occasions at Harvard. Holmes also popularized several terms, including "Boston Brahmin" and "anesthesia". Regarded by his peers as one of the best writers of the 19th century, he is considered a member of the Fireside Poets. His most famous prose works are the "Breakfast-Table" series, which began with "The Autocrat of the Breakfast-Table" (1858). Holmes passed away on October 7, 1894, aged 85.
Herbert Meier was born on a day like this in 1928 in Solothurn. He is a Swiss writer and translator. Meier studied literature, history of art and philosophy at the universities of Basel, Vienna, Paris and Fribourg. Since 1955, Meier has been a freelance writer in Zurich. He won the Conrad-Ferdinand-Meyer-Preis in 1964. The main component of his work has been translating classical and modern theatre plays from French into German.
Karen Hesse, born on a day like this in 1952 in Baltimore, Maryland, is an American author of children's literature and literature for young adults, often with historical settings. She finished her undergraduate degree at the University of Maryland in English, Psychology, and Anthropology, during which she began writing poetry. After graduating, she took jobs in publishing, and started writing children's books. Her first novel was a rejected story about meeting Bigfoot, but her next proposal became the novel "Wish on a Unicorn". "Out of the Dust" is a story of a girl living through the dust bowl of the depression. She tackled a more disturbing subject in her book "Witness". Here, the newly invigorated Klan of the 1920s (in this book, 1924 and '25) tries to take over a small Vermont town. She has also won The Newbery Medal and the International Reading Association Award.
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