May Literary Birthdays

Got your May Pole ready?  Or will you be leaving little May baskets at your neighbor’s door secretly?

It’s time to think about birthdays again—first of the month.  This month we have a fine list of authors  and I think I will feature three of them before giving you the calendar honor roll.

J.M. Barrie –author of Peter Pan–can lead the honors.  I have a very old (1911) copy of Peter Pan and Wendy—remember the rooster garage sale?   That’s where I got it.

Peter Pan and Wendy by J.M.Barrie ©booksandbuttons

The pages inside have been illustrated in pencil by some naughty little child—I suspect Buddy McLean whose name is also printed on an early page . . .
Tch! Tch!

I like the illustrations by Maude Lucie Attwell better—here are two:

“They don’t want us to land.” Peter Pan and Wendy. Illustration by
Maude Lucie Attwell 1911 ©booksandbuttons

“The Never Bird” Peter Pan and Wendy. Illustration by Maude Lucie
Attwell 1911 ©booksandbuttons

Secret: I have never read Peter Pan.  I think I’ll put it on my summer reading list which I am building . . .

Next author of honor is Frank Baum—-author of The Wizard of Oz.  I want to tell you about this astounding copy I have which won the 2009 British Book Design and Production Award and also the Best Trade Illustrated Book Award.  The illustrator is Graham Rawle.  I wish I knew if he was also born in May, but all I could find out was that he was born in 1955.  He’s British, and I think his work is fascinating.  This “Dorothy” has a doll’s head attached to an action figure body—-and somehow he has made it work for me.  The illustrations are ingenious—all created in his studio from “stuff” he has hoarded over the years or bought at flea markets.   (I recognize the symptoms.)

Please try to find a copy —–what a trip—and I don’t just mean Dorothy’s.

The Wizard of Oz 2009 by Frank Baum. Illustrated by Graham Rawle.
©booksand buttons

Did you click on photo to enlarge?

Lastly, a true honoré————-Honoré de Balzac.  Here’s a man you might pass on the street without a howdy-doo.  But it’s Balzac, all right:

Honoré de Balzac– 19th C novelist

I have read Pere Goriot (twice), Eugenie Grandet, and Cousin Bette.  He wrote over 91 novels.  When did he find the time you ask?

Well, we all have 24 hours a day, don’t we?  But this was Balzac’s schedule:

Rise at midnight, work for eight hours, spend fifteen minutes eating a meal, work again until five in the afternoon, dine, then sleep for six hours.*

Ha! he was no slouch!

Here are the May Birthdays—happy birthday to all–

May 3                                           May Sarton (I suppose they named her May because . . .)
William Inge  (Picnic)
May 6                                           Sigmund Freud
May 7                                           Robert Browning
May 9                                           J.M. Barrie

May 12                                         Edward Lear (Limericks);  Dante Gabriel Rossetti
May 13                                         Daphne du Maurier
May 15                                         Frank Baum;  Katherine Anne Porter
May 19                                         Lorraine Hansberry (A Raisin in the Sun)
May 20                                        Margery Allingham; Honoré de Balzac

May 21                                        Alexander Pope
May 22                                       Arthur Conan Doyle
May 25                                       Ralph Waldo Emerson; Raymond Carver
May 27                                       Arnold Bennett; Rachel Carson; Dashiell Hammett; John Cheever

May 28                                      Ian Fleming
May 29                                      G.K. Chesterton
May 31                                       Walt Whitman

What a party!

*Balzac schedule from “Paris Portraits Renoir to Chanel” by Mary Ellen Jordan Haight

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