MARCH LITERARY BIRTHDAYS

(Complete list of March authors here.)

Featured Authors


Henrik Ibsen, Norwegian playwright (20 March 1828 - 23 May 1906)

Ibsen, born in Skien, Norway, wrote his first plays in 1850: Catiline and The Burial Mound. From 1857 to 1864 he was artistic director of the new Norske Theatre, the Bergen Theatre, and the Christiania Theatre. He married Suzannah Thoresen in 1858 and they had one son. After 1864, Ibsen exiled himself from Norway, returning home intermittently, for 27 years, living in Rome, Munich, Dresden; these are the cities where he wrote most of his best-known works, among them Brand (1866), Peer Gynt (1867), Pillars of Society (1877), A Doll?s House (1879), Ghosts (1881), An Enemy of the People (1882), The Wild Duck (1884), and Hedda Gabler (1890). Ibsen suffered a stroke in 1900 that put an end to his writing, and when he died in 1903 he was accorded a state funeral in Norway. His reported last words were "To the contrary."

HTML texts of Peer Gynt, The Wild Duck, and A Doll's House are all available online. There's a long essay on Ibsen's life and writing, including thoughts on the psychology of Ibsen, written by a professor at the Univ. of Oslo; a chronology of Ibsen's life through Ibsen.net; a short bio of Ibsen through Finland's Kuusankoski Public Library; and a an Ibsen bibliography (in Norwegian), with plays, poems, and letters listed, again through the Centre for Ibsen Studies

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A[lfred] E[dward] Housman, English poet (26 March 1859 - 30 April 1936)

Housman was born in Worcestershire, England and worked in a patent office after failing final exams at college in 1881. He spent free time studying the classics and in 1892 became a professor of Latin. His first book of poems, A Shropshire Lad (1896) made him famous, but later books were not published for over 20 more years, including Last Poems (1922), More Poems (1936), and Collected Poems (1939). Housman's poetic influences were Shakespeare, Scottish ballads, and Heine. In addition to his poetry, Housman also published editions of Juvenal (1905), Lucan (1926), and Manilus (1903-31), which were widely respected. There is short bio of Housman and links to some poems through the Academy of American Poets Housman exhibit.

Housman's poems are available through the Univ. of Toronto, and the full e-text of A Shropshire Lad is also available online.

Robert P. Tristram Coffin, Maine poet and reporter (18 Mar 1892 - 1955)

Born in Brunswick, a 1915 graduate of Bowdoin, and later a professor there (1934-1955), essayist, poet, and novelist Coffin won the 1936 Pulitzer Prize in poetry for Strange Holiness. The Bowdoin Special Collections Library gives detailed information about the almost 50 linear feet of manuscripts, drafts, proofs, notes, personal records, lectures, plays, poems, books, recordings, and photographs that it holds.

Two biographical pages are found on the Bowdoin Special Collections page on Coffin and from the Milne Special Collections page on Coffin at the Univ. of New Hampshire.

Coffin's works include:

Poetry: Christchurch (1924), Dew & Bronze (1927), Golden Falcon (1929), The Yoke of Thunder (1932), Ballads of Square-Toed Americans (1933), Strange Holiness (1935; won Pulitzer), Fifteen Girls on a Hobby Horse (1937; collection of short stories and poems), Saltwater Farm (1937), Maine Ballads (1938), There Will Be Bread and Love (1942), Primer for America (1943), Poem for a Son with Wings (1945), Apples By Ocean (1945/1950), People Behave Like Ballads (1946), Collected Poems (1948), One-Horse Farm: Down East Georgics (1949), The Third Hunger and the Poem Aloud (1949), Poems That Write the Poet (1953; poetic text of a lecture at Haverford College, given 1898), Hellas Revisted (1954), Selected Poems (1955).

Essays: Book of Crowns and Cottages (1925), An Attic Room (1929), New Poetry of New England: Frost & Robinson (1938; lectures), The Substance That Is Poetry (1942), Book of Uncles (1944), Maine Doings: Informal Essays (1950), On the Green Carpet (1951), Mainstays of Maine (1944/1978; cookery), Maine Cooking: Old-Time Secrets (1991?, essays on food; maybe a republication of Mainstays?).

Novels: Red Sky in the Morning (1935), John Dawn (1936), and Thomas, Thomas -- Ancil Thomas (1941).

Biographies and other Non-Fiction: A Book of Seventeenth-Century Prose (1929; co-edited), Laud: Storm Center of Stuart England (1930), The Dukes of Buckingham (1931), Lost Paradise: A Boyhood on a Maine Coast Farm (1934; based on recollections of childhood spent on Pond Island), Portrait of an American (1935; about his father), Kennebec: Cradle of Americans (1937/1965), Captain Abby and Captain John (1939; about The Pennells of Brunswick), Yankee Coast (1947), Christmas in Maine (1948), Do You Know Maine? (1948), Coast Calendar (1949), Life in America: New England (1951).

[Victoria Mary] Vita Sackville-West, British novelist and poet (9 March 1892 - 2 June 1962 )

Sackville-West was born in Kent, England, a place she always loved and returned to. She led an unusual life, married in 1913 to Harold Nicholson, a diplomat and politician. Their marriage was purportedly a happy one, although each was bisexual and had affairs outside the marriage, Vita's most notably with Violet Keppel Trefusis and Virginia Woolf. The couple had two sons, Benedict and Nigel; Nigel Nicholson wrote a book (Portrait of a Marriage) about his parent's unorthodox marriage in 1973.

Sackville-West was a prolific writer, beginning as a teenager and publishing her first book, Chatterton, a verse drama, when she was 17. She published about 50 books in all, including non-fiction, novels, and poetry. She won the Hawthornden Prize for her long poem "The Land" in 1927. Sackville-West also wrote a weekly gardening column for the Observer newspaper for years.

The Vita Sackville-West page at the University of Southern California-Fullerton Library offers a short background and a lengthy bibliography. More biography is available through Finland's Kuusankoski Public Library. The Spartacus Internet Encyclopedia features a painting of Sackville-West. In 1913, the Nicholsons bought Sissinghurst Castle and with Vita as plantsman and Harold as designer, they created a garden that is still one of the most important and well-known in the world.

[Jean Louis] Jack Kerouac, American beat writer (12 March 1922 - 21 October 1969)

Born in Lowell, Mass. (other birthdates listed as 3/11 and 3/13), Kerouac published his first novel in 1950, titled The Town and the City. He was strongly influenced in his writing by the beat generation writers Burroughs and Ginsberg. His best-known work, On the Road (1957) was inspired by cross-country trips taken while under the influence of drugs/drink, as Kerouac was purported to be for most of his life. His novel The Dharma Bums (1958), which describes a mountain climbing trip he and poet Gary Snyder took in Yosemite, contributed to popularising Zen Buddhism as a philosophy for bohemian artists in the U.S. In all, Kerouac published over 20 books. He died of an abdominal hemorrhage while living in St. Petersburg, Fla. with his mother and his third wife, Stella Sampas.

The Literary Kicks site for Kerouac has a long and interesting biography, bibliographies, and a photo. There's a one-page Kerouac bio available through Finland's Kuusankoski Public Library.


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