Curiosities of Literature

Writing handCuriosities of Literature by John Sutherland is a feast for book and fact lovers. Here’s a few Who knews? I have handpicked for you:

  • Bovril was named from the word vril used by Bulwer-Lytton in his pioneer sci-fi text The Coming Race
  • There is a strong connection between asthma and genius
  • Ian Fleming has a gold plated Royal typewriter
  • The first writer to attract publicity  for writing using a computer was Desmond Bagley in the 70s. General ignorance was such that some people thought the computer wrote the books. Too much watching of 2001 perhaps.
  • The worst novelist ever might well be Amanda McKittrick Ros. Her novels were vanity published, with a bit of a alliteration fetish (novels included Delina Delaney and Helen Huddleston) and her books of poetry delightfully titled Fumes of Formation and Poems of Puncture.
  • A Void (La Disparition)Georges Perec wrote this 300 page ‘thriller’ without once using the letter ‘e’.  As Sutherland says, Well done Gorgs Prc.
  • Alexandre Dumas – drank up to 40 cups of super strength coffee a day. When that wasn’t enough he would eat coffee grounds raw.
  • The most popular novel in the American Civil War was Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.