Separated at Birth: Percy Bysshe Shelley and Susanna Moodie

Percy Bysshe Shelley 1792-1822.

Susanna Moodie 1803-1885.

Okay, so the birth dates are off, but only by 11 years, making Percy a year or two too young to father anyone. Don’t think he ever made it over to Canada, but stay tuned for more details on Moodie, chronicler of the quintessential Canadian experience, and her connection to Peterborough and the Kawarthas. Susanna was born in Bungay in Suffolk, England, the youngest sister in a family of writers  that included Agnes Strickland, Jane Margaret Strickland and Catharine Parr TraillShe wrote her first children’s book in 1822, the year Percy Shelley drowned in a sudden storm while sailing in Italy.  Susanna was later involved in the Anti-Slavery Society, transcribing the narrative of former Caribbean slave Mary Prince.

Literary South Africa

Some years ago I visited my brother in Cape Town. He put together the most amazing itinerary: the ‘big five’ in Kruger National Park, then, closer to town, lounging on the beach and watching the cold surf in Kleinmond; seafood on the sea shore in Hermanus, wine and escargot for the price back home of burgers and coke, in Franschhoek; Table mountain, flowers and weddings in the Company Gardens, and hiking up Lion’s Head. This however is not what I am to him most grateful for.

Rather, it’s the tireless manner in which he drove me to every bookstore I could find in the country, and his patient waiting as I pored fiendishly over miles of shelves full of new and used books. After which, I can happily report that Cape Town and environs is home not only to the world’s Continue reading “Literary South Africa”

How to be a Literary Tourist

The literary tourist is a multi-colored bird. One species likes to visit places that help get them closer to characters or places found in novels. Another plays the pilgrim, paying respects to admired authors – contemplating in front of gravestones, touring childhood homes and museums, walking footpaths that inspired favorite poems. Others pay little mind to literary content – it’s the casing, the container that speaks to them. They haunt rare book libraries and (if the acquisitive type), antiquarian bookstores, thrilling to the touch of leather, the feel of letterpress printed pages, the look of woodcut illustrations. Many of these book-loving travelers also love Shakespeare, and good theatre. They seek out live stage performances.

As with other genuses, the literary tourist typically looks first for Continue reading “How to be a Literary Tourist”