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Posts Tagged ‘Sarah Josepha Hale’

And Everywhere That Mary Went

December 6, 2012 | by

On December 6, 1877, Thomas Edison made one of the first recordings of the human voice, a phonograph recording of “Mary Had a Little Lamb.” Below, Edison recites the nursery rhyme.

This was not Mary’s sole claim to fame. The nursery rhyme, written by Sarah Josepha Hale and published in Boston in 1830, was inspired by the story of a young girl named Mary Sawyer, who had an inseparable pet lamb. The tune was added shortly thereafter. To this day, a statue of Mary and her lamb stands in the town center of Sterling, Massachusetts.

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Burning Books, Listening to Just Kids, Casting Fleming

May 22, 2012 | by

  • For those with Spotify, all the songs mentioned in Just Kids, in playlist form. (Perfect for a rainy day!)
  • Duncan Jones has signed on to direct a biopic of Ian Fleming, based on Andrew Lycett’s The Man Behind James Bond. Everyone knows the man himself okayed Sean Connery to play 007, but who should fill the enigmatic writer-spy’s shoes?
  • A letter from Edgar Allan Poe to Sarah Josepha Hale, author of the poem “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” has sold at auction for $164,000. In it, Poe refuses an offer to publish in Hale’s magazine, explaining, “To send you a crude or hastily written article would be injurious to me, and an insult to yourself—and I fear that I could, at present, do little more.”
  • William Peter Blatty, better known as the author of The Exorcist, is suing Georgetown University in church court, disputing his alma mater’s right to still call themselves Catholic given some of its secular policies.
  • “Frat boys burning textbooks to celebrate graduation burn down frat house.”
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    Hale and Hearty

    November 23, 2011 | by

    Among the many things for which I will give thanks this Thursday, foremost is the fact that I am not in charge of Thanksgiving dinner. Instead I’ll be helping my mother in her kitchen, as she helped me in mine last year. It isn’t that I dislike cooking, or even that I feed a real crowd; I cook every day, usually with pleasure, and we don’t pull many extra chairs up to the table for the holiday. But sometime after the second pie has been baked and the turkey is in the oven and half the vegetables are ready but there is still so much to make, and the table not even set, I just want to sneak away without finishing up.

    How great a disappointment I would have been to Sarah Josepha Hale, the woman who led the campaign to make Thanksgiving a national holiday. When Hale was thirty-four and the year was 1822, her husband died, leaving her with five children. Did she allow despair to overcome her stout Yankee heart? Never! She supported her family with that reliable moneymaker, poesy, before publishing a best-selling novel, and eventually going on to become the editor of the most influential women’s magazine in America. Read More »

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    Making ‘Of Lamb’

    July 6, 2011 | by

    In 1796, at the age of thirty-two, Mary Lamb had an attack of madness and killed her mother and wounded her father with a knife. She was institutionalized for three years until the death of her father, when, at the behest of her younger brother, Charles, she was brought to live with him. Charles Lamb was a clerk at the East India Company and a well-regarded essayist, and he remained Mary’s caretaker and companion for the rest of their lives. The Lamb siblings were part of a literary circle that included Samuel Taylor Coleridge, the Wordsworths, William Hazlitt, and Mary Shelley, and they are the subject of the biography A Portrait of Charles Lamb by David Cecil.

    Their story is also at the heart of a strange new illustrated poem that was published as a book by McSweeney’s this month. Of Lamb is a collaborative project between poet Matthea Harvey and artist Amy Jean Porter. Harvey was fascinated by the process of erasures after seeing Tom Phillips’s A Humument and Jen Bervin’s Nets and decided to do one herself with the first book she could find for three dollars. “I picked up A Portrait of Charles Lamb completely randomly,” Harvey told me. “When I discovered that Mary and Lamb were on each page, a story in poems started to emerge.” There are echoes of Sarah Josepha Hale’s famous nineteenth-century rhyme “Mary Had a Little Lamb,” which tells the story of a young girl named Mary Sawyer who brings her pet lamb to school. But there are also weirder, more fascinating moments, too: “Nerves his family / Trouble his home / Dark spirits his company.”

    Below are a few slides of Harvey’s erasures and the illustrations by Porter. Porter says she was “thinking of an illustrative tradition of a nineteenth-century British variety—Edward Lear, Beatrix Potter, Eleanor Vere Boyle” but also cites brass chandeliers, water towers, and artists such as Balthus and Gabriel Orozco as inspiration. Click to enlarge.

    Join Harvey and Porter tomorrow, on July 7, at P.P.O.W. Gallery at 7:00 P.M. at 535 West 22nd Street, in New York, for a reading from Of Lamb.

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