August 31, 2017

Bad Houseguests, Clairvoyance & Literary Jocks: Fun Facts You Didn't Know About Famous Authors

Funny Author Facts
It's no secret that creative types have a penchant for idiosyncratic ideas and behaviors, but boy, do we have some doozies to share with you today! Check out these fascinating factoids about famous writers and thinkers of decades (and in some cases centuries) past.

1. Hans Christian Andersen: Danish literary giant and questionable houseguest.

Hans Christian Andersen is responsible for some truly classic literature, including the fairy tales 'The Ugly Duckling', 'The Little Mermaid', 'The Emperor's New Clothes', 'Thumbelina', and many others. You're welcome, Disney.

He was also a fan of Charles Dickens; the two writers became good friends during Andersen's first visit to England in 1847, and continued corresponding via letter over the next decade.

However, Andersen may have overstayed his welcome on his next visit in 1857. What was supposed to be a brief visit to Dickens' home was extended into a five-week stay that reportedly drove Dickens' family nuts, eventually requiring Dickens to explicitly ask Andersen to leave. Yikes — awkward much?

This precipitated the gradual end of their correspondence and thus their friendship, much to the confusion and dismay of Hans, who quite enjoyed the visit and never understood why his subsequent letters went unanswered. (Hint: it probably had something to do with not being able to read a room and GTFO after five weeks, bruh.)

2. Oscar Wilde: A stinging wit AND left-cross!

Although Oscar Wilde's place at the vanguard of the aesthete movement led to him often being regarded as foppish, he wasn't too bad in a brawl. He studied boxing at Magdalen College (Oxford), and during a scuffle he successfully fought off four of his classmates single-handedly when they attacked him.

3. Mark Twain: Clairvoyantly macabre. 


Mark Twain was born in 1835, shortly after a Halley's Comet appearance. Twain believed he would "go out with it, too," and in fact died the day after the comet returned 75 years later. Spooky scary!

4. Washington Irving: Patron saint of intellectual property and American colloquialisms.

Lest you think knocking off artists is 21st century internet problem, writer Washington Irving ( of 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow' fame) struggled against literary bootleggers in the 19th century. His writing was printed in periodicals without his permission during a time when international copyright law didn't yet exist. Irving became an advocate for strengthening copyright protections for artists — a man after our own hearts.

Irving also popularized the nickname "Gotham" for New York City, and is credited with inventing the expression "the almighty dollar".

5. Albert Camus: An absurdist (NOT existentialist) jock of many contrasts.

Albert Camus made his name as a titan of modern philosophy in the 20th century, but was surprisingly athletic in his youth. Camus was an avid soccer — ahem, football — fan and played as goalkeeper for the Racing Universitaire d'Alger until contracting tuberculosis at 17. 

Despite being a pacifist, he joined the French Resistance during WWII, writing for and publishing a revolutionary paper called Combat for a resistance cell of the same name.

Generally speaking, Camus hated labels and ideologies. He was left-leaning and joined the French Communist Party, but eventually left after becoming disillusioned with the USSR's (in his mind) perversion of communist theory — a defection that resulted in the dissolution of his friendship with Jean-Paul Sarte. However, Camus equally loathed American capitalism.

This contrariness wasn't limited to the physical realm; Albert also refused to be pigeonholed by any religious orthodoxy. Referring to himself as an agnostic, he wrote "I do not believe in God and I am not an atheist." Whatever you say, Al (can I call you Al?) — you do you.

For some choice quotes from the above writers, check out some of our literary designs:

Hell is Other People

Loyalty to Country Always Loyalty to Government When It Deserves It

That's it for this week! We'll be announcing the final total for our fundraising effort benefiting in Charlottesville tomorrow afternoon on our Facebook page, but as of this writing we've raised over $2,000.00 thanks to your purchases!

To our friends, fans, and customers in the gulf coast region that have had your lives turned upside down by Harvey over this last week: our thoughts are with you. Those of you in or around Crosby, Texas in particular — stay safe.

Peace, love, and tacos,