Posts Under Tag: Dead People

Joseph Heller

Read Biography of Joseph Heller Joseph Heller was born on May 1, 1923 in Brooklyn, New York & died on December 12, 1999 in East Hampton, New York, was an American satirical novelist, short story writer and playwright. He wrote the influential novel Catch-22 about American servicemen during World War II. The title of this work entered the English lexicon to refer to absurd, no-win choices, particularly in situations in which the desired outcome of the choice is an impossibility, and regardless of choice, the same negative outcome is a certainty. Heller is widely regarded as one of the best post–World War II satirists. Although he is remembered primarily for Catch-22, his other works center on the lives of various members of the middle class and remain exemplars of modern satire.

Joseph Heller was born in Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York, the son of poor Jewish parents, Lena and Isaac Donald Heller, from Russia. Even as a child, he loved to write; as a teenager, he wrote a story about the Russian invasion of Finland and sent it to New York Daily News, which rejected it. At least one scholar suggests that he knew that he wanted to become a writer, after recalling that he received a children’s version of the Iliad when he was ten. After graduating from Abraham Lincoln High School in 1941, Heller spent the next year working as a blacksmith’s apprentice, a messenger boy, and a filing clerk. In 1942, at age 19, he joined the U.S. Army Air Corps. Two years later he was sent to Italian Front, where he flew 60 combat missions as a B-25 bombardier. His Unit was the 488th Bombardment Squadron, 340th Bomb Group, 12th Air Force. Heller later remembered the war as “fun in the beginning… You got the feeling that there was something glorious about it.” On his return home he “felt like a hero… People think it quite remarkable that I was in combat in an airplane and I flew sixty missions even though I tell them that the missions were largely milk runs.”(“Milk Runs” were combat missions, but mostly uneventful due to a lack of intense opposition from enemy anti-aircraft artillery or fighters.)

After the war, Heller studied English at the University of Southern California and NYU on the G.I. Bill. In 1949, he received his M.A. in English from Columbia University. Following his graduation, he spent a year as a Fulbright scholar at St. Catherine’s College in Oxford University. After returning home, he taught composition at Pennsylvania State University for two years. He also taught fiction and dramatic writing at Yale. He then briefly worked for Time, Inc., before taking a job as a copywriter at a small advertising agency, where he worked alongside future novelist Mary Higgins Clark. At home, Heller would write. He was first published in 1948, when The Atlantic ran one of his short stories. That first story nearly won the “Atlantic First.”

He was married to Shirley Held from 1945–1981 and they had two children, Erica (born 1952) and Ted (born 1956).

In the 1970s Heller taught creative writing at the City College of New York. After the publication of Catch-22, Heller resumed a part-time academic career as a teacher of creative writing at Yale University and at the University of Pennsylvania.

On Sunday, December 13, 1981, Heller was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome, a debilitating syndrome that was to leave him temporarily paralyzed. He was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit of Mount Sinai Medical Hospital the same day (Heller 1986, pp. 23–34), and remained there, bedridden, until his condition had improved enough to permit his transfer to the Rusk Institute of Rehabilitation Medicine, which occurred on January 26, 1982 (Heller 1986, pp. 170–174). His illness and recovery are recounted at great length in the autobiographical No Laughing Matter (Heller 1986), which contains alternating chapters by Heller and his good friend Speed Vogel. The book reveals the assistance and companionship Heller received during this period from a number of his prominent friends—Mel Brooks, Mario Puzo, Dustin Hoffman and George Mandel among them.

Heller eventually made a substantial recovery. In 1984, while in the process of divorcing his wife of 35 years, he met Valerie Humphries, the nurse who had helped him to recover, and later married her.

Heller returned to St. Catherine’s as a visiting Fellow, for a term, in 1991 and was appointed an Honorary Fellow of the college. In 1998, he released a memoir, Now and Then: From Coney Island to Here, in which he relived his childhood as the son of a deliveryman and offered some details about the inspirations for Catch-22.

He died of a heart attack at his home in East Hampton, on Long Island, in December 1999, shortly after the completion of his final novel, Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man. On hearing of Heller’s death, his friend Kurt Vonnegut said, “Oh, God, how terrible. This is a calamity for American letters.”

In April 1998, Lewis Pollock wrote to The Sunday Times for clarification as to “the amazing similarity of characters, personality traits, eccentricities, physical descriptions, personnel injuries and incidents” in Catch-22 and a novel published in England in 1951. The book that spawned the request was written by Louis Falstein and titled The Sky is a Lonely Place in Britain and Face of a Hero in the United States. Falstein’s novel was available two years before Heller wrote the first chapter of Catch-22 (1953) while he was a student at Oxford. The Times stated: “Both have central characters who are using their wits to escape the aerial carnage; both are haunted by an omnipresent injured airman, invisible inside a white body cast”. Stating he had never read Falstein’s novel, or heard of him, Heller said: “My book came out in 1961 I find it funny that nobody else has noticed any similarities, including Falstein himself, who died just last year” (The Washington Post, April 27, 1998).

Tags: , , , , Filled Under: Biographies Posted on: May 1, 2011

Anthony Trollope

Read Biography of Anthony Trollope Anthony Trollope was born on 24 April 1815 in London, United Kingdom & died on 6 December 1882 in London, United Kingdom, was one of the most successful, prolific and respected English novelists of the Victorian era. Some of his best-loved works, collectively known as the Chronicles of Barsetshire, revolve around the imaginary county of Barsetshire. He also wrote penetrating novels on political, social, and gender issues, and on other topical conflicts of his day.

Anthony Trollope’s father, Thomas Anthony Trollope, worked as a barrister. Thomas Trollope, though a clever and well-educated man and a Fellow of New College, Oxford, failed at the bar due to his bad temper. In addition, his ventures into farming proved unprofitable and he lost an expected inheritance when an elderly uncle married and had children. Nonetheless, he came from a genteel background, with connections to the landed gentry, and so wished to educate his sons as gentlemen and for them to attend Oxford or Cambridge. The disparity between his family’s social background and its poverty would be the cause of much misery to Anthony Trollope during his boyhood.

Trollope has always been a popular novelist. Noted fans have included Sir Alec Guinness (who never travelled without a Trollope novel), former British Prime Ministers Harold Macmillan and Sir John Major, economist John Kenneth Galbraith, American novelists Sue Grafton and Dominick Dunne and soap opera writer Harding Lemay. Trollope’s literary reputation dipped somewhat during the last years of his life, but he regained the esteem of critics by the mid-twentieth century.

n 1841, an opportunity to escape offered itself. A postal surveyor’s clerk in central Ireland was reported as being incompetent and in need of replacement. The position was not regarded as a desirable one at all; but Trollope, in debt and in trouble at his office, volunteered for it; and his supervisor, William Maberly, eager to be rid of him, appointed him to the position.

In 1851, Trollope was sent to England, charged with investigating and reorganizing rural mail delivery in a portion of the country. The two-year mission took him over much of Great Britain, often on horseback. Trollope describes this time as “two of the happiest years of my life”. In the course of it, he visited Salisbury Cathedral; and there, according to his autobiography, he conceived the plot of The Warden, which became the first of the six Barsetshire novels. His postal work delayed the beginning of writing for a year; the novel was published in 1855, in an edition of 1000 copies, with Trollope receiving half of the profits: £9 8s. 8d. in 1855, and £10 15s. 1d. in 1856. Although the profits were not large, the book received notices in the press, and brought Trollope to the attention of the novel-reading public.

He immediately began work on Barchester Towers, the second Barsetshire novel; upon its publication in 1857, he received an advance payment of £100 against his share of the profits. Like The Warden, Barchester Towers did not obtain large sales, but it helped to establish Trollope’s reputation. In his autobiography, Trollope writes, “It achieved no great reputation, but it was one of the novels which novel readers were called upon to read.” For the following novel, The Three Clerks, he was able to sell the copyright for a lump sum of £250; he preferred this to waiting for a share of future profits.

Trollope had long dreamt of taking a seat in the House of Commons. As a civil servant, however, he was ineligible for such a position. His resignation from the Post Office removed this disability, and he almost immediately began seeking a seat for which he might run. In 1868, he agreed to stand as a Liberal candidate in the borough of Beverley, in the East Riding of Yorkshire.

Party leaders apparently took advantage of Trollope’s eagerness to run and willingness to spend money on a campaign. Beverley had a long history of vote-buying and of intimidation by employers and others. Every election since 1857 had been followed by a petition alleging corruption, and it was estimated that 300 of the 1100 voters in 1868 would sell their votes. The task of a Liberal candidate was not to win the election, but to give the Conservative candidates an opportunity to display overt corruption, which could then be used to disqualify them.

Trollope described his period of campaigning in Beverley as “the most wretched fortnight of my manhood”. He spent a total of £400 on his campaign. The election was held November 17, 1868; the novelist finished last of four candidates, with the victory going to the two Conservatives. A petition was filed, and a Royal Commission investigated the circumstances of the election; its findings of extensive and widespread corruption drew nationwide attention, and led to the disfranchisement of the borough in 1870. The fictional Percycross election in Ralph the Heir is closely based on the Beverley campaign.

After the Beverley loss, Trollope concentrated entirely on his literary career. While continuing to produce novels rapidly, he also edited the St Paul’s Magazine, which published several of his novels in serial form.

In 1871, Trollope made his first trip to Australia, arriving in Melbourne in July, with his wife and their cook. The trip was made to visit their younger son, Frederic, who was a sheep farmer near Grenfell, New South Wales. He wrote his novel Lady Anna during the voyage. In Australia, he spent a year and two days “descending mines, mixing with shearers and rouseabouts, riding his horse into the loneliness of the bush, touring lunatic asylums, and exploring coast and plain by steamer and stagecoach”. Despite this, the Australian press was uneasy, fearing he would misrepresent Australia in his writings. This fear was based on rather negative writings about America by his mother, Fanny, and by Charles Dickens. On his return Trollope published a book, Australia and New Zealand (1873). It contained both positive and negative comments. On the positive side it included finding a comparative absence of class consciousness, and praising aspects of Perth, Melbourne, Hobart and Sydney. However, he was negative about Adelaide’s river, the towns of Bendigo and Ballarat, and the Aboriginal people. What most angered the Australian papers, though, were his comments “accusing Australians of being braggarts”.

Trollope returned to Australia in 1875 to help his son close down his failed farming business. He found that the resentment created by his accusations of bragging remained. Even when he died in 1882, Australian papers still “smouldered”, referring yet again to these accusations, and refusing to fully praise or recognise his achievements.

In 1880, Trollope moved to the village of South Harting in West Sussex. He died in London in 1882, and is buried in Kensal Green Cemetery, near the grave of his contemporary Wilkie Collins.

Tags: , , , Filled Under: Biographies Posted on: April 24, 2011

Edmund Cartwright

Read Biography of Edmund Cartwright Edward (Edmund) Cartwright was born on 24 April 1743 in Nottinghamshire & died on 30 October 1823 in Hastings, Sussex, was an English clergyman and inventor of the power loom.

Cartwright was taught at Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Wakefield and University College, Oxford and became a clergyman of the Church of England. Cartwright began his career as a clergyman, becoming, in 1779, rector of Goadby Marwood, Leicestershire; in 1783 he was a prebendary in Lincoln (Lincolnshire) cathedral.

He addressed the problem of mechanical weaving. Mechanical spinning and the factory system, were already in place. He designed his first power loom in 1784 and patented it in 1785, but it proved to be valueless. In 1789, he patented another loom which served as the model for later inventors to work upon. For a mechanically driven loom to become a commercial success, either one person would have to attend one machine, or each machine must have a greater productive capacity than one manually controlled. An old man named Zach Dijkhoff assisted him in his work with creating this contraption.

He added parts to his loom, namely a positive let-off motion, warp and weft stop motions, and sizing the warp while the loom was in action. He commenced to manufacture fabrics in Doncaster using these looms, and discovered many of their shortcomings. He attempted to remedy these by: introducing a crank and eccentric wheels to actuate its batten differentially; by improving its dicking mechanism; by a device for stopping the loom when a shuttle failed to enter a shuttle box; by preventing a shuttle from rebounding when in a box; and by stretching the cloth with temples that acted automatically. His mill was repossessed by creditors in 1793.

In 1792 Dr Cartwright obtained his last patent for weaving machinery; this provided is loom with multiple shuttle boxes for weaving checks and cross stripes. But all his efforts were unavailing; it became apparent that no mechanism, however perfect, could succeed so long as warps continued to be sized while a loom was stationary. His plans for sizing them while a loom was in operation, and before being placed in a loom, failed. These were resolved in 1803, by William Radcliffe, and his assistant Thomas Johnson, by their inventions of the beam warper, and his dressing sizing machine.

In 1790 Robert Grimshaw, of Gorton Manchester, erected a weaving factory at Knott Mill which he was to fill with 500 of Cartwright’s power looms, but with only 30 in place, the factory was burnt down probably as an act of arson inspired by the fears of hand loom weavers. The prospect of success was not sufficiently promising to induce its re-erection.

In 1809 Cartwright obtained a grant of £10,000 from parliament for his invention. In May 1821 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society.

He also patented a wool combing machine in 1789 and a cordelier (machine for making rope) in 1792. He also designed a steam engine that used alcohol instead of water.

He died in Hastings, Sussex and was buried at Battle.

His daughter Elizabeth (1780–1837) married the Reverend John Penrose and wrote books under the pseudonym of Mrs Markham.

Tags: , , , Filled Under: Biographies Posted on: April 24, 2011

Nathaniel Hone the Elder

Read Biography of Nathaniel Hone the Elder Nathaniel Hone was born on 24 April 1718 & died on 14 August 1784, was an Irish-born portrait and miniature painter, and one of the founder members of the Royal Academy in 1768.

The son of a Dublin-based Dutch merchant, Hone moved to England as a young man and, after marrying in 1742, eventually settled in London, by which time he had acquired a reputation as a portrait-painter. While his paintings were popular, his reputation was particularly enhanced by his skill at producing miniatures and enamels. He interrupted his time in London by spending two years (1750-1752) studying in Italy.

As a portrait painter, several of his works are now held at the National Portrait Gallery in London. His sitters included magistrate Sir John Fielding and Methodist preacher John Wesley, and General Richard Wilford and Sir Levett Hanson in a double portrait.

He courted controversy in 1775 when his satirical picture “The Conjurer” was seen to attack the fashion for Italian Renaissance art and to ridicule Sir Joshua Reynolds (it also included a nude caricature of fellow Academician Angelica Kauffmann, later painted out by Hone), and was rejected by the Royal Academy. To show his reputation was undamaged, Hone organised a one-man retrospective in London – the first such solo exhibition of an artist’s work.

His great-grand-nephew shared the same name and was also a notable Irish painter, known as Nathaniel Hone the Younger (1831-1917).

Tags: , , , , Filled Under: Biographies Posted on: April 24, 2011

Giovanni Battista Martini

Read Biography of Giovanni Battista Martini Giovanni Battista Martini was born on 24 April 1706 in Bologna & died on 3 August 1784, also known as Padre Martini, was an Italian musician.

His father, Antonio Maria Martini, a violinist, taught him the elements of music and the violin; later he learned singing and harpsichord playing from Padre Pradieri, and counterpoint from Antonio Riccieri and Giacomo Antonio Perti. Having received his education in classics from the fathers of the oratory of San Filippo Neri, he afterwards entered upon a noviciate at the Franciscan monastery at Lago, at the close of which he was received as a Minorite on September 11, 1722.

In 1725, though only nineteen years old, he received the appointment of chapel-master in the Franciscan church at Bologna, where his compositions attracted attention. At the invitation of amateurs and professional friends he opened a school of composition at which several celebrated musicians were trained; as a teacher he consistently declared his preference for the traditions of the old Roman school of composition. Padre Martini was a zealous collector of musical literature, and possessed an extensive musical library. Burney estimated it at 17,000 volumes; after Martini’s death a portion of it passed to the Imperial library at Vienna, the rest remaining in Bologna, now in the Museo Internazionale della Musica (ex Civico Museo Bibliografico Musicale).

Most contemporary musicians speak of Martini with admiration, and Leopold Mozart consulted him with regard to the talents of his son, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. Abt Vogler, however, makes reservations in his praise, condemning his philosophical principles as too much in sympathy with those of Fux, which had already been expressed by P. Vallotti. His Elogio was published by Pietro della Valle at Bologna in the same year.

In 1758 he was invited to teach at the Accademia Filarmonica di Bologna.

Among Martini’s pupils: the Belgian André Ernest Modeste Grétry, the Bohemian Josef Myslive?ek, the Ukrainian/Russian Maksym Berezovsky, Stanislao Mattei, the young Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Johann Christian Bach and the famous Italian cellist Giovanni Battista Cirri.

The greater number of Martini’s sacred compositions remain unprinted. The Liceo of Bologna possesses the manuscripts of two oratorios; and a requiem, with some other pieces of church music, are now in Vienna. Litaniae atque antiphonae finales B. V. Mariae were published at Bologna in 1734, as also twelve Sonate d’intavolalura; six Sonate per l’organo ed il cembalo in 1747; and Duetti da camera in 1763. Martini’s most important works are his Storia della musica (Bologna, 1757–1781) and his Esemplare di contrappunto (Bologna, 1774–1775). The former, of which the three published volumes relate wholly to ancient music, and thus represent a mere fragment of the author’s vast plan, exhibits immense reading and industry, but is written in a dry and unattractive style, and is overloaded with matter which cannot be regarded as historical. At the beginning and end of each chapter occur puzzle-canons, wherein the primary part or parts alone are given, and the reader has to discover the canon that fixes the period and the interval at which the response is to enter. Some of these are exceedingly difficult, but all were solved by Luigi Cherubini.

The Esemplare is a learned and valuable work, containing an important collection of examples from the best masters of the old Italian and Spanish schools, with excellent explanatory notes. It treats chiefly of the tonalities of the plain chant, and of counterpoints constructed upon them. Besides being the author of several controversial works, Martini drew up a Dictionary of Ancient Musical Terms, which appeared in the second volume of GB Doni’s Works; he also published a treatise on The Theory of Numbers as Applied to Music. His celebrated canons, published in London, about 1800, edited by Pio Cianchettini, show him to have had a strong sense of musical humour.

Professor Peter Schickele, in his satirical “study” of the life of the fictitious P.D.Q. Bach has “found” that P.D.Q. Bach’s second phase of life, the soused period, was shaped in part by Padre Martini (and further by his association with Thomas Collins).

Tags: , , , , , Filled Under: Biographies Posted on: April 24, 2011