Literary History

Codex Gigas

This massive medieval manuscript, nicknamed "The Devil's Bible," contains multiple lengthy entries, a few shorter pieces, and several illustrations. Written by a single scribe, the Codex Gigas is often sensationalized in stories about its creation.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, Part 2

Edna St. Vincent Millay was the first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for poetry and was one of the Guggenheim Foundation's judges for its poetry fellowships. And she managed to make a great deal of money as a poet in the middle of the Great Depression. Read the show notes here.

Edna St. Vincent Millay, Part 1

Known as Vincent to family and friends, Edna St. Vincent Millay grew up poor, caring for the household and her sisters while her mother worked. From an early age, she showed incredible talent and sowed the seeds of a life of passion and impressive poetry. Read the show notes here.

Ambrose Bierce

Ambrose Bierce was a soldier, a journalist, an editor, a satirist and a philosopher. He was a complicated man with an unwavering moral code and a life of experiences both fantastic and horrific, which informed his writing. Read the show note for this episode here.

It's the Jane Austen Episode!

She was not a shy spinster who wrote some little books mostly to amuse her own family. She also was not a real-life Elizabeth Bennett. Jane Austen's life was very different from any of her heroines. Here's a link to our show notes.

The Long Winter

During the terrible winter of 1880 and 1881, which was immortalized in Laura Ingalls Wilder's "The Long Winter." Laura, both real and fictional, was going on fourteen. And the winter she wrote about was a real event.

Laura Ingalls Wilder

For many people, Laura Ingalls Wilder is the primary source of information of what life was like for white people on the American frontier. But she had a whole life as a novelist beyond the youth that unfolded in the books.

Audre Lorde Pt. 2

In addition to being a poet, Audre was a teacher, speaker, wife and mother, and become an influential presence in the feminist movement. She also wrote candidly about her battle with cancer in her groundbreaking work, "The Cancer Journals."

Audre Lorde Pt. 1

Audre Lorde called herself a "black feminist lesbian mother poet warrior," but for a lot of people, she's best known for the "poet" part. She was way ahead of her time on a lot of social fronts, including feminism, gay rights, and the sexual revolution.

Was there a real Sweeney Todd?

Sweeney Todd is a well-known fictional character, a murderous barber who colludes with a cook to bake his victims into pies. There are many instances of the demon barber story being touted as a tale based in real-life events, but how true is that?