Literary History

The Fantastic Fitzgeralds

A week after releasing his debut novel, F. Scott Fitzgerald married Southern Belle Zelda Sayre. But Fitzgerald's drinking and Zelda's mental state led to fights, debt and writers' block. Join Sarah and Holly as they trace the lives of F. Scott and Zelda.

The Mysterious Disappearance of Agatha Christie

In December of 1926, Agatha Christie left her home and vanished: Police found her car crashed and abandoned. An 11-day manhunt commenced and speculation ran rampant -- but when she was finally found - alive - there were more questions than answers.

After John James Audubon finished his book, he sought out a publisher. While his image turned off Philadelphia's intellectuals, he charmed Great Britain. In this episode, curator Michael Inman joins us to explain the publication of Birds of America.

Though John James Audubon was the son of a French planter, he cultivated the image of an American frontiersman. In this episode, New York Public Library curator Michael Inman joins us for a discussion of Audubon's early life.

The Death of Poe

In 1849, Edgar Allan Poe disappeared for five days before he was found semi-conscious outside of a saloon. He died four days later, presumably from alcohol abuse. Over the years, many alternate cause-of-death theories have emerged. Which is most likely?

The Pulitzer-winning play "Clybourne Park" took inspiration from Lorraine Hansberry's "A Raisin the Sun." In this episode, we talk to Clybourne Park's Tony-nominated director Pam MacKinnon about the work and historical research that went into the play.

After a childhood spent roaming Europe, Freya Stark began saving money to take Arabic lessons. Once fluent, she traveled into areas few outsiders had ever been, documenting her travels in best-selling books. Listen in to learn more about Freya of Arabia.

When Adam Worth stole a portrait of the Duchess of Devonshire, he fell in love with the painting. But a botched theft in Belgium landed him in prison, where the story of his life reached Arthur Conan Doyle and inspired the character of Professor Moriarty.

Professor Moriarty was based on a real man: Adam Worth. After being falsely reported as dead during the Civil War, Worth began a life of crime. When Worth moved to London he began his Moriarty phase, but his peculiar criminal quirks led to his near ruin.

Charles Dickens is best known for chronicling life in London, but he also wrote about the United States - and not in a flattering light. When touring the U.S. and Canada with his wife, Dickens found many American customs repugnant. Tune in to learn more.