We are all fans of a fun fact. Humans are curious creatures, always on the hunt for new information that will benefit us or inspire us in some way, and a solid fact never goes unappreciated.
For example, don’t you feel more in tune with the world knowing that the first person to order a pizza for delivery was Margherita Savoy, Queen of Italy in 1889? That’s 128 years of sweet, sweet pizza loving around the world, people. Or how about knowing that over 1.3 million Earths could fit into the sun, or that sharks are older than trees clocking in at 400 million years of swimming our oceans?
My personal favourite new fact is that if too many pistachios are shipped in a single container, they will self-heat and experience spontaneous combustion. Yes, wacky facts about the potentiality of a nut exploding may only stay lodged in our memory for a day or two but the following pieces of literary information may be more useful to you bookworms in the long run; here goes:
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Fun Fact #1
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Where the Wild Things Are was originally titled Where the Wild Horses Are, and Maurice Sendak would have written about horses, however the author and illustrator soon realised he was crap at drawing them and thought it better to draw ‘things’ instead; ergo, one of the most unforgettable children’s stories of all time was born.
Fun Fact #2
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The first edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory was published in 1964 and was thought to be racist by many critics, with some arguing the opposite, insisting it was written to be an anti-racist novel. First of all, Dahl’s Oompa-Loompas were originally described as “black pygmies” from “the very deepest and darkest part of the African jungle where no white man had gone before.” They were quickly rewritten to be from “Loompaland” and appeared to have “rosy-white skin” and “golden-brown hair”.
On another note, critics insist that the first edition had the chance to be a really powerful racial allegory, as Dahl wanted Charlie Bucket to be a black child, caught in a chocolate mould that factory owner Willie Wonka helped him into. Charlie was to get trapped and nearly drown in the chocolate which was to be poured over him, eventually hardening, causing him great pain. Sources say that Dahl wanted the mould to be a metaphor for racial stereotype, as in the early twentieth century, chocolate marketing in both the US and England was tied up in imperialist fantasies and in connecting brown skin with brown chocolate.
Fun Fact #3
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Charles Dickens was a little bit of an eccentric. Growing up in London during the nineteenth century meant he was surrounded by such grim realities as working class life expectancy being twenty-two-years-old, half a million Londoners suffering and dying from typhus due to the lack of sanitation, 220 crimes being punishable by death and in 1839, when Dickens had reached the age of 27, nearly half of the funerals in London were being held for children under the age of ten, most of whom had full time jobs as laborers.
With a reality as cut throat as this, Londoners were surely grappling with a lot of fear and hardship. Dickens is known to have been a big practitioner of hypnotism (A.K.A. mesmerism to the Victorians) and the supernatural. He was a member of ‘The Ghost Club’. He also had a set of funny ideas such as sleeping facing north would help improve his writing and he regularly touched things three times for luck.
Cute Fact #4
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John Steinbeck’s original manuscript for Of Mice and Men met an interesting fate by being eaten by his pupper fluff Toby. Steinbeck said of the loss of his work to his agent, Elizabeth Otis,
My setter pup, left alone one night, made confetti of about half of my manuscript…. I was pretty mad but the poor little fellow may have been acting critically. I didn’t want to ruin a good dog for a [manuscript] I’m not sure is good at all.
What a nice dude and a dog lover taking his pups actions in his stride.
Fun Fact #5
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Gabriel García Marquez refuses to allow One Hundred Years of Solitude to be made into a film. Universally hailed as a major work of literature about the history of isolated town Macon and the Buendías family who founded it, no film has ever been made of the book, as the author declined every invitation to sign away the film rights. The first film adaptation of one of his novels came in 2007 when the English director Mike Newell made Love in the Time of Cholera. Friends claimed Márquez only agreed to the deal because he had been diagnosed with cancer and was concerned about the future of his family. However, as it stands today, the author deems One Hundred Years of Solitude “unfilmable” unless the the film includes the entire book, only releasing one chapter – two minutes long – each year, for 100 years. Sheeeeesh.
Fun Fact #6
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Don Quixote is the best-selling novel of all time with over 500 million copies sold. Miguel de Cervantes’ novel, about a man who becomes so infatuated with tales of knights that he decides to become one, is the novel which gave us the idiom- “tilting at Windmills” to indicate a noble but futile endeavor. Quixote’s misadventures as he travels across the Spanish countryside seeking wrongs to right and downtrodden peoples to uplift have amused generations of readers since it was published in 1612. Don Quixote is considered one of the first novels ever written, too.
Slightly Fun Fact #7
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Pride and Prejudice was originally titled First Impressions. Yep, the title was chosen due to a branding strategy that was sure to boost sales with publishers going for an “if-you-liked-that-you’ll-also-love-this” approach. Jane Austen’s blockbuster sales of Sense and Sensibility encouraged this name change by sticking to the noun-and-noun formula to ca$h in those book sales.
Fun Fact #8
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Catch-22 is hailed a cornerstone of American literature and is one of the funniest-and most celebrated books of all time, and it only took Joseph Heller 8 years to complete it. It is an anti-war novel and a general critique of bureaucracy set in Italy during WWII. If bombardier Yossarian excuse himself from the perilous missions he and his army are assigned, he’ll be in violation of a catch-22, a sinister yet hilarious bureaucratic rule: a man is considered insane if he willingly continues to fly dangerous combat missions, but is he makes a formal request to be removed from duty, he is proven sane and therefore ineligible to be relieved of his duties. Certainly has himself in a pickle.
Funnest Fact #9
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Bill Gates brought Codex Leicester, one of Leonardo Da Vinci’s scientific journals for $30.8 million at Christie’s New York back in 1994. The sale currently holds the record for the second highest sale price of any book ever. Bill Gates is known to be an avid reader, with a personal collection of rare books hand selected by his professional book dealer. Codex Leicester is a collection of scientific journals, the most famous of all of the thirty journals Da Vinci kept and it is an exceptional illustration of the link between art and science and the creativity of the scientific process.
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