Tag: henry james

7 April-Born Authors to Read This Month

April is the month of warmer weather, budding flowers, and April showers. More importantly, it’s also the birth month of numerous influential authors. As readers, we tend to stick to the genres we feel most comfortable reading. But now that many of us are social-distancing at home, we have an abundance of time on our hands, which is all the more reason to check out some of these works–even if you wouldn’t normally pick them off a shelf. Ranging from rich fantasy to 18th century settings, these books will transport you to a different time–and maybe even a different world. 

1. Hans Christen Andersen – April 2, 1805

via fine art america

A Danish writer, Hans Christen Andersen is best known for his 19th century fairy tales, many of which have been adapted to Disney movies modern day. Despite the popularity of his children’s stories today–some of which include “The Little Mermaid,” “The Emperor’s New Clothes,” and “The Ugly Duckling”–many literary critics disapproved of his fairy tales when they were first published in the 19th century, and discouraged him from pursuing the genre. Andersen also published several novels.

Major works to check out: Hans Christensen Andersen’s Complete Fairy Tales

Not into children’s books? Watch these movies based on his works: Disney’s The Little Mermaid, Thumbelina, Fantasia 2000 (inspired by “The Steadfast Tin Soldier”)

 

2. Washington Irving – April 3, 1783

via interesting literature

Washington Irving is most well-known for his short story “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” but he also published numerous historical works and biographies about figures like George Washington and Christopher Columbus. Irving is accredited with defining the American short story, as well as encouraging other authors, especially as he became one of the first American authors to gain literary success in Europe. 

Major works to check out: “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow,” “Rip Van Winkle”

Not interested in the short story? (We’re silently judging you. Just kidding–Maybe.) Check out Tim Burton’s Sleepy Hollow.

3. Maya Angelou – April 4, 1928

via the new york times

A woman of many talents, Maya Angelou is known for her work as a writer, singer, and civil rights activist. Her most influential work is I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, an autobiography about Angelou’s childhood and early teenage years, in which she discusses racism, rape, and what it’s like growing up as a female in a male-centric world. The book has won numerous awards since its release, though was banned from some schools due to its discussions of rape. Since then, it has become a literary classic studied on a multitude of college campuses.

Angelou passed away in 2014, but leaves behind a legacy of influential works and activism.

Major works to check out: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, “On the Pulse of Morning”

 

4. Leigh Bardugo – April 6, 1975

via leigh bardugo

Since her debut in 2012, Leigh Bardugo has become a household name in the YA industry. Her success is mostly attributed to the Grishaverse, which consists of three series and a book of short stories, all set in the same universe. Anyone looking to dip their feet in the genre will appreciate Bardugo’s strong characters, complex world-building, and creative use of YA tropes. Netflix has recently picked up the series in Shadow and Bone, so now is the perfect time to get reading before the release of the show!

But Bardugo’s work isn’t limited to just Young Adult; her most recent publication is Ninth House, an adult novel following a student at Yale University. If you loved any of her previous works, you’ll love this dark fantasy.

Major works to check out: Shadow and Bone, Six of Crows, King of Scars, Ninth House

5. William Wordsworth – April 7, 1770

via the new yorker

William Wordsworth, in collaboration with his colleague Samuel Coleridge, is best known for defining the Romantic Age with Lyrical Ballads. This literary age moved away from neoclassicism, which emphasized reason, and focused instead on human emotion and connection with nature. Wordsworth has published numerous poems, including autobiographical The Prelude, a retrospective poem that delves into his personal life and explores human nature. 

Major works to check out: The Prelude, Lyrical Ballads, “Lines Composed a Few Miles from Tintern Abbey,” “We are Seven”

6. Henry James – April 15, 1843

via the new yorker

A major transatlantic figure, Henry James held both American and British citizenship after leaving the US to settle in London. James is most known for his literary modernism and is often hailed as one of the best novelists of the English language. Many of his novels feature American protagonists transitioning into, or exploring, British life, delving into the ways identity is often tied to nationality. Despite his major success, James was often criticized by Theodore Roosevelt for moving to Europe and, in Roosevelt’s eyes at least, his lack of masculinity. 

Major works to check out: The Portrait of a Lady, What Maisie Knew, Daisy Miller

 

7. William Shakespeare – April 1564 (baptized April 26)

via biography.com

While we don’t know Shakespeare’s exact birthday, we do know that he was baptized April 26, 1564, meaning he was born sometime around then. One of the most well-known playwrights (if you haven’t heard of him, I think I can safely say you must live under a rock), Shakespeare is attributed with writing numerous poems and plays. If his name gives you flashbacks of acting out Macbeth in front of your sophomore class–don’t fret! Shakespeare’s plays may seem daunting to read at first, but the drama, humor, and deft use of iambic pentameter will entice more than just English majors.

Major works to check out: Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Richard III

If reading Shakespeare is really not your thing, check out these movies: Shakespeare in Love (based on his life), West Side Story (based on Romeo and Juliet), 10 Things I Hate About You (based on The Taming of the Shrew)

featured image via the la times

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5 Ghost Stories to Read on Christmas Eve

Though we might not readily associate ghost stories with Christmas Eve and winter celebrations, it was actually a very common practice to tell scary tales during the 19th century and even earlier on than that. For a number of reasons, some of which can be cited back to Puritan ancestry, this story telling tradition fell out of practice in America.

I, however, am a horror story buff, and I will look for any excuse to spin a scary yarn with friends and family.

 

Here are five ghost stories to read on Christmas Eve.

 

 

1. A Christmas Carol

 

image via Amazon

 

This is most definitely the longest ghost story on the list, but it definitely fits with the season. Charles Dicken’s A Christmas Carol is a culturally significant tale that has countless adaptations credited to it. This narrative follows Ebenezer Scrooge, an embittered old man who doesn’t just hate Christmas, but he just hates people in general. Yet out of everyone, he despises individuals who would dare to ask him for his time or, even worse, his money. He intends to spend Christmas Eve alone, as he does every year, but his plans are uprooted when the ghost of his former business partner comes to him and says that three more phantoms will be visiting him that night. Scrooge is forced to confront the ghosts of his past, and he is urged to change his ways. If he doesn’t, his actions won’t only result in ruining his life, it will also harm those directly impacted by his decisions.

 

 

2. The Turn of The screw

 

image via goodreads

 

Henry James‘s novella, The Turn of The Screw is an eerie tale that spans roughly seventy pages. The story begins with the narrator and his friends telling each other ghost stories one Christmas Eve, and the narrator claims that he is in possession of a one hundred percent real account of a haunting. What follows is the story of a governess who is hired to teach and care for two children. While her employment begins without incident, the governess soon begins to see strange, ghostly figures from a distance. She soon learns that these phantoms have sinister plans for the children, and she must do everything in her power to protect her two pupils.

 

3. The Kit Bag

 

image via literawiki

 

Written by Algernon Blackwood, The Kit Bag is a short story that follows Johnson, a lawyer’s secretary. Johnson is set to go on Christmas vacation after his boss wrapped up a case where he defended a man convicted of murder. He borrows a kit bag from his boss, but there is something very, very wrong with it. Johnson begins seeing images and hearing voices near the bag. This story is suspenseful and frightening, and it is definitely an excellent ghost story to read this winter.

 

 

4. The Canterville ghost

 

image via Alma books

 

This one is most definitely a breath of fresh air after the last two stories on this list. Oscar Wilde‘s The Canterville Ghost is a comedic story that plays with the tropes found in English ghost stories. This narrative follows an American family who moves to England and takes up residence in a haunted house. Try as the ghost may to frighten these new tenets, his efforts are in vain—the family just isn’t scared of rattling chains and random bloodstains. Unlike the previous two entries on this list, this story also has a happy ending. *Spoiler Alert*: This story begins as a playful ribbing of English ghost stories and ends with redemption for the ghost.

 

 

5. Oh, whistle, and i’ll come to you, my lad

 

image via pinterest

 

So many of the images for M.R. James‘s short story Oh, Whistle and I’ll Come to You, My Lad, are terrifying. This one is pretty tame by comparison to a few that I found. Professor Parkins, the story’s main character, goes on a golfing vacation. While on vacation, he comes across some old ruins and, and in these ruins, he finds a small whistle. Almost immediately after finding this item, Parkins begins to see a figure, have visions, and experience an oppressive energy. This all culminates in the final chilling encounter, where the figure that Parkins has been seeing in the distance appears in his bedroom.

 

Featured Image Via Den of Geek

 

 


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‘The Turn of the Screw’ Movie Has a Creepy-Crawly Trailer

The Turn of the Screw is a horror novella written by Henry James way back when in 1898 (a very good year for spooks). Today, a trailer for a film based on James’ work has been released, and fans can look forward to some good, old fashioned, spider-based scares.

 

Image via Amazon

 

On top of this, The Turning, as the movie is short-handedly titled, boasts an excellent cast. Mackenzie Davis, best known for her lead role in Black Mirror‘s “San Junipero,” plays a nanny looking after two young children who find themselves living in their uncle’s country home after the death of their parents.

 

 

The pair are played by Finn Wolfhard of Stranger Things, and Brooklynn Prince of The Florida Project. Up until the nanny’s arrival, the children were being cared for by the home’s elderly housekeeper, as their uncle had “no interest” in raising them⁠—possibly because they’re creepy as all heck.

 

Image via MovieWeb

 

In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, director Floria Sigismondi, known for directing The Runaways and The Handmaid’s Tale, had this to say:

“It’s a very dark story that’s endured for over a hundred years. We’ve taken this story, and modernized it, and placed it in the 1990’s. It follows a nanny who is looking [for] a life change, and when she arrives at the house she meets two orphans, Flora and Miles. They start to act a little strange ad she senses that they’re harboring a secret, that they’re hiding something from her. She quickly realizes that there’s something wrong in the house.”

 

 

Though The Turning is a more modern adaption of James’ original work, it still has many classic elements of horror. There’s the rickety old mansion full of ghostly apparitions, a tiny child with a thousand-yard stare, and spiders. The worst kind of spiders, actually. The kind that goes in your mouth.

 

Image via Youtube

 

This isn’t the first time that The Turning of the Screw has been adapted for the big screen. James Clayton’s 1961 horror classic The Innocents is a notable example, one that Sigismondi says influenced her work greatly.

“I studied what worked in that film, and the atmosphere it created, and how the house became a character, and what we saw and didn’t see. I also loved how that film made it about the nanny and not just about the things that were happening in the house. So, I really drew upon those things, and modernized it, and made it my own.”

 

 

The Turning will be out in theaters on January 24th, 2020. It seems set to a be a spooky treat full of twists and, I’m sorry, turns.

 

Featured image via JoBlo
Victoria Pedretti in 'The Haunting of Hill House'

‘The Haunting of Hill House’s Victoria Pedretti Returns for Another ‘Haunting’

Victoria Pedretti, who made her first major on-screen role in Netflix’s The Haunting of Hill House will return for a second season titled The Haunting of Bly Manor.

Netflix is continuing their anthology series, which kicked off with a bang with The Haunting of Hill House, which adapted Shirley Jackson’s novel of the same name. The second season, The Haunting of Bly Manor, will take on Henry James’ novel, The Turn of the Screw. The novel features the story of a governess, who is coming to care for two children, but it turns out that some supernatural forces have a hold over them.

 

'The Haunting of Hill House' Promo Image
Image Via shemazing

Pedretti, after starring as Nell Crain, has been quite busy with fabulous roles. She will be playing a role in Quentin Tarantino’s next film Once Upon a Time in Hollywood and another Netflix series, You.

She is currently being represented by Gersh and Management 360.

featured image via collider
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3 Classic Authors with Spooky Ties to the Occult

In the wake of Darwinism, the world was left with one loaded question: what does this discovery say about God and the afterlife? This search for meaning helped to spawn the Victorian Era obsession with the supernatural, a movement that sought the answers to life’s big questions- by any means necessary. Seances, astral projection, and psychic readings caught the interest of the era’s intellectuals, including some of your favorite authors.

 

1. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

 

As it turns out, the author and creator of famous detective Sherlock Holmes was supernaturally gifted. Doyle was a devotee of the Spiritualist movement, a widespread pursuit of the mystical originating with three dubiously psychic sisters. In 1848, the Fox Sisters of Hydesville, NY used a pattern of taps to communicate with the spirits in their supposedly haunted house. In the United States, rampant industrialization (hello disease and poverty) led to a nationwide obsession with death. In a world where one-third of infants born in cities did not live over 1 year, the sisters thrived. Though they recanted their story in 1888, they later stated that they had been paid a bribe of $1,500 to… well, lie about lying. By that point, however, Spiritualism had its own supernatural power as a sweeping movement. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, Spiritualist and mystery writer, was desperate to solve the greatest mystery of all: the secret of life beyond death.

 

Sherlock Holmes, creation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Image Via denofgeek.com

 

Conan Doyle’s fascination with the Fox Sisters led him to attempt a seance during his time as a physician. Known to fervently believe in telepathy, Conan Doyle publicized his beliefs during his notorious and brief friendship with magician Harry Houdini. Conan Doyle believed that Houdini had actual supernatural abilities, and, with his wife, convinced skeptic Houdini to participate in a seance. Conan Doyle’s wife claimed to receive a telepathic message from Houdini’s late mother; unfortunately, Houdini’s mother didn’t speak English. Yikes. Friendship over. Undeterred, Conan Doyle continued performing seances with his wife to contact his relatives who died in World War One. He would abandon his fiction writing at the height of his fame, focusing exclusively on his Spiritualist beliefs. After a lifelong obsession with ghosts, he eventually became one. Medium Estelle Roberts famously claimed to summon Doyle’s spirit in front of a large audience at his funeral in 1930.

 

2. Charles Dickens

 

Charles Dickens, literary genius behind A Tale of Two Cities and Great Expectations, was also all about that spooky lifestyle. Close friends would say he had a “hankering for ghosts,” an obsession that lasted throughout his life. This passion is evident in many of his works, perhaps most famously in A Christmas Carol. Though he later became more of a skeptic, he still sought out evidence of the supernatural. Dickens once explained he would never rule out any possibilities: “don’t suppose that I am so bold and arrogant as to settle what can and what cannot be, after death.” More interested in the scientific and psychological aspects of the supernatural, Dickens went on to become a proponent of Mesmerism.

 

 

Live action adaptation of 'A Christmas Carol'

Image Via electricliterature.com

 

The Mesmerist movement represented the crossover between proven science and faith in the unknown. A major part of Mesmerism was its focus on medical miracles and many (scientific?) attempts to cure disease with psychic energy. According to those who believed, a practitioner could put his patient into a trance and transfer his stronger energy into the weaker patient. This became (alarmingly!) a popular medical treatment in the 1830s and 1840s… not a time period known for its long lifespans. So much for your reason and skepticism, Dickens!

 

 

3. Henry James

 

Widely regarded as the bridge between American literary realism and modernism, The Turn of the Screw author Henry James had an occult connection through his brother. William James was a core member of the Society for Psychical Research, an organization of intelligentsia in pursuit of the secrets behind death. The Society sought to apply scientific principles to the unexplored territory of the supernatural. William himself was no crackpot, a Harvard man many call “the father of American psychology.” Although Henry James himself was not a member, the two brothers often stayed together, and Henry had frequent exposure to his brother’s ideas. One major area of William’s research was haunted houses, which he and the Society believed to be telepathic hotspots.

 

 

Haunted house graphic

Image Via yourtownmonthly.com

 

The Society for Psychical Research had a documented impact on the rising Gothic literary moment. Elements of Gothic literature include elements of horror, death, and gloom, along with the Romantic emphasis on intense emotions. William’s psychical investigations directly influenced Henry’s later ghost stories; it’s likely Henry also drew upon William’s paranormal research for his Gothic novel The Turn of the Screw.

 

As it turns out, anyone can believe in the supernatural, even the literary greats. So now the question is… do you?

 

 

Featured Image Via lovetoknow.com