This week, I will attempt to bring Andrei Bely back into the realm of regularly-read Russian writers by highlighting his novel, 'Petersburg,' as our TBT.
For some people, writing is a hobby; for others, it’s their work, their world, and they need other interests to pursue and get their mind off writing for a while. Let’s take a look at some of the coolest and craziest hobbies of five amazing authors!
1. Clark Thomas Carlton- Insect lover
The author of a truly amazing fantasy series is a huge fan of all things nature-related, and his wonderful fantasy books are inspired by ants! Clark got the idea for the series “during a trip to the Yucatan when he witnessed a battle for a Spanish peanut between two different kinds of ants. That night he dreamed of armies of tiny men on the backs of red and black ants. After doing years of research on insects and human social systems, Clark says that “the plot was revealed to me like a streaming, technicolor prophecy on the sixth night of Burning Man when the effigy goes up in flames.” His books are a wonderful homage to nature as well as a brilliant feat of world-building! Check out our interview with Clark and find out more about him below!
2. Sylvia Plath- Beekeeper
Poet and author Sylvia Plath, best known for her only novel The Bell Jar which carved out her place as one of the greatest writers of her generation, was a woman of many interests; among them beekeeping. A love of bees ran in the family, as her father Otto was “an entomologist who specialized in bees.” Plath described the donning of the beekeepers costume as ‘thrilling,’ in a letter to her mother. Her hobby inspired a series of poems featuring bees, which she wrote in the lead up to her death in 1963.
3. Madeleine L’Engle- Pianist
L’Engle is best known as the author of the beloved book A Wrinkle in Time, which was recently adapted for the big screen once more, starring Reese Witherspoon, Oprah Winfrey, Mindy Kaling and Storm Reid. L’Engle revealed that playing the piano would relieve her of writer’s block, saying:
Playing the piano is for me a way of getting unstuck. If I’m stuck in life or in what I’m writing, if I can I sit down and play the piano. What it does is break the barrier that comes between the conscious and the subconscious mind.
4. Vladmir Nobakov- Lepidopterist
Lolita author Vladimir Nabokov’s interest in lepidoptary began when he was just seven years old, and he retained his love of insects throughout his life. The New Yorker states:
As a child, in 1909, he proposed a Latin name for a subspecies of poplar admiral that he had spotted near his family’s estate, only to be told by a famous entomologist that the subspecies had already been identified, in Bucovina, in 1897. As an adult, Nabokov had more luck. He named multiple species, most famously the Karner blue (Lycaeides melissa samuelis), which he came across in upstate New York, in 1944.
5. Flannery O’Connor, the aviculturist
Short story connoisseur Flannery O’Connor’s love of bird rearing started early. At five years old, she and her chicken whom she had trained to walk backwards appeared on the news! As an adult, she raised peacocks and peahens on her farm in Georgia, even penning an essay in 1961 entitled “Living With a Peacock,” in which she describes her childhood news appearance:
When I was five, I had an experience that marked me for life. Pathé News sent a photographer from New York to Savannah to take a picture of a chicken of mine. This chicken, a buff Cochin Bantam, had the distinction of being able to walk either forward or backward. Her fame has spread through the press and by the time she reached the attention of Pathé News, I suppose there was nowhere left for her to go—forward or backward.