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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Biography, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 722
1. 60 years of Guinness World Records

On 27 August 1955, the first edition of the Guinness Book of Records–now Guinness World Records, was published. Through listing world records of both human achievements and of the natural world, what started as a reference book became an international franchise, gaining popular interest around the globe. In celebration of this anniversary of weird and wonderful world records, we’ve selected a few favourites from talented individuals featured in our online products.

The post 60 years of Guinness World Records appeared first on OUPblog.

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2. Fab Four Friends

Fab Four Friends: The Boys Who Became the BEATLES  by Susanna Reich illustrated by Adam Gustavson Henry Holt Books and Company, 2015 ISBN: 978-0-8050-9458-9 Grades K-5 The reviewer received a copy of the book from the publisher. Over the past few years I've added two Beatles biographies to my school library collection: The Beatles Were Fab by Kathleen Krull and Who Were the Beatles? by Geoff

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3. Max Planck’s debt

The great German physicist Max Planck once said, “However many specialties science may split into, it remains fundamentally an indivisible whole.” He declared that the divisions and subdivisions of scientific disciplines were “not based on the nature of things.”

The post Max Planck’s debt appeared first on OUPblog.

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4. The Life of Charlotte Bronte (1857)

The Life of Charlotte Bronte. Elizabeth Gaskell. 1857/1975. Penguin Classics. 623 pages. [Source: Bought]

I should have read it years ago. I really should have. I simply loved, loved, loved Elizabeth Gaskell's biography of Charlotte Bronte. Yes, it's packed with information on the Brontes. But it's more than that. It's how this information is conveyed, it's how the story is written that makes it a compelling read. Not many biographies are impossible to put down. This one was. Gaskell, in many ways, let Charlotte Bronte speak for herself by sharing so many letters or excerpts from letters. One really gets a sense of "knowing" from reading it. And that isn't always the case with biographies, though it is sometimes the case with autobiographies. I appreciated Gaskell's narrative voice very much. It was a real treat. Anyone who loves Victorian literature should read this one. Or anyone who loves Jane Eyre or any other Bronte novel.

Quotes:
I read for the same reason that I ate or drank; because it was a real craving of nature. I wrote on the same principle as I spoke--out of the impulse and feelings of the mind; nor could I help it, for what came, came out, and there was the end of it. ~ Charlotte Bronte in a letter to Mr. Wordsworth, 1837
It is very edifying and profitable to create a world out of your own brains, and people it with inhabitants, who are so many Melchisedecs, and have no father nor mother but your own imagination. ~ Charlotte Bronte, 1840
Some of my greatest difficulties lie in things that would appear to you comparatively trivial. ~ Charlotte Bronte, 1841
Write to me often; very long letters. It will do both of us good. ~ Charlotte Bronte, 1841
If I could, I would always work in silence and obscurity, and let my efforts be known by their results. ~ Charlotte Bronte, 1841
They wanted learning. They came for learning. They would learn. Where they had a distinct purpose to be achieved in intercourse with their fellows, they forgot themselves; at all other times they were miserably shy. ~ Elizabeth Gaskell about Charlotte and Emily going to Brussells 
Any one who has studied her writings,—whether in print or in her letters; any one who has enjoyed the rare privilege of listening to her talk, must have noticed her singular felicity in the choice of words. She herself, in writing her books, was solicitous on this point. One set of words was the truthful mirror of her thoughts; no others, however apparently identical in meaning, would do. She had that strong practical regard for the simple holy truth of expression, which Mr. Trench has enforced, as a duty too often neglected. She would wait patiently searching for the right term, until it presented itself to her. It might be provincial, it might be derived from the Latin; so that it accurately represented her idea, she did not mind whence it came; but this care makes her style present the finish of a piece of mosaic. Each component part, however small, has been dropped into the right place. She never wrote down a sentence until she clearly understood what she wanted to say, had deliberately chosen the words, and arranged them in their right order. Hence it comes that, in the scraps of paper covered with her pencil writing which I have seen, there will occasionally be a sentence scored out, but seldom, if ever, a word or an expression. She wrote on these bits of paper in a minute hand, holding each against a piece of board, such as is used in binding books, for a desk. This plan was necessary for one so short-sighted as she was; and, besides, it enabled her to use pencil and paper, as she sat near the fire in the twilight hours, or if (as was too often the case) she was wakeful for hours in the night. Her finished manuscripts were copied from these pencil scraps, in clear, legible, delicate traced writing, almost as easy to read as print. ~ Elizabeth Gaskell about Charlotte Bronte's writing habits
Even at the risk of appearing very exacting, I can't help saying that I should like a letter as long as your last, every time you write. Short notes give one the feeling of a very small piece of a very good thing to eat,—they set the appetite on edge, and don't satisfy it,—a letter leaves you more contented; and yet, after all, I am very glad to get notes; so don't think, when you are pinched for time and materials, that it is useless to write a few lines; be assured, a few lines are very acceptable as far as they go; and though I like long letters, I would by no means have you to make a task of writing them. . . . ~ Charlotte Bronte, 1847
If "Jane Eyre" has any solid worth in it, it ought to weather a gust of unfavourable wind. ~ Charlotte Bronte, 1847
If I ever DO write another book, I think I will have nothing of what you call 'melodrama;' I think so, but I am not sure. I THINK, too, I will endeavour to follow the counsel which shines out of Miss Austen's 'mild eyes,' 'to finish more and be more subdued;' but neither am I sure of that. When authors write best, or, at least, when they write most fluently, an influence seems to waken in them, which becomes their master—which will have its own way—putting out of view all behests but its own, dictating certain words, and insisting on their being used, whether vehement or measured in their nature; new-moulding characters, giving unthought of turns to incidents, rejecting carefully-elaborated old ideas, and suddenly creating and adopting new ones. ~ Charlotte Bronte, 1848
Every one has a right to form his own conclusion respecting the merits and demerits of a book. I complain not of the judgment which the reviewer passes on "Jane Eyre." Opinions as to its tendency varied then, as they do now. While I write, I receive a letter from a clergyman in America in which he says: "We have in our sacred of sacreds a special shelf, highly adorned, as a place we delight to honour, of novels which we recognise as having had a good influence on character OUR character. Foremost is 'Jane Eyre.' ~ Elizabeth Gaskell on book reviews
I wish you did not think me a woman. I wish all reviewers believed 'Currer Bell' to be a man; they would be more just to him. You will, I know, keep measuring me by some standard of what you deem becoming to my sex; where I am not what you consider graceful, you will condemn me. All mouths will be open against that first chapter; and that first chapter is true as the Bible, nor is it exceptionable. Come what will, I cannot, when I write, think always of myself and of what is elegant and charming in femininity; it is not on those terms, or with such ideas, I ever took pen in hand: and if it is only on such terms my writing will be tolerated, I shall pass away from the public and trouble it no more. Out of obscurity I came, to obscurity I can easily return. Standing afar off, I now watch to see what will become of 'Shirley.' My expectations are very low, and my anticipations somewhat sad and bitter; still, I earnestly conjure you to say honestly what you think; flattery would be worse than vain; there is no consolation in flattery. As for condemnation I cannot, on reflection, see why I should much fear it; there is no one but myself to suffer therefrom, and both happiness and suffering in this life soon pass away. ~ Charlotte Bronte, 1849
You say that you suspect I have formed a large circle of acquaintance by this time. No: I cannot say that I have. I doubt whether I possess either the wish or the power to do so. A few friends I should like to have, and these few I should like to know well. ~ Charlotte Bronte, 1850
I have read Tennyson's 'In Memoriam,' or rather part of it; I closed the book when I had got about half way. It is beautiful; it is mournful; it is monotonous. ~ Charlotte Bronte, 1850
It is my intention to write a few lines of remark on 'Wuthering Heights,' which, however, I propose to place apart as a brief preface before the tale. I am likewise compelling myself to read it over, for the first time of opening the book since my sister's death. Its power fills me with renewed admiration; but yet I am oppressed: the reader is scarcely ever permitted a taste of unalloyed pleasure; every beam of sunshine is poured down through black bars of threatening cloud; every page is surcharged with a sort of moral electricity; and the writer was unconscious of all this—nothing could make her conscious of it. And this makes me reflect,—perhaps I am too incapable of perceiving the faults and peculiarities of my own style. ~ Charlotte Bronte, 1850
You charge me to write about myself. What can I say on that precious topic? My health is pretty good. My spirits are not always alike. Nothing happens to me. I hope and expect little in this world, and am thankful that I do not despond and suffer more. ~ Charlotte Bronte, 1851
Even if it should turn out reasonably well, still I regard it as ruin to the prosperity of an ephemeral book like a novel, to be much talked of beforehand, as if it were something great. People are apt to conceive, or at least to profess, exaggerated expectation, such as no performance can realise; then ensue disappointment and the due revenge, detraction, and failure.~ Charlotte Bronte, 1852

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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5. Commemorating Sri Aurobindo’s anniversary, the birth of a nation, and a new world

The fifteenth of August commemorates Sri Aurobindo’s birthday, and the birth of independent India, a historical landmark where he played a significant role. Aurobindo, the founder of Purna, or Integral Yoga, is a renowned and controversial poet, educationist, and literary critic, a politician, sociologist, and mystic whose evolutionary worldview represents a breakthrough in history. Nevertheless, what is the relevance of Aurobindo nowadays?

The post Commemorating Sri Aurobindo’s anniversary, the birth of a nation, and a new world appeared first on OUPblog.

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6. Street Poison

Street Poison is an illuminating portrait of the flawed and fascinating life of Iceberg Slim. Though not well known in literary circles, his books have had a profound effect on music, film, and inner-city culture. Gifford, his biographer, crafts a highly readable account of mid-20th-century African American history that feels both timely and relevant. Books [...]

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7. Mess

Barry Yourgrau's apartment was filled with sentimental keepsakes from traveling and from his family. True to his style, he began researching clutter, doing interviews, and going to group meetings, but not actually removing anything from his apartment. Eventually he began to work his way through the boxes of his father's books stacked underneath the piano, [...]

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8. Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer: Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement

Voice of Freedom: Fannie Lou Hamer:  Spirit of the Civil Rights Movement by Carole Boston Weatherford illustrated by Ekua Holmes Candlewick Press, 2015 ISBN: 978-0-7636-6531-9 Grades 4-12 The reviewer received a copy of the book from the publisher. Voice of Freedom is a beautiful tribute to Fannie Lou Hamer, civil rights activist and voting rights champion. Fannie Lou Hamer, also known as the

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9. The public life of Charles Dickens

Our Oxford World's Classics reading group, in its third season, has chosen Dickens's Great Expectations for discussion. In addition to analyzing that a work for its literary depth, it is just as important to consider an author's life and the context in which the work was written.

The post The public life of Charles Dickens appeared first on OUPblog.

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10. We Should Hang Out Sometime Book Review

Title: We Should Hang Out Sometime Author: Josh Sundquist Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Publication Date: December 23, 2014 ISBN-13: 978-0316251020 336 pp. ARC provided by publisher Josh Sundquist is a Paralympian, motivational speaker, and YouTuber who's not so good with the ladies. This biography tells the tale of all the girls he's loved before (or at least crushed on

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11. William Lawrence Bragg and Crystallography

The history of modern Crystallography is intertwined with the great discoveries’ of William Lawrence Bragg (WLB), still renowned to be the youngest Nobel Prize in Physics. Bragg received news of his Nobel Prize on the 14th November 1915 in the midst of the carnage of the Great War. This was to be shared with his father William Henry Bragg (WHB), and WHB and WLB are to date the only father and son team to be jointly awarded the Nobel Prize.

The post William Lawrence Bragg and Crystallography appeared first on OUPblog.

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12. Death is not the end: The rise and rise of Pierre Bourdieu in US sociology

Pierre Bourdieu would have turned 85 on 1 August 2015. Thirteen years after his death, the French sociologist remains one of the leading social scientists in the world. His work has been translated into dozens of languages (Sapiro & Bustamante 2009), and he is one of the most cited social theorists worldwide, ahead of major thinkers like Jurgen Habermas, Anthony Giddens, or Irving Goffman (Santoro 2008).

The post Death is not the end: The rise and rise of Pierre Bourdieu in US sociology appeared first on OUPblog.

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13. A Field Guide to Getting Lost

Solnit is one of the most eloquent, urgent, and intelligent voices writing nonfiction today; from Men Explain Things to Me to Storming the Gates of Paradise, anything she's written is well worth reading. But her marvelous book of essays A Field Guide to Getting Lost might be her most poetic, ecstatic work. Field Guide is [...]

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14. What Happened, Miss Simone? : Liz Garbus’ documentary in review

Award-winning director Liz Garbus has made a compelling, if sometimes troubling, documentary about a compelling and troubling figure—the talented and increasingly iconic performer, Nina Simone. The title, What Happened, Miss Simone?, comes from an essay that Maya Angelou wrote in 1970. In the opening seconds of the film, excerpts from Angelou’s words appear: “Miss Simone, you are idolized, even loved, by millions now. But what happened, Miss Simone?”

The post What Happened, Miss Simone? : Liz Garbus’ documentary in review appeared first on OUPblog.

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15. enormous SMALLNESS

enormous SMALLNESS: A Story of E.E. Cummings  by Matthew Burgess illustrated by Kris Di Giacomo Enchanted Lion Books, 2015 Grades 2-5 The reviewer borrowed a copy of the book from her local library. I've heard from several public librarians that picture book biographies rarely circulate from their biography collections. I'm fortunate that in the school library where I work my K-5 students

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16. Who was Jonas Salk?

Most revered for his work on the polio vaccine, Jonas Salk was praised by the mainstream media but still struggled to earn the respect and adoration of the medical community. Accused of abusing the spotlight and giving little credit to fellow researchers, he arguably become more of an outcast than a "knight in a white coat." Even so, Salk continued to make strides in the medical community, ultimately leaving behind a legacy larger than the criticism that had always threatened to overshadow his career.

The post Who was Jonas Salk? appeared first on OUPblog.

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17. Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall

Untamed: The Wild Life of Jane Goodall  by Anita Silvey foreword by Jane Goodall National Geographic Kids, 2015 ISBN: 9781426315183 Grades 4-8 The reviewer received a copy of the book from the publisher. Anita Silvey eloquently captures the life and work of Jane Goodall in this narrative nonfiction book for middle grade readers. There is so much to like about the book. First, Jane Goodall is

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18. Smokejumper

Smokejumper is a fascinating look at the elite men and women who parachute into raging forest fires, risking their lives daily. Ramos provides a lively historical account of firefighting in the wilderness and takes us to the front lines, where fires can burn so fiercely they create their own weather. Books mentioned in this post

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19. Who was Amelia Edwards?

Surprisingly few people have heard of Amelia Edwards. Archaeologists know her as the founder of the Egyptian Exploration Fund, set up in 1882, and the Department of Egyptology at University College London, created in 1892 through a bequest on her death. The first Edwards Professor, Flinders Petrie, was appointed on Amelia’s recommendation and her name is still attached to the Chair of Egyptian Archaeology.

The post Who was Amelia Edwards? appeared first on OUPblog.

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20. Free e-book for June: Prospero’s Son

9780226142234

Our free e-book for June:

Prospero’s Son: Life, Books, Love and Theater by Seth Lerer

***

“This book is the record of a struggle between two temperaments, two consciousnesses and almost two epochs.” That’s how Edmund Gosse opened Father and Son, the classic 1907 book about his relationship with his father. Seth Lerer’s Prospero’s Son is, as fits our latter days, altogether more complicated, layered, and multivalent, but at its heart is that same problem: the fraught relationship between fathers and sons.
At the same time, Lerer’s memoir is about the power of books and theater, the excitement of stories in a young man’s life, and the transformative magic of words and performance. A flamboyantly performative father, a teacher and lifelong actor, comes to terms with his life as a gay man. A bookish boy becomes a professor of literature and an acclaimed expert on the very children’s books that set him on his path in the first place. And when that boy grows up, he learns how hard it is to be a father and how much books can, and cannot, instruct him. Throughout these intertwined accounts of changing selves, Lerer returns again and again to stories—the ways they teach us about discovery, deliverance, forgetting, and remembering.
“A child is a man in small letter,” wrote Bishop John Earle in the seventeenth century. “His father hath writ him as his own little story.” WithProspero’s Son, Seth Lerer acknowledges the author of his story while simultaneously reminding us that we all confront the blank page of life on our own, as authors of our lives.
***
Download your free copy of Prospero’s Son, here.

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21. Pioneer Girl (2014)

Pioneer Girl: The Annotated Autobiography. Laura Ingalls Wilder. Edited by Pamela Smith Hill. 2014. South Dakota State Historical State Society. 400 pages. [Source: Library]
Pioneer Girl is a must-read for anyone who grew up loving, or perhaps, LOVING, Laura Ingalls Wilder's Little House books. Pioneer Girl is an annotated autobiography. The book itself is a draft of an autobiography written by Laura Ingalls Wilder circa 1930. Mother and daughter worked with this draft preparing to send it to various publishers (not just book publishers) for a year or two. (There are several draft versions of Pioneer Girl.) Eventually, the focus shifts from writing an adult autobiography to writing a series of historical fiction novels for children. The adult autobiography was "forgotten" as a book itself, and becomes a source--a good source--for mother and daughter to use in their own fiction. I didn't know that Rose Wilder Lane borrowed generously from her mom's autobiography while writing her adult fiction. Lane wrote Free Land and Let the Hurricane Roar (Young Pioneers).

The autobiography shares Laura Ingalls Wilder's earliest memories through her wedding day. (Those earliest memories are of being a toddler in Kansas.) These memories are, of course, in her own words. The writing is natural and casual. Some paragraphs are great at capturing details and specifics of an event. Other paragraphs are more of a rush, a blend, they seem a bit fuzzier, less exact. These are her very personal reflections written first for her daughter, and, then possibly for a larger audience. Wilder has turned reflective. She's older now, feeling that very much. (Her mom died in 1924, her sister, Mary, in 1928. She's wanting to capture these memories, these stories, to hold onto them perhaps.) One also sees the book itself as an act of love, an expression of love, a way of remembering and honoring.

The annotations are wonderful. They provide background and context. The annotations includes notes on a wide variety of subjects a) people b) places c) events d) nature e) culture (songs, dances, fashion), f) writing, editing, and publishing. There are plenty of notes that compare and contrast scenes and events as they appear in Pioneer Girl and as they appear in one of the original novels. Readers see how a memory recorded in Pioneer Girl is shaped and crafted into a finished product with plenty of detail and even dialogue. Readers see how Wilder carefully--oh-so-carefully--crafted the characters of the family. One gets the definite impression that she was purposeful with every scene, every book. It was no accident that Pa is so noble, independent, strong, and bigger-than-life almost.

I learned so much by reading Pioneer Girl. I would definitely recommend it for anyone who has enjoyed spending time with Laura and her family through the years.

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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22. Magna Carta: the international dimension

The importance of Magna Carta—both at the time it was issued on 15 June 1215 and in the centuries which followed, when it exerted great influence in countries where the English common law was adopted or imposed—is a major theme of events to mark the charter’s 800th anniversary.

The post Magna Carta: the international dimension appeared first on OUPblog.

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23. The Argonauts

Perhaps what I love most about Maggie Nelson's work is her ability to bring both other writers and the reader directly onto the page to converse with her, and she does this exceptionally well in The Argonauts. Part memoir and part theory, The Argonauts is a beautiful examination of queer identity, relationships, and parenthood written [...]

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24. Draw What You See (2015)

Draw What You See: The Life and Art of Benny Andrews. Kathleen Benson. Illustrated by Benny Andrews. 2015. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. 32 pages. [Source: Review copy]

First sentence: Benny started to draw when he was three years old. Once he started, he never stopped. At first, he made pictures of the world around him. He drew hot suns and red clay and little wood-frame houses in the middle of cotton fields that stretched as far as he could see. He drew black people at work in the fields.

Premise/plot: Draw What You See is a picture book biography of the artist Benny Andrews. The book is illustrated by Andrews' artwork. Readers thereby get the chance to see his work for themselves and to learn his story: how he came to be an artist, what was important to him, how he saw the world, etc. The book does a great job at making art relevant to life.

My thoughts: I really enjoyed reading Draw What You See. I found the book to be simple and fascinating. This picture book biography is oh-so-easy for me to recommend.

Text: 4 out of 5
Illustrations: 4 out of 5
Total: 8 out of 10

© 2015 Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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25. The Argonauts

A seamless blend of memoir and cultural commentary, Maggie Nelson's The Argonauts is, among many other things, a book about relentless introspection and transformation, about confronting one's own truths and biases and finding meaning in collisions big and small. Nelson explores the course of her relationship with the transgender artist Harry Dodge, along with their [...]

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