The Writer's Almanac is a daily podcast of poetry and historical interest pieces, usually of literary significance, hosted by Garrison Keillor.
On this date in 1903, the Ford Motor Company sold its first car, the Model A. Ford used all the letters of the alphabet from A to T, but not all of them were manufactured and sold; most were just prototypes.
It's the birthday of writer and socialite Zelda Fitzgerald, born Zelda Sayre in Montgomery, Alabama. She was named after the fictional gypsy heroine in Zelda's Fortune (1874), one of her mother's favorite books. Zelda Fitzgerald said, "I don't want to live — I want to love first, and live incidentally."
It's the birthday of Louise Brown, the first baby conceived via in vitro insemination. "In vitro" means "in glass," so for years she was referred to as the first "test tube baby." She was born in Oldham, Great Britain, in 1978, to Lesley and John Brown, who had tried to conceive a child for nine years.
Today is the birthday of Aldous Huxley, author of the classic dystopian novel Brave New World (1923). Comparing Brave New World to George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four (1948), cultural critic Neil Postman said: "What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egoism."
It's the birthday of writer and critic Elizabeth Hardwick, who co-founded The New York Review of Books and who also said, "There are really only two reasons to write: desperation or revenge."
Today is the birthday of Earl Tupper, inventor of Tupperware. At first, he sold his product through department and hardware stores, but without much success: people couldn't figure out how to make the lids work unless someone demonstrated it for them. Thus, the birth of Tupperware Home Parties, headed by home products distributor Brownie Wise, in 1951.
Vincent Van Gogh died on this date in 1890. The mysterious circumstances around his death were the subject of the 2017 experimental animated art film Loving Vincent, whose 65,000 frames are actually individual oil paintings in the style of Van Gogh.
It's the birthday of Emily Brönte, best known for her only novel Wuthering Heights (1848). It's a passionate, tragic love story written by a woman who, as far as it is known, rarely spoke to anyone other than her immediate family members.
It's the birthday of J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series. She was on a train in 1990 when she suddenly got the idea for a novel. "I was looking out of the window at some cows, I believe and I just thought: 'Boy doesn't know he's a wizard — goes off to wizard school.'"