Miscellany and Trivia

Anecdotes about authors – One

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George Bernhard Shaw

The celebrated dancer Isadora Duncan once wrote to George Bernard Shaw declaring that, given the principles of eugenics, they should have a child together.
“Think of it!” she enthused. “With my body and your brains, what a wonder it would be.”
“Yes,” Shaw replied. “But what if it had my body and your brains?”

Anecdotes about authors – Two

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Isaac Asimov 

Once an editor rejected a story of Isaac Asimov and called it “meretricious.” The word is from the Latin meretrix, meaning “prostitute,” so that the implication was that Asimov was prostituting his talent and was writing a bad story that would get by on his name alone because he was too lazy to write a good one. (Later the story was sold elsewhere and received considerable acclaim.) Swallowing his annoyance, Asimov said mildly, “What was that word you used?” Obviously proud at knowing a word he felt Asimov didn’t know, the editor enunciated carefully, “Meretricious!” Whereupon Asimov replied, “And a Happy New Year to you.” 

Anecdotes about authors – Three

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J. K. Rowling

A lot of writers choose to represent themselves with initials instead of given names. E.E. Cummings. T.S. Eliot. J.K. Rowling. In the case of the Potter scribe, however, the “K” doesn’t really stand for anything. Joanna Rowling has no middle name, but her publisher thought Harry Potter would sell better if she disguised her gender. Thus, the mysterious “K” was born, which Rowling attributes to “Kathleen,” her grandmother.

Anecdotes about authors – Four

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Pablo Neruda (Ricardo Neftalí Reyes Basoalto)

Ricardo Neftalí Reyes Basoalto started writing young, and his poetry was published by the tender age of fourteen! Although most parents would be proud, Ricardo’s father literally lit his son’s poetry on fire when he found out. After that, Ricardo used the pseudonym “Pablo Neruda,” Pablo for Paul Verlaine and Neruda for Jan Neruda, both writers. Later in life, Pablo Neruda became his legal name.

Anecdotes about authors – Five

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Ian Fleming

The James Bond novels, while popular in England, had a rather lukewarm reception in the United States – until new president John F. Kennedy listed From Russia with Love as one of his ten favorite books in an interview with Life Magazine in 1961. Kennedy had met Fleming at a dinner party in 1960 and asked him about overthrowing Fidel Castro. Fleming gave Kennedy a bizarre plot that involved convincing Castro his beard attracted radiation, causing Castro to shave off his beard and thus totally destroy his mojo.

Anecdotes by vegetarians – One

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Lucy, Glasgow:

 In Cuba, a very helpful restaurateur bent over backwards when I told him, “soy vegetarian.” However, when he served me my plate of crisps, grilled vegetables, beans and rice, he proclaimed: “But you cannot be a vegetarian – you’re not skinny!”

Anecdotes by vegetarians – Two

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Julieta, Buenos Aires, Argentina:

I am a non-meat eater in a country where vegetarianism is an exotic illness. Try telling people you don’t eat red meat in Argentina. First question is always “Why?” followed by “Are you sick?” and, later, any of the following: “Are you sure? Come on, a bit won't hurt”, or “Don’t you ever feel like you’re dying for steak?”


Anecdotes by vegetarians – Three

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Jonathan Pagden, Chesham, Bucks:

I once stayed in a hotel in Munich (in a land famous for offering six varieties of meat for breakfast), and asked for the vegetarian lunch option. The waiter brought a plate of bacon. When I pointed this out, he said, with a completely straight face, “It came from a vegetarian pig.” I still don't know whether he was joking.


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