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Henry James

Arts Days: August 30, 1904: You Can Go Home Again
Henry James followed the advice of every good writing teacher—just write what you know. So it makes sense that some of his novels, including Daisy Miller and The Portrait of a Lady, were based loosely on a life he himself had lived, as a young, naïve American interacting with sophisticated Europeans.

James, a native New Yorker born to wealthy parents, lived and traveled abroad for much of his life, coming back to the U.S. only occasionally. James used interior monologue and various points of view to observe relationships among people, sometimes across social classes, and often shaped by the social conventions of life in cities around the globe during the second half of the 19th century.
Literature

Jack London

Arts Days: July 25, 1897: Call of the Wild
Adventure seeker Jack London dropped out of the University of California at Berkeley partly because he ran out of money to pay for school, partly to participate in the Klondike Gold Rush—along with hundreds of thousands of others hoping to strike gold.

London’s time in Canada would go on to form the basis for many of his great literary works. But the traveling and the time spent looking for minuscule amounts of gold led to health problems for the writer. London recovered when he returned to California the following year, and began to sell enough stories to magazines and newspapers to support himself.

Novels like White Fang and Call of the Wild, both inspired by his time in the Klondike, would cement London’s reputation as a uniquely American voice of the early 20th century.
Literature

Toni Morrison

Arts Days: January 11, 1978: Singing Her Praises
Toni Morrison's novels are known for their epic themes, vivid dialogue, and richly-developed African American characters. Her third novel, Song of Solomon, won the National Book Critics Circle Award, a prestigious honor given annually to the finest books published in the English language.

This award propelled Morrison into the national spotlight. Since then, she has continued to write novels, as well as short stories, plays, children's books, and non-fiction. Ms. Morrison won the Pulitzer Prize in 1988 and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1993, becoming the first African American to win the award, as well as the first American woman to win in more than 50 years.
Literature

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Arts Days: May 22, 1859: Scotland Yard’s Storyteller
The man who would dream up the most famous detective in all literature remembers well his mother’s gift for entertaining her children with tales. But as was the custom of the day, Arthur Conan Doyle was sent to boarding school at a young age. There, he followed in his mother’s footsteps by telling classmates stories.

Following medical school, Doyle wrote for fun, and in 1887, he conceived of the characters Sherlock Holmes and his sidekick, and sometimes narrator, Dr. Watson, who solved crimes together.

Four years later, he happily left his medical practice to write full time, writing more Sherlock Holmes stories and novels, and the creepy novel The Hound of the Baskervilles. Yet it was Doyle’s pipe-smoking, deeply analytical detective Holmes who captured readers’ hearts most, then and now—in books, on stage, and in movies.
Literature

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Aldous Huxley
"After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible, is music."
Literature

arts quote

Arts Quotes: Charles Dickens
"This is a world of action, and not for moping and droning in."
Literature

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Be a Star!
Pretend you’re a character from your favorite book. Eat dinner as the character. Can your family guess who you are?
Literature, Theater

arts challenge

Everyday Arts Challenge: Book Nook
What’s your favorite book? Draw a new cover for it. How does it compare to the original cover?
Literature, Visual Arts

Skeleton Story

Article: The Skeleton of a Scary Story
Have you ever wanted to scare your friends around the campfire? This article will tell you how!
Science Fiction & Fantasy, Literature

Reading Into Action

Tipsheet: Reading Into Action
Make reading part of your physical education class and exercise students' bodies and brains!
Physical Activity, Literature

Aesop's Fables

Lesson: Elements of Fables
This lesson focuses on describing the general literary elements in fables. In this particular lesson, students will recognize the key elements of a fable (moral, character, and figurative language).
Language, Literature

Constitution of the United States

Lesson: Utopian Visions
Students are introduced to the idea of a "utopia"—an idealized society. Students read Sir Thomas More's Utopia and examine the concepts behind his vision of an ideal society.
America, Literature

Scene from

Lesson: Southern Puritanism and Tennessee Williams
This lesson continues the exploration of "Puritanism" as an influence on the development of modern American drama in works by Tennessee Williams.
America, Literature

Old river boat docked at Memphis, Tennessee.

Lesson: Twain: Steamboat's a-Comin'
Examining the mystique of rivers as inspiration for creative expression it shows us the powerful influence the Mississippi River had on Mark Twain’s writings.
America, Literature

Mark Twain

Lesson: Twain: Icon and Iconoclast
This lesson asks students to examine samples of Twain’s work in the context of pre- and post-Civil War America.
America, Literature

Tom Sawyer

Lesson: Twain: Tom Sawyer—Mythic Adventurer
Learn about the source for The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Read, and analyze the novel, with attention to character and style.
America, Literature

Scene from Eugene O'Neill's 'The Hairy Ape'

Lesson: Broken Worlds
This lesson provides a variety of options for conducting comparative analysis between Eugene O’Neill’s The Hairy Ape and Tennessee Williams’ A Streetcar Named Desire.
Literature, America

Hecuba Blinding Polynestor

Lesson: It's All in the Translation
In this lesson students will examine the important role translation plays in interpreting the dramatic literature and theater of the ancient Greeks.
Literature, Language

Fictional Book

Lesson: Creating Characters
Students examine character as a significant element of fiction, learning methods of characterization, identify and critique.
Literature, Language

Fiction book

Lesson: Plotting the Story
Students examine plot as a significant element of fiction. They distinguish plot from narrative to gain a firm understanding of a plot’s function within a story.
Language, Literature

Davy Crockett

Lesson: What a Character
In this lesson, students analyze how a character's personality traits, actions and motives influence the plot of a story.
Folklore, Literature

Roald Dahl

Arts Days: September 13, 1913: What a Dahl
It may come as no surprise to learn that one of young Roald Dahl’s schools was situated near a chocolate factory, and some lucky students got to take part in candy-bar tasting. Yes, the popular children’s writer who authored Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and dreamed up its chocolate bars wrapped in golden tickets clearly drew some of his fantastically inventive tales from his own life experiences.

Dahl also wrote plenty of books and short stories for adults, but his children’s works stand out for their dark humor, startling plot twists, and outrageous characters like greedy Augustus Gloop in Charlie and mean Miss Trunchbull in Matilda—characters who almost always get their come-uppance in the end.
Literature, Popular Culture

Ernest Hemingway

Arts Days: July 21, 1899: Our Rugged Wordsmith
Although he lived abroad much of his life, Ernest Hemingway is considered to possess a deeply American literary voice. His novels and short stories are characterized by a spare and straightforward writing style that uses few words to express ideas. He packs a lot of meaning between the lines, like letting descriptions of a character’s body language enhance what they are really feeling.

His contributions to classic American literature are plentiful: The Sun Also Rises, The Old Man and the Sea, and Islands in the Stream. They’re all rich with rugged images of nature. Hemingway loved and was deeply inspired by the great outdoors, from the ocean to the wild animals he loved to fish and hunt.

Many of his works are studied by aspiring authors as examples of how to write as clearly as possible, with all excess words trimmed away.
America, Literature

Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley

Arts Days: March 11, 1818: Oh, the Horror of it All
How could it be Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley was only 18 years old when she started writing the book Frankenstein; or The Modern Prometheus?  Here’s part of the explanation: At the time she wrote it, she and her friends would entertain each other with ghost stories. Back then, Shelley wasn’t thinking about a super-tall green guy with bolts in his neck. (That’s a concept introduced by Frankenstein movies, cartoons, and storybooks.)

Truthfully, Shelley was trying to write a story warning people about the dangers of the Industrial Revolution, in which machines were taking over many jobs. Still, she used the scary idea of a person—Dr. Frankenstein—making and bringing to life a monster. Her book, published when she was 21, proved to be one of the classic examples of the Gothic fiction movement.
Literature, Science Fiction & Fantasy

George Orwell

Arts Days: June 25, 1903: Future Shock
Author George Orwell would often dress in old clothes and live in poorer sections of town to understand how people in different economic and social classes behaved. These experiences not only helped him write Down and Out in Paris and London, but they also influenced his sense of social justice for all.

Orwell wrote his satire Animal Farm as an allegory, with talking farm animals standing in for people. His hope was to argue the dangers of Stalin’s totalitarianism rising in the Soviet Union. In 1984, Orwell envisioned a future world in which human rights were non-existent and the government exercised thought control over its citizens. Orwell’s fertile imagination took us to some scary places even as they reminded us of the dignity of the common man.
Literature, Science Fiction & Fantasy

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