Secret Lives of Great Authors: What Your Teachers Never Told You About Famous Novelists, Poets, and Playwrights by Robert Schnakenberg

Entertaining and highly educational. If you’ve ever thought to yourself, “hey, I wonder how many famous authors had really freaky sex lives?” (answer: a lot) then this is the book for you.

Here’s some other useful tidbits of information I learned from this book, all of which I’ll be sure to bring up in every English class I ever take from now on:

-Lord Byron kept snippets of his girlfriends’ pubic hair in envelopes. And he had a lot of girlfriends (250 in Venice in one year alone).
-The Bronte sisters grew up in a house surrounded on three sides by graveyards.
-Henry David Thoreau invented raisin bread.
-Louisa May Alcott was an opium addict.
-Mark Twain started smoking at age eight and continued to smoke between twenty and forty cigars a day until his death.
-Both Oscar Wilde and Ernest Hemingway’s mothers dressed their respective sons in girls’ clothing for most of their childhoods.
-H.G. Wells wrote his own epitaph: “God damn you all, I told you so.”
-Gertrude Stein referred to orgasms as “cows.”
-When Virginia Woolf was a child, she got slapped in the face by Rodin because she looked at one of his unfinished sculptures.
-Kafka spent time at a nudist health spa, where he became known as “the man in the swimming trunks.”
-When a hedgehog got caught in Agatha Christie’s tennis nets, she chloroformed it by herself and set it free.
-J.R.R. Tolkien invented fourteen languages, each with their own alphabet.
-At a party, F. Scott Fitzgerald went around collecting guests’ watches and jewelry. He then boiled everything in a pot of tomato soup.
-Ayn Rand described Charlie’s Angels as “the only romantic show on television today.”
-In a speech in 1990, Kurt Vonnegut said that he owed the sucess of his career to the firebombing at Dresden, where 25,000 to 250,000 people died. “I got about five dollars for each corpse, counting my fee tonight,” he said.
-After working as an editor for nineteen years, Toni Morrisson still reads the paper with a red pencil so she can copyedit it.
-Sylvia Plath took an IQ test in 1944, and scored a genius-level 166.
-Dylan Thomas’s last words were, “I just had eighteen straight scotches. I think that’s the record…After thirty-nine years, this is all I’ve done.”

Verdict: four out of five stars

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