I have a guilty pleasure. One that I think a lot of others share, but one that is embarrassing none the less:
I love gossip.
Not the mean hurtful kind of gossip, but the kind where you become completely absorbed in finding out how the other side lives.
I’m talking celebrity gossip; the juicy drama you watch on reality TV, or the riveting gossip you read in Star, National Enquirer, or OK! Magazine (all of which you can read through Zinio).
This guilty pleasure of mine made me wonder what kind of gossip I could dig up on authors that we own here at Des Plaines Public Library.
Lord Byron, was a poet and prominent figure in the Romantic Movement, but he also had an affair which then led to a tumultuous breakup with Caroline Lamb? After the couple broke up, Caroline requested a painting of Byron that his publisher owned. She wanted the painting so bad that she forged a letter from Byron saying that she could take any painting that she wanted. His publisher, believing the letter to be real, gave the painting to Caroline, no questions asked. Byron was not pleased when he found this out! After a lot of arguing, the two of them finally came up with an agreement. Caroline would give Byron back the painting in exchange for a lock of his hair. Byron, knowing this was the only way to get the painting back, agreed BUT instead of sending her a lock of his own hair, he sent her a lock of his new girlfriend’s. Caroline had no idea that the lock of hair wasn’t his and sent the painting back as a result.
Another author with an interesting past was William Burroughs. Burroughs, best known for his novels, short stories, and spoken word, shot his wife, Joan Vollmer, dead on accident during a game of “William Tell”? Burroughs always had a gun on him, having been fond of them since a pretty young age so one night the two of them got drunk together and decided to play a game of “William Tell”. They decided it would be fun to try to see if he could shoot a glass off of the top of Joan’s head. Unfortunately Burroughs missed and shot her instead. He only went to jail for 13 days, however. His family bribed the police to let him out early on bail where he then fled the country. Eventually Burroughs returned to the states to work on his writing.
You may know Anne Perry as a well known mystery writer from the U.K., but did you know that before she became Anne Perry, she was Juliet Marion Hulme, a teenager who was convicted of aiding in the murder of her friend, Pauline Parker’s, mother? Juliet and her friend Pauline were were inseparable. Bonding over the fact that both girls grew up having ailments, they created their own fantasy world where the two of them could escape. Their parents did not like the girls friendship so the tried to separate them. In response to their parents’ efforts, the girls came up with a plan to kill Pauline’s mother. Pauline’s mother’s body was found later that year and the girls were found guilty in trial. Both Anne and her friend served five and a half years in jail. It was revealed that Anne Perry was the grown-up Juliet Hulme a few months after the release of the 1994 movie, Heavenly Creatures, a movie based on the story of the murder.
The last author I found information on was J.K. Rowling. I bet most of you have read Harry Potter but did you know that J.K. Rowling added the K to her name as a suggestion from her publisher? J.K. Rowling, the author behind the highly successful Harry Potter books, was not born with a middle name. Her full name is Joanne Rowling, but when she first started trying to get her book published, the publisher suggested that having a wizarding book published by a woman would sell less copies than one published by a man. Thus, J.K. Rowling was created; the “K” serving as a tribute to her grandmother Kathleen. Most people today know that J.K. is a woman, but I wonder if this stunt actually played some kind of role in her success.
If you found any of these facts interesting or wanted to find out something about your favorite author, you could use resources that we own here at DPPL such as Biography in Context, Masterfile, or Virtual Reference Library.
Or you can come up to the 4th floor reference desk to have one of the librarians do the research for you!