Early Video Interview with J.K. Rowling - Over the Moon at Selling 30,000 Books!

I just came across this early interview with J.K. Rowling (probably from late 1998 or early 1999). She's sitting in the now famous Edinburgh House cafe in Edinburgh where she wrote the early Harry Potter books. She looks, frankly, exhausted, but hugely excited to have sold 30,000 copies of her first two books - especially as her agent told her, "there's not much money in children's books." She goes on to say that she's always wanted to write but "my realistic side had not allowed me to dream about half of what has happened to me," - this in reference to her agent selling the first two Harry Potter books to eight countries so, as she says with huge excitement, "it will be translated in France, Germany, Greece, Holland, Italy and Finland ... I love the idea of saying I'm big in Finland!"

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This Year in History - 1910

For the last few years, when the holiday season comes around, we've looked back to previous centuries for the newsworthy events of the year. Today, please join me on a whistle stop tour 100 years back in time to 1910 ....

As Haley's Comet makes its stately way across the night skies, the monarchies of Europe are in flux: While Britain celebrates the coronation of George V, the last king of Portugal flees his country; further east, the Balkan country of Montenegro begins a shortlived period as an independent kingdom under the rule of Nicholas I, while in neighboring Albania, the weakened Ottoman empire attempts to quell an uprising.

Map of Africa 1914Africa is a patchwork of European colonies with just Liberia and Ethiopia remaining independent. Before the year is ended, Egypt will have seen Boutros Ghali, its first native-born prime minister, assassinated; France will be at war with the Ouaddai Kingdom over parts of what are now Chad and Sudan; and the newly created Union of South Africa will be established as a dominion of the British Empire.

In North America, the Mexican Revolution to oust dictator Porfirio Díaz begins, leading to a decade of civil war. In the USA, race riots erupt across much of the country on July 4, following African-American heavyweight boxer Jack Johnson's win against his white contender James J Jeffries.

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This Year in History: 1709

For the last few years, when the vacation and holiday seasons come around and the news stories start to dry up, I've looked back in time to previous centuries to find something newsworthy. Today, please join me on a whistle stop tour 300 years back in time to the year 1709 ....

An usually cold weather front hit Northern Europe on January 6 (believed to be the coldest period for 500 years). The Great Freeze lasted three months but the effects were felt all year. The seas around the coast of Britain and Northern France froze over, crops failed and in Paris alone 24,000 died. In London, the Thames froze solid and markets took place on the ice. Some suggest that the freeze was caused by volcanic eruptions of Mount Fuji in Japan and, to a lesser extent, Santorini and Vesuvius in Europe.

Although it was a very cold winter it was not entirely out of character – 1709 was one of the 24 winters between 1408 and 1814 (a period broadly known as the "Little Ice Age") in which the Thames froze in London. Although the people at the time probably didn't think much of the weather, music lovers have reason to be grateful for the Little Ice Age as Antonio Stradivari created his finest instruments between 1698 and 1725 and it has been proposed that the particularly cold climate caused the wood used in his violins to be denser than in warmer periods, contributing to the tone of his instruments.

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This Year in History - 1609

For the last few years, when the vacation and holiday seasons come around and the news stories start to dry up, I've looked back in time to previous centuries to find something newsworthy. Today, please join me on a whistle stop tour 400 years back in time to the year 1609 ....

The Renaissance is in full swing. While Galileo demonstrates his first telescope to Venetian lawmakers and Cornelius Drebbel invents the thermostat, Johannes Kepler is busy publishing his first two laws of planetary motion. Meanwhile Henry Hudson is off adventuring, becoming the first European to see Delaware Bay and the Hudson River. Not far away, seven ships arrive at the Jamestown colony reporting the sad demise of their flagship, the Sea Venture, wrecked off the coast of the uninhabited island of Bermuda. The survivors, including writer William Strachey, eventually reach Virginia ten months later in two small ships they built while marooned on the island. Strachey's account of the wreck is believed to be the inspiration for Shakespeare's The Tempest (1610-11).

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This Year in History - 1908

Davina Morgan-Witts, BookBrowse editor

Each year, as the holiday season comes around and news becomes thin on the ground, we look back into history for a snapshot of the news in centuries past .....

Literary highlights (from a modern perspective) published in 1908, one hundred years ago, include The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame; War of the Classes and The Iron Heel by Jack London; Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery; The Tale of Jemima Puddle-Duck by Beatrix Potter; A Modern Utopia and The War in the Air by H G Wells; My Double Life by Sarah Bernhardt; The Man Who Was Thursday and All Things Considered by G K Chesterton;  A Room With a View by E M Forster; Dorothy and the Wizard of Oz by L Frank Baum; and the births of Ian Fleming and Louis L'Amour.  The Nobel Prize for Literature was won by German philosopher Rudolf Christoph Eucken.

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This Year in History - 1808

Davina Morgan-Witts, BookBrowse editor

Each year, as the holiday season comes around and news becomes thin on the ground, we look back into history for a snapshot of the news in centuries past. This time we travel to 1808:

In the USA, the Theatre St Philip opened in New Orleans.  In Germany, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe published the first part of Faust. In Britain, the first Royal Opera House in Covent Garden was destroyed by fire and Sir Walter Scott published Marmion, an epic poem about the Battle of Flodden Field.  In France, Francois Marie Charles Fourier (credited by modern scholars with originating the word feminisme) argued in his Theory of the Four Movements that the extension of the liberty of women was the general principle of all social progress, though he disdained 'equal rights'. Followers of Fourier would go on to establish about 30 socialist colonies based on his principles in various parts of the USA.

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