Monday, June 30, 2008

Birth of the Book Tour

On this day in 1857 Charles Dickens gave his very first public reading. From Writer’s Almanac:
It was on this day in 1857 that Charles Dickens gave his first public reading (books by this author). He did this for several reasons: to get away from marital discord at home, because he loved to perform in front of an audience, and because he could make more money reading than he could by writing. His first reading, of A Christmas Carol, was held at Saint Martin's Hall in London, and it was so successful that Charles Dickens became one of the first authors to go on huge, international book tours, performing his own work.
I’m not quite sure what the Boz was doing reading A Christmas Carol in late June. Maybe it’s just that people haven’t changed as much as we sometimes think.

(For instance, Steve Miller has done an awful lot since
Space Cowboy, but fans don't like to think about that too hard. The Pompatus of Love and all of that.)

Though a lot of Dickens’ writing had already been published in novel form --
Nicholas Nickleby, Oliver Twist, Bleak House and The Pickwick Papers among them -- it’s possible his reading public demanded his most popular, not necessarily his best.

One can imagine Sam Clemens at one of these early readings, watching the skillful orator from England and saying, “Heck! I could do that.” (It probably really would have been “heck” too, dontcha think?) Six years later, he’d reinvent himself as
Mark Twain and, eventually, do his own version of the book tour.

And while we’re peeking at Writer’s Almanac, it was on this day in 1936 that Margaret Mitchell gave her first draft of Gone With the Wind to her editors:
They asked Mitchell to change the original title, “Tomorrow Is Another Day,” because at the time there were already 13 books in print with the word “tomorrow” in the title.
And remember: 1936. How did they even know there were 13 books with
“tomorrow” in the title? It’s not like they could Google it. Gone With the Wind is a way better title anyway. And I don’t know about you, but it’s nearly impossible for me to think of “Scarlett” as “Pansy.”


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually, Margaret Mitchell turned over her draft of "Gone With the Wind" to Macmillan editor Harold Latham in April 1935.

June 30, 1936, was the official publication day for her novel.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 5:06:00 AM PDT  
Blogger Linda L. Richards said...

Good catch! Thanks for taking the time to point that out.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008 at 10:05:00 AM PDT  

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