Friday, April 3, 2009

Washington Irving, Jesse James, Graham Greene

Washington Irving, America's first literary celebrity, was born on this day in 1783. He was also the godfather of the New York Knicks. He was 37 when he published Rip Van Winkle and the Legend of Sleepy Hollow. He appears on page 137 of A Book of Ages.

Bank robber Jesse James was murdered on this day in 1882, which was either a bloody shame or served him right, depending which legends you believe. He was hanging up a picture at the time. Mr. James appears in A Book of Ages at ages 15, 29 and 34. He is often confused with Billy the Kid. Also, occasionally, with Henry James; the two were not related.

Graham Greene died on this day in 1991. Novelist, Catholic, spy, adulterer. He never won the Nobel Prize for literature, but would probably have had conflicted feelings about it if he had; he did about everything else. He appears at ages 15, 20, 29, 35, 36, 42 and 86 in A Book of Ages. A life filled with ironic anecdotes.

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