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Five lost tales by Daphne du Maurier are included in The Doll: Short Stories, published this month in the UK and scheduled for release in the US this fall. A bookshop owner in Fowey, England, the author’s hometown, located the stories after years of searching for them in vintage magazines. Among them are “The Doll,” a dark, sexually charged story mentioned in du Maurier’s autobiography, and “The Happy Valley,” which has plot elements similar to those later used in Rebecca, du Maurier’s best-known work and the first major gothic romance of the 20th century.

The seascapes and quaint fishing villages of the windswept Cornish Riviera on the south coast of Cornwall inspired du Maurier, who lived much of her life there and used the dramatic backdrop in her fiction. Kicking off tomorrow in the harbor resort town of Fowey is the Daphne du Maurier Festival of Arts and Literature, which runs through May 21st on the grounds of the luxurious Fowey Hall Hotel (right).

Some of the events and activities on the agenda:

– Talks and signings, including “The Brontë Connection,” a discussion on how Cornwall influenced Charlotte and Emily Brontë, given by author Angela Crowe, a trustee of the Brontë Parsonage Museum in Haworth

– A tea hosted at Hidden Valley Gardens, close to the railway tunnel featured in du Maurier’s House on the Strand

– A film show featuring footage of du Maurier and other writers with a link to Cornwall

– “Du Maurier’s Fowey,” “Rebecca and du Maurier’s Coastline,” and other themed walking tours given by Cornish Riviera Guides

– And a whole lot more, including musical performances and dance lessons

Click here for a brochure of the full schedule and details on times, locations, and ticket prices.

If a trip to Cornwall isn’t in the cards this month, Cornish Riviera Guides offers a plethora of tours year round. One is “Literary Links,” an excursion that highlights the area’s literary legacy. Along with du Maurier, other writers with a Cornwall connection are Rosamund Pilcher and Virginia Woolfe.

[Photo © Fowey Hall Hotel]

The Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is going all out for its 50th season, with a line-up of stage productions on both sides of the Atlantic and a host of other festivities. Some of the highlights:

– Productions at the recently revamped Swan Theatre and the Royal Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford-upon-Avon, England, the Bard’s birthplace. Macbeth and The Merchant of Venice (starring Patrick Stewart as Shylock) are among the plays being staged this season, which runs from April through November.

– A host of lectures and workshops, a series of Sunday Talks, and exhibitions such as “A History of the RSC in 50 Objects” (April 4 – December 31). Among the items to be featured is a costume worn by Sir Ian McKellen in a 1976 production of Macbeth.

– A confectionary anniversary tribute, “Sweet Celebrations” (April 9 – July 24). With assistance from visitors, artist Shane will transform a room at the theatre into a large birthday cake by covering the walls with sugar tiles, icing, and sweets.

– “Open Day” on June 12, when the RSC invites the public to learn about how its productions are made. (If you can’t make it that day but are interested in finding out what goes on behind the scenes, there is a fun and informative virtual tour on the company’s website that illuminates everything from weapons to wigs.)

– Outdoor entertainment around town and along the River Avon

– A whirlwind staging of five plays in six weeks in New York City during the Lincoln Center Festival.  The RSC theatre-lover’s marathon line-up is As You Like It, Romeo & Juliet, Julius Ceasar, King Lear, and The Winter’s Tale.

Check out the full schedule of anniversary celebrations here.

Scotland is pulling out all the stops to honor its national bard.

This weekend is the grand opening celebration of the revamped Robert Burns Birthplace Museum. Set on 10 acres in Alloway, Ayrshire (a short bus ride from Glasgow), it replaces what was formerly the Burns National Heritage Park and encompasses several historic sites related to the poet. There is free admission tomorrow, January 22, along with live music, poetry readings, and fireworks.

The new museum building showcases more than 5,000 artifacts, some being unveiled to the public for the first time. Among the treasures are a manuscript of the original copy of “Auld Lange Syne” and a window pane from an old inn that Burns inscibred with a stanza of poetry. Also located on the museum grounds are the tiny, thatched-roof cottage (right) where Burns was born in 1759, Auld Kirk, the 16th-century ruins of a church featured in “Tam O’Shanter,” and other literary landmarks.  

The revelry continues on Tuesday, January 25, when bibliophiles commemorate the poet during Burns Night. The first recorded Burns Night Supper took place in 1801, and since then the evening’s line-up has barely changed. A traditional meal of haggis (sheep organ meats blended with oatmeal and spices), neeps and tatties (turnips and potatoes) is served, washed down with whiskey. Festivities are capped off with the joining of hands and the singing of the bard’s great song of parting, “Auld Lang Syne.”

Restaurants, pubs, hotels, and dining halls all over Scotland celebrate this special night. London establishments are getting in on the act, too. Stateside, check to see if there are Burns Night festivities in your town. If you live in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts, The Haven restaurant is putting on feasts January 24-26.

If you’d like to host your own gathering, has a Burns Supper Guide with tips on food, drink, attire, and entertainment. For iPhone users, the guide is included on a free Robert Burns App along with a biography, visual timeline of the bard’s life, and more than 500 poems and love songs.

[Photos: top © Robert Burns Birthplace Museum; cottage: © Joni Rendon; bottom two: ©]

To Kill a Mockingbird fans, pack your bags. If ever there was perfect time to visit Monroeville, Alabama—Harper Lee’s hometown and the model for the fictional Maycomb—it’s next month. July 1 marks the 50th anniversary of the book’s publication, and “Alabama’s literary capital” is pulling out all the stops during a celebratory weekend July 8–11.

Many of the events are taking place at the Old Courthouse (below right), the site of the famed courtroom scene in To Kill a Mockingbird and now a museum with an exhibit devoted to Lee and another to her childhood friend, Truman Capote (on whom Mockingbird’s Dill is based).

The courtroom (below left) has been restored to its 1930s-era appearance, and it’s where a marathon reading of the novel will take place as part of the weekend’s festivities on July 9 & 10. (Take a seat in the balcony like Scout and Jem do in the novel.) Also on the agenda are a walking tour of sites associated with Lee and Capote (July 9) and a birthday party on the Old Courthouse lawn (July 12). Click here for the full schedule.

If you can’t make it to Monroeville, there are other places to mark the literary milestone. HarperCollins Publishers has lined up an impressive 50 events at bookstores, libraries, and other venues across the country, beginning June 11 and continuing through the end of September. Stop by Oblong Books in Rhinebeck, New York, for mocktails and music by the Boo Radleys on July 12. Attend a reenactment of the novel’s famed courtroom scene at Bookshop Santa Cruz in Santa Cruz, California, on July 20. Check out the details for these and other events—movie screenings, speaking series, and a whole lot more—at

[Photos © Monroe County Heritage Museums]

This weekend, enjoy a spring stroll on the Emily Dickinson Poetry Walk. On Saturday, May 15, the Emily Dickinson Museum (left) in Amherst, Massachusetts, is hosting the annual event, along with an open house, to commemorate the anniversary of the  poet’s death (May 15, 1886). Readings of Dickinson’s works will take place at six historic sites in Amherst. The walk begins at 1 p.m. in the museum’s Homestead garden and ends at Dickinson’s grave in West Cemetery.

The walk can be joined at any point. And for those who would like to show off their oratory skills, participants are invited to read the featured poems. Assignments will be distribtued on a first-come, first-served basis at the Homestead beginning at 12:45 p.m. The walk is free of charge, and so is admission to the museum’s Open House from 3 to 4 p.m.

The poet is also the focus of an exhibit at the New York Botanical Garden in New York City. “Emily Dickinson’s Garden: The Poetry of Flowers” includes a re-creation of her mid-19th century flower garden with tulips, lilacs, lilies, jasmine, and other blooms, along with selections of her nature-themed poetry and a replica of The Homestead, the Dickinson family abode. The exhibit is on view through June 13.

Starting today in Stratford-upon-Avon is the annual birthday extravaganza for the Bard. Shakespeare was born in the English town 446 years ago. The exact date of his birth is unknown, but it’s thought to be April 23rd — the same date on which he passed away 52 years later in 1616.

Four days of festivities are sponsored by the Shakespeare Birthplace Trust and the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC). So what’s taking place? RSC actors performing the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet in various locations around town and also giving renditions of Shakespeare’s sonnets during ferry boat rides along the River Avon; themed walking tours; the “Sonnet Sleuth,” a literary scavenger hunt; and a whole lot more. The centerpiece of the celebrations is a parade on Saturday through the streets of Stratford, along a three-mile route that begins at the playwright’s birthplace (above) and ends at Holy Trinity Church, the site of his baptism and burial.

For more information visit

2010 is the year of Mark Twain. April 21 marks the centennial of the writer’s death and November 30 the 175th anniversary of his birth. To commemorate the occasions, festivities are taking place at several sites in the U.S. related to the novelist, humorist, and travel writer. If you join in the literary revelry, be sure to enjoy yourself. Twain wasn’t fond of commemorative occasions, but he also declared that “a good and wholesome thing is a little harmless fun in this world.”

The Mark Twain House & Museum — an atmospheric Victorian Gothic mansion where the writer put down roots for 16 years — is going all out to celebrate Twain this year. Their line-up of events includes “The Mark Twain Séance” on April 21, with a recreation of a Victorian-era séance and a tour of the house led by a ghost investigator. Running through January 2011 is the exhibit “Legacy,” which traces Twain’s influence on America and the world. It explores how Twain has been perceived by the public over the years and features letters from celebrities expressing their thoughts about the writer—like humorist Roy Blount, Jr., who summed it up in three words: “He’s still funny!”

Twain described Hannibal as “a boy’s paradise,” and he immortalized the Mississippi River town as St. Petersburg in The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Among the 2010 events at the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum is a film festival; on the first Friday of each month a film version of one of Twain’s works is screened. At noon on April 21 is the “Time Capsule Ceremony.” Museum staffers will be joined by the characters Tom and Becky as they bury a time capsule filled with items related to the raconteur.

On display at the Center for Mark Twain Studies at Elmira College is Twain’s octagon-shaped writing studio (John Steinbeck was later inspired to create a similar workspace at his Long Island home). Special happenings in Elmira, where Twain spent summers for nearly two decades, include a reading of his correspondence on April 15, a reenactment of his burial at the town’s Woodlawn Cemetery on April 24, and “Dine Like Twain Dinners” featuring his family’s recipes April 21-23.

Other places to tap into Twain’s legacy: The Mark Twain Birthplace State Historic Site in Florida, Missouri (temporarily closed for repairs), and the Mark Twain Museum at the Territorial Enterprise in Virginia City, Nevada, a silver mining town where he began using his famous pseudonym while working as a newspaper reporter.

For a calendar listing of Twain events, visit

[Photos ©Mark Twain House & Museum, Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum, and Center for Mark Twain Studies/Elmira College]

If you’re up for an all-nighter, the New Bedford Whaling Museum in New Bedford, Massachusetts, is hosting its annual marathon reading of Herman Melville’s Moby-Dick this weekend. More than 100 bibliophiles will read passages from the novel. The event begins on Saturday, January 9th, at noon when a young sailor decked in 19th-century garb utters the opening lines of the story (“Call me Ishmael”) and concludes about 24 hours later. Much-needed coffee and snacks will be served throughout the night.

On January 3, 1841, Herman Melville sailed from New Bedford aboard a ship headed for the Pacific. He later featured the historic whaling port, which was burned by British forces during the Revolutionary War, in Moby-Dick. “The town itself is perhaps the dearest place to live in, in all New England,” declared Melville in his epic tale.

If the current frigid weather in New England is a deterrent, plan a visit to the seaside town during the warmer months. “In summer time, the town is sweet to see; full of fine maples—long avenues of green and gold,” wrote Melville. “And in August, high in air, the beautiful and bountiful horse-chestnuts, candelabra-wise, proffer the passer-by their tapering upright cones of congregated blossoms. So omnipotent is art; which in many a district of New Bedford has superinduced bright terraces of flowers upon the barren refuse rocks thrown aside at creation’s final day.”

The museum, whose mission is to illuminate the interaction of humans with whales, has a guide listing 38 of its artifacts and how they relate to Moby-Dick.

Lodging options in New Bedford include the bed-and-breakfast Melville House (right). The restored Italian Empire-style house was once owned by Melville’s sister, Katherine, who often had her sibling to stay. You can slumber in the Herman Melville Room, where a portrait of the scribe hangs above an antique writing desk. –Shannon McKenna Schmidt

[Photo © Melville House]

scrooge_nose_editThis year, Christmas in London is taking on a decidedly Dickensian tone as the city gears up for the release of the blockbuster Disney movie, A Christmas Carol, starring Jim Carrey, Colin Firth and Bob Hoskins. Set in London in 1843, Charles Dickens’ classic Christmas tale centers on Ebenezer Scrooge, a loney and bitter old miser visited by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future. Eventually, he opens his heart and discovers the joyous spirit of the season.   

Events across the capital will seek to capture that magical spirit starting Tuesday, when the movie premieres to a worldwide audience from right here in London. The stars will be walking the red carpet in Leicester Square shortly after they preside overox_st_xmas_lights_long_fireworks London’s city-wide Christmas Carol-themed lights switch-on and celebration, London’s Christmas Carol”, at 5:00 p.m. at various locations around town. (I’ll be situated on Regent Street and then walking over to Leicester Square to see Andrea Bocelli and the St. Paul’s choir lead London’s attempt to break the world record for the biggest ever Christmas Carol sing-along).

Tickets to the movie premiere at several theatres in Leicester Square are still available at a cost of £50, but you can enjoy the light switch-on festivities for free. –Joni Rendon

twain-house-2In today’s Hartford Courant, columnist Tom Condon looks ahead to 2010 and a trio of anniversaries related to writer and “world citizen” Mark Twain: the 125th anniversary of the publication of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn in February, the 100th anniversary of his death in April, and the 175th anniversary of his birth in November. 

Condon notes that the raconteur wasn’t fond of commemorative occasions and once said, “What ought to be done to the man who invented the celebrating of anniversaries? Mere killing would be too light.” But since Twain isn’t here to object, Condon says, Hartford—the city where the scribe spent 16 years and penned some of his most famous works—”should do this up big.” Events will take place throughout the year, many of them in April for the centennial of Twain’s death, including special exhibits at the Mark Twain House and Museum (above) in Hartford.

Stayed tuned for more information about Mark Twain 2010. We’ll be posting details on events and festivites at Twain sites across the country.

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I love browsing at the library with no specific titles in mind, just seeing what catches my eye. Like these three novels, all of which I’m excited to read. But I may have been a bit overzealous because first I need to finish the three other books I have going right now. #readingresponsibilities #booksbooksbooks #milkman #annaburns #theparagonhotel #lyndsayfaye #unmarriageable #soniahkamal #bookstack #bookstagram #booksofig #igreads #bookwormproblems #library #librarybooks #hobokenlibrary @hobokenlibrary #springreads @graywolfpress @penguinrandomhouse @putnambooks @lyndsayfaye @soniahkamal
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These are some of the titles I talked about during a conversation on literary travel with @thebooktrail. Some relate to favorite destinations, like St. Malo, the coastal French town used as a setting in Anthony Doerr’s World War II-set novel All the Light We Cannot See, while another ties in to a place that’s high on my literary travel bucket list: Samoa, the South Seas island where Robert Louis Stevenson spent his last years, vividly depicted in Nancy Horan’s Under the Wide and Starry Sky. The novel follows the globetrotting writer and his wife, Fanny Osbourne, during a life of romance and adventure. Q&A is in the site’s “Authors on Location” section. #noveldestinations #literarytravel #books #bookstagram #booksofig #igreads #bookpile #allthelightwecannotsee #underthewideandstarrysky #thelastcastle #thehouseofmirth #ngaiomarsh #authorsofinstagram #thebooktrail

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