In the spirit of the theory of six degrees of separation – that any two people in the world can be connected to one another through six relationships – we bring you what will become a semi-regular feature called “Six Degrees of the Library Collection”. You might be surprised how your favourite book can connect you to a wide world of reading.
September 15th is the birthday of legendary British Mystery Author Agatha Christie. Christie is considered by the Guinness Book of the World Records to be the bestselling author of all time. There are so many interesting factoids from Christie’s illustrious career it’s hard to know where to begin, but I guess I’ll chose that Christie was a founding member of something called the Detection Club: a society formed in 1928 or 1930 (sources vary) by a group of British mystery authors.
In the late 1970s, Derek Raymond left the UK and lived in France for a number of years and stopped writing for a period. During this time he worked in several jobs, including as a vineyard labourer. Although Raymond didn’t go down this road, other British expats living in France have made quite a career out of writing about their time living there. A modern example is that of Peter Mayle, who wrote children’s educational books before turning to memoir and documenting his time in France in the 1989 book A Year in Provence.
Mayle’s depiction of life in France was so popular that the French government honoured him with a knighthood in France’s Legion of Honour. Although such knighthoods only officially go to French citizens, those of other nationalities are frequently given honourary recognition. Mayle is not the only British author to have received such an nod. This year Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling was similarly honoured with French president Sarkozy noting that Rowling has “helped give young people back the taste for reading and writing.”
Joanne Kathleen (apparently her grandmother’s name, not her own) Rowling might be a huge household name now and a face that children around the world recognize, but prior to the 1997 release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Rowling’s publisher reportedly worried that boys would not want to read a book by a woman, and so hid her gender by using her initials on book covers. The antiquated fear is a strange quirk of Rowling’s success story that ties her to some of Britian’s most famous female authors of the past including Mary Anne Evans, who is better known as George Eliot.