What is Charles Dickens famous for?

Discover the spellbinding world of Demon Copperhead, Barbara Kingsolvers award-winning novel that echoes Dickens' timeless themes of poverty, survival, and the transformative power of storytelling.


About the author

parban Kingsolver o an American writer and political activist renowned for her powerful novels that delve into the resilience of individuals navigating challenging environments and finding beauty amidst hunh drcumstances in 2000, she founded the Bellwether Prize, a literary award aimed at proinoting works that drive social change. Having grown up in rural Kentucky US, and briefly livest in Africa during her early childhood, Kingsolver draws inspiration from diverse backgrounds

Becoming a writer

Her writing journey began in the mid-1980s when she worked as a science writer for a university, eventually transitioning into freelance feature writing It was a timing point when she won a local Phoenix newspapers short stong contest, leading her to pursue a full-time career in fiction writing.

Throughout her career. Kingsolver has produced influential works that have captivated readers worldwide. Some of her notable novels include The Bean Trees (1988) The Poisonwood Bible (1998). The Laqura (2009), and Demon Copperhead (2022) Vintage engraving of a scene from the Charles Dickens novel David Copperfield llustration by Fred Bamard GETTY IMAGES

Making history

Kingsolver recentlig auded more feathers to her literary cap with Do prestigious awards celebrating her novel Demon Copperhead Notably she became the first author to win the Women's Prize for Fiction bvice having previously receives the honour in 2010 for her autaimest work. The Lacuna. This modem reimagining of Charles Dickens's David Copperfield is set in the picturesque Appalachian Mountains of Virginia, where the protagonist. a lroy bom in a trailer park embarks on a journey filled with foster care, labour exploitation, addiction, love. and heartache. Speaking about the book, she shared that much Like Dickens, the crafted her novel to shed light on the hardships of poverty and its impact on children, issues that have plagued our society for centures The Women's Prize for Fiction recognises outstanding. ambitious original fiction" written in English by female writers from around the world. Continuing her winning streak, Kingsolvers modem reimagining of English author Charles Dickens's classic won the fiction category of the James Tait Black Prize this year. This illustrious literary award. established in 1919 and presented by the University of Edinburgh, holds the distinction of being one of the UK's longest-running and most esteemed accolades. What sets this prize apart is its unique judging panel, consisting of literature scholars and students. ensuring a deep appreciation for the art of writing.

When inspiration strikes

During an interview Kingsolver shared the story behind the inception of her Latest novel She recounted a moment four years ago when she had just finished a book tour in the UK for her previous work Unsheltered and had a few days before her return flight home Seizing the opportunity, she and her husband decided to stay at Bleak House, a clifftop retreat perched above Viking Bay in Broadstairs, the very place where Charles Dickens had penned David Copperfield As fate would have it, they arrived during a hailstormy weekend in November, and the location was deserted. As she wandered through the rooms, curiosity led her to explore Dickens's desk and gaze out over the saune magnificent coastline he once beheld in this atmospheric setting the spint of the great author seemed to reach out to her She recousted "Anil tvars when he said. Look to the child. Let the child tell the Inspired by this serendipitous encounter, the author entbarked on her literary journey, giving life to the novel Demon Copperhead Demon Copperhead Set in the mountains of southern Appaladin, Demon Copperhead follows the gripping story of a boy bom to a struggling teenage single mother facing the harsh realities of foster care, child labour, and heartbreak Written in the protagonists raw and unyielding voice. the novel addresses the invisibility of rural communities in a world fixated on urban glamour. Drawing inspiration from Charles Dickens's David Copperfield Kingsolver weaves a tale of anger, compassion, and the transformative power of storytelling The journey of this titular character gives voice to a new generation of lost souls born into beautiful yet challenging places they can not fathom leaving behind.

David Copperfield

  • David Copperficial was first palaketa serial from 1840 to 1850 and later compiled its
  • it holds the distinction of bring English author Charles Dickens's favourite anong his works
  • The novel u nimated in the first person by the protagonist, a Copperfield reflecting on his lifes journey Bons in Blunderstone Suffolk LIK, shortly after his fathers death Davul is raised by his mather and the caring housekeeper, Clara Peggotty. The story takes readers through David's difficult upbringing under the cruel Mr Edward Mundstone (his stepfather) and his eventual adventures and self-discovery on the path to becoming a successful novelist. It is a poignant coming-of-age tale depicting a young man's transformation from a challenging childhood to finding his purpose in life.

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What are the Astronomers, who helped enhance our understanding of the cosmos?

We have always been looking up, peering into the sky, trying to find answers to the many questions about the universe. Many astronomers have tried to unravel the mysteries of the universe. From believing that Earth was flat and the planets revolved around it, we have come a long way. Let's take a look at some of history's greatest astronomers who helped enhance our understanding of the Cosmos.

From believing that the Earth was flat and the planets revolved around it, we have come a long way.Some 2000 years ago, when it was widely believed that the world was flat, Greek mathematician and astronomer Eratosthenes (276 BC-194 BC) calculated the Earth's circumference. In those days, the very act of coming up with scientific thoughts which were at odds with the ones in existence was not encouraged. The theory that the Earth revolved around the Sun was itself considered heretical by the religious and after a trial, Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei was kept under house arrest until his death. Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus didn't publish his magnum opus "De revolutions orbium coelestium" (On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres) until he was on his deathbed. Let's take a look at some of history's greatest astronomers who threw new light on the cosmos.


 Astronomer and mathematician Claudius Ptolemy authored several scientific teas and is noted for his Ptolemaic system. It was a geocentric (Earth-centred) model of the universe, where the sun, stars, and other planets revolved around Earth. This model was used for a long period, for over 1200 years, until the heliocentric view of the solar system was established. Although his model of the universe was wrong, his work and the scientific texts he authored helped astronomers make predictions of planetary positions and solar and lunar eclipses. "The Almagest, a comprehensive treatise on the movements of the stars and planets, was published in the 2nd Century. It is divided into 13 books. This manual served as the basic guide for Islamic and European astronomers. He also catalogued 48 constellations. 


 Nicolaus Copernicus changed the way scientists viewed the solar system. Back in the 16th Century, he came up with a model of the solar system where the Earth revolved around the Sun: it was the revolutionary heliocentric model. He removed Earth from the centre of the universe and replaced it with the Sun! He also didn't believe in the Ptolemaic model of the planets travelling in circular orbits around the Earth. He also explained the retrograde motion of the planets (retrograde motion is when planets appear to move in the opposite direction of the stars). When the Polish astronomer was 70, he published his book "De Revolutions Orbium Coelestium" ("On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres"), on his deathbed. It took over a century for his idea to gain credence.


Optical astronomy began with Galileo Galilei. Born in Italy, Galilei is credited with creating the optical telescope. In fact, what he did was improve upon the existing models. He came up with his first telescope in 1609, modelling it after the telescopes produced in other parts of Europe. But here is the catch. Those telescopes could magnify objects only three times. Galileo came up with a telescope that could magnify objects 20 times. He then pointed it towards the sky, coming up with the greatest discoveries ever. He discovered the four primary moons of Jupiter which are referred to as the Galilean moons. He also discovered the rings of Saturn. Even though the theory of Earth circling the Sun had been around since Copernicus’ time, when Galileo defended it, he was kept under house arrest till the end of his lifetime.


Danish astronomer Johannes Kepler modified the Copernican view of the solar system and changed it radically. He deduced that the planets travelled in elliptical orbits, one of the most revolutionary ideas at the time, replacing Copernicus view that they travelled in circular objects. He came up with three revolutionary laws involving the motions of planets these three laws make him a towering figure in astronomy. Kepler also observed a supernova in 1604. It is now called Kepler's Nova.

EDMOND HALLEY (1656-1742)

"Halley's comet is perhaps a term you would have heard quite often. English astronomer Edmond Halley never saw the comet named after him. Officially called 1P/Halley, Halley's  comet  is a periodic comet that passes by the Earth once every 76 years (roughly). This famed comet will return in 2061. It was Halley's mathematical prediction of the comet's return that made him a towering figure among the list of astronomers. He said that the comet that appeared in 1456, 1531, 1607, and 1682 were all the same and that it would return in 1758. Halley was never around to witness this, but the world saw the comet and its return. The comet was later named in his honour. One of the earliest catalogues of the southern sky was also produced by Halley. In 1676, he sailed to the island St. Helena, South Atlantic Ocean. There he spent a year measuring the position of stars and came up with the first catalogue of the southern sky! Seen here is a painting of the astronomer. 


Musician-tumed astronomer William Herschel started exploring the skies with his sister Caroline quite late in his career but eventually, he compiled a catalogue of 2.500 celestial objects The German astronomer discoverest the planet Uranus and several moons of other planets it was during his mid 30s that he startet looking up and exploring the cosmos In 1759. Herschel left Germany and moved to England where he started teaching music When Herschels interest in astronomy grew, rented a telescope. He then went ahead and built himself a large telescope to watch the celestial bodies. His sister Caroline assisted him until Herschel's death and also became the first woman to discover a comet. She eventually discovered eight of them. When Herschel found a small object in the night sky, he explored further and found out that it was a planet. The Uranus was thus discovered. He was knighted by the monarch after the discovery and was appointed the court astronomer. Following this he gave up his music career and devoted himself to the skies. He found the moons of Uranus and Saturn Craters on the moon. Mars and Mimas (Saturn's moon) are named after the astronomer.


Known as the "census taker of the sky, American astronomer Annie Jump Cannon made stellar contributions to the field of astronomy. She classified around 3,50,000  stars manually. At a time when gender representation in astronomy was  skewed. Cannon with her impeccable contributions inspired many women to pursue astronomy. During that time, stars were classified alphabetically, from A to Q. based on their temperatures. She built a new classification system with ten categories and forever changed the way scientists classified stars by developing the Harvard system which is in use even today.

CARL SAGAN (1934-1996)

American astronomer Carl Sagan was not just a science poster boy but he was one of the most influential voices in the scientific  realm  who  made the cosmos a subject of interest for the masses. Sagan played a huge role in in the American space program. He popularised astronomy and through his talks and books motivated many to become sky watchers. He also founded the Planetary Society, a non-profit that is focussed on advancing space science and exploration. He was a professor of astronomy and space sciences and director of the Laboratory for Planetary Studies at Cornell University. His contributions include explaining the high temperatures of Venus and the seasonal changes on Mars. His book "Cosmos" is a bestseller that was also turned into a television show (hosted by Sagan) which was watched by a billion people in 60 countries. He also wrote a science fiction novel "Contact" which was adapted to the screen.

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What was Gabriel Garcia Marquez famous for?

A master storyteller, Colombian novelist Gabriel García Márquez ushered in a new era in the literary world by weaving magic with reality and giving a fresh spin to the conventional style of storytelling. The literary fiction style of magical realism has supernatural and dreamlike elements blended into the temporal world. Let's read up on the author whose birth anniversary falls in March.

Tiny yellow flowers rain from the sky, magic carpets fly, villagers get haunted by ghosts, corpses do not decompose and trickles of blood climb stairs! The real and the magic merge here. Colombian novelist and Nobel laureate Gabriel García Márquez took fiction to a whole new level, seamlessly integrating fantasy and dreamlike elements into realistic settings. What he started came to be referred to as magical realism. Perhaps Márquez is one of the few Latin American authors who enjoyed so much international success. His works were universal and got translated into dozens of languages and sold by millions. Be it critical acclaim or widespread commercial success, Marquez enjoyed it all.

Early years

Born in Aracataca, Colombia in 1927, Márquez was the eldest of 16 children. His parents were Luisa Santiaga Márquez and Gabriel Elijio Garcia. His father was a postal clerk and telegraph operator. A large part of his childhood was spent living with his grandparents. He has mentioned that his maternal grandfather, Nicolas Márquez Mejia, a retired army man, was a great influence on him. He often called him the most important figure of my life when he was a teenager. Márquez moved to Bogotá. Although he began to study law here he abandoned his studies and started working as a journalist. He started working for the Colombian newspaper ‘El Espectador’. In the 1950s and 1960s, he worked as a foreign correspondent in Paris, Rome, Barcelona, New York and so on. He then decided to focus on creative writing.

Literary career                                                                                                                                

Marquez is synonymous with magical realism. He popularised the unique literary style of storytelling where reality and fantasy blend seamlessly. Marquez was also an avid reader. In an interview, he once remarked "I cannot imagine how anyone could even think of writing a novel without having at least a vague of idea of the 10.000 years of literature that have gone before.” Having said that Marquez always made sure that he never imitated the writers he admired. While Marquez is widely known for his work "One Hundred Years of Solitude” (1967) which earned him the Pulitzer Prize his non-fiction works and short stories are equally famous "Love in the Time of Cholera” (1985) is yet another famous novel of his.

When the newspaper where he worked was shut down. Marquez went jobless. Event while he was stranded in Paris and doing odd jobs, he started working on two novels titled “No One Writes to the Colonel” and “In Evil Hour” which were published in 1961 and 1962 respectively. Incidentally, the first novel "Leaf Storm” was published in 1955

"One Hundred Years of Solitude"

His masterstroke arrived in the form of “One Hundred Years of Solitude”, where the story revolves around the isolated town of Macondo. The fantastical and magical elements in the story are written in such a way that they look like they are rooted in reality.

Marquez got inspired to write the story when he was driving to Acapulco, Mexico. He had moved to Mexico City by then. On reaching home, he tried to give shape to his idea and spent 18 months writing the novel. The book was published in 1967 and was an instant success so much so that it was sold out within days. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1982.

Magical realism

While Marquez is regarded as one who invented magical realism, the author never made any such claim. He often said that some elements of the genre had appeared earlier in Latin American literature. This style of writing later inspired writers across including Isabel Allende and Salman Rushdie.

He died of pneumonia in 2014 at the age of 87.

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What is Vikram Seth famous for?

Vikram Seth is the author of "A Suitable Boy", one of the longest books ever published in English. As the literary world celebrates 30 years of "A Suitable Boy", let's read up on the Indian author who seamlessly shifts between different genres.

Indian author Vikram Seth is noted for his magnum opus "A Suitable Boy", one of the longest books ever published in English literature. And despite it running into more than a thousand pages, the book was widely celebrated and Seth made an indelible mark on the literary world.                 

Early life

Seth was born to Leila Seth (judge) and Prem Nath Seth (business executive), on June 20, 1952, in Kolkata, India. He was raised in London and India. After attending Indian schools, he graduated from Corpus Christi College, Oxford.

In 1978, he received a master’s degree in Economics from Stanford University and later studied classical Chinese poetry and languages at Nanjing University, China. He returned to India to live in New Delhi in 1987.

Writing career

Originally a poet, Seth is known for seamlessly shifting between different genres of writing and coming up with compelling works. Seth's first volume of poetry "Mappings" was published in 1980.

It was after he published the humorous travelogue "From Heaven Lake" (1983) that he gained critical attention. The story centred around his hitchhiking journey from Nanking to New Delhi via Tibet. The first novel to be published was "The Golden Gate". "All You Who Sleep Tonight.", "Beastly Tales from Here and There" and the poetry collections "The Poems, 1981-1994" (1995) and "Summer Requiem" (2015) are some of his other works.

"An Equal Music' (1999), a love story revolving around the world of professional musicians is yet another noted work of his. A lesser-known fact is Seth's musical acumen must have helped him in writing this piece. He was even commissioned to write a libretto (text of an opera) for the English National Opera in 1994. It was published as "Arion and the Dolphin". It is said that his work "Two Lives" is dear to his heart as it is part memoir, part family history. It revolves around the story of Seth's great aunt "Henny", a German Jew, and his Indian great uncle "Shanti".

Through the book he is not only retelling their story but also trying to find answers to the unique alliance between a German Jew (who lost her family in the Holocaust) and his great uncle who served in the Second World War.

Having travelled widely and lived in Britain, California, India and China, Seth drew inspiration from his experiences for his writing. His first novel "The Golden Gate: A Novel in Verse" (1986) revolves around a group of friends living in California. The book won the WH Smith Literary Award and the Commonwealth Writers Prize (Overall Winner, Best Book). He has also authored a travel book "From Heaven Lake: Travels Through Sinkiang and Tibet (1983)", which traces the journeys through Tibet, China and Nepal. It won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award. "Beastly Tales from Here and There" (1992) is a children's book that has ten stories about animals which are told in verse. He has also translated the works of Chinese, German and Hindi poets.

A Suitable Boy

Seth turned to prose in "A Suitable Boy", exploring the relationships between four Indian families. The book is noted for its gripping narrative style. Despite the fact that "A Suitable Boy" ran to 1,349 pages, it didn't deter readers and sold over one million copies worldwide.

The author took some eight years to write "A Suitable Boy". Set in India around the time the country had gained independence, the book follows a mothers quest to find a suitable boy to marry her daughter Lata Mehra. It was critically acclaimed and was also made into a BBC mini-series by Mira Nair in 2020.

For the past few years, the literary world has been waiting with bated breath for a sequel to this book called "A Suitable Girl". The story is believed to be set in contemporary India, as our former protagonist Lata, now a grandmother, tries matchmaking for her grandson. As the wait for his next book continues, why don't you pick up "A Suitable Boy" and give it a read?

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Who is Shehan Karunatilaka?

In 2022, Shehan Karunatilaka became the second Sri Lankan author to win the Booker Prize. What fetched his novel ‘The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida’ the prestigious literary award?

Sri Lankan author Shehan Karunatilaka won the prestigious Booker Prize 2022 for ‘The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida’. When it was announced, it was the overriding Breaking News of prime-time media. We got so genuinely excited about someone from our neighbouring country winning the prize that we decided to gather authentic information about him. Here's the information we put together.

About the novelist

The entire nation rose in jubilation when the prize was announced. We all know Shehan Karunatilaka only as a novelist, but he is much more than that- only in films do we find protagonists playing multiple roles, but in real life he dons several roles. He is a children's author, screenplay writer, travel writer, rock singer, music reviewer, copywriter, sports commentator, content writer, and much more. It's rare to come across someone with such rich experiences in varied fields.

The 47-year-old writer was born in Galle, a beautiful old city, situated on the southwestern tip of the island, about 115 km from Colombo. He grew up in Colombo, and that's where he lives now. But he has also lived and worked in the U.K., Singapore, Australia, and the Netherlands for different organisations in various capacities.

An interesting fact about the prize-winning novel is that it had two different versions published earlier – ‘Devil Dance’ and ‘Chats with the Dead’ and was eventually published with the current title in London in 2022.

The Booker Prize

The Booker Prize is considered prestigious as it accords international recognition to the winners and is one of the world's richest literary prizes, offering 50,000 pounds. It is given each year for the best novel written in English and published in the U.K. or Ireland. Three Indian writers - Arundhati Roy, Kiran Desai, and Aravind Adiga - have won the prize so far.

The Seven Moons of Maali Almeida

The seven moons' has several mythological references, and in Greek myth, it is an expedition undertaken to reclaim the throne, and, in the novel, it refers to the 'seven days' of travel between the afterlife and the real world.

The name of the central character, Maali Almeida, is of Arabic origin, meaning 'rich hill’, referring to the topography of their country. The novelist perhaps chose to avoid any reference to Sri Lankan names as the novel is set against the backdrop of the war-torn country.

Maali Almeida is a war photographer who wakes up from his death and tries to identify his killer but with no idea of who did it. He holds a cache of photographs that captures the brutalities committed by various groups, including the military, which "will bring down governments" and wishes to show them to the people he loves most.

In his work, Karunatilaka combines the features of different genres of novels - mystery, surrealism, political satire, mythology, ghost story, history, comedy, fantasy, realism, and so on, and weaves all these strands skilfully to delight his readers.

Significantly, though the novel portrays the grim reality of our country it is not without hope and humour, which he believes are the coping mechanism to lead a sane life.

The lesson from his writings

The important lesson for us is that with the sensitivity to contemporary socio-political happenings and familiarity with different genres of novels, we could spin a story of some merit by employing imagination.

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Jobs literary figures once held

Delve into the lives of renowned literary figures who faced the pivotal choice of either retaining their day jobs or leaving them behind to embrace their true passion for the written word. Read on to discover how some of them drew inspiration from their jobs, seamlessly integrating their work experiences into their literary masterpieces.

Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie, the beloved 'Queen of crime, has left an indelible mark on the genre of detective fiction. However, it may surprise you to learn that prior to her literary success, the English author worked as a pharmacist's assistant until the conclusion of World War I. In 1914, when the U.K entered into war with Germany, Christie promptly joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment, dedicating the next four years to caring for injured soldiers at a military hospital. It was during this period that she drew upon her pharmaceutical knowledge, particularly in the realm of poisons, to craft her debut novel, The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Christie's involvement in the pharmacy profession was not limited to World War I, as she resumed her duties during World War II, amassing countless hours of invaluable work. Her experiences as a wartime pharmacist undoubtedly honed her ability to "imagine worst-case scenarios, gruesome deaths, and pharmaceutical murder”. Kathryn Harkup says in her book, A is for Arsenic: The Poisons of Agatha Christie.

Harper Lee

Harper Lee, the renowned American novelist, revolutionised literary history in 1960 with her groundbreaking work, To Kill a Mockingbird, fearlessly bringing the issue of racial injustice to the forefront. Prior to this transformative moment, Lee supported herself as an airline ticketing agent while embarking on a quest for a writing career after leaving law school. Despite her demanding day job with Eastern Airlines and British Overseas Airways Corporation. Lee tenaciously pursued her passion by crafting articles and short stories in her spare time. In a fortunate turn of events in 1956, fate smiled upon her. Through her childhood friend-turned-writer Truman Capote, Lee crossed paths with the esteemed American Broadway composer Michael Brown. Remarkably, during the joyous Christmas holidays, Brown gifted her an extraordinary present-a whole year’s worth of wages-along with a heartfelt message. This granted her the freedom to devote all her time to writing. A mere twelve months later, Lee presented her agent with the initial draft of To Kill a Mockingbird, setting the stage for her exceptional literary career.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

British author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is renowned worldwide as the visionary behind Sherlock Holmes, one of English literature's most iconic fictional characters. However, his contributions extend far beyond being the pioneer of modern detective literature. In 1881, Doyle earned his Bachelor of Medicine and Master of Surgery qualifications from Edinburgh, followed by an M.D. in 1885 upon completing his thesis. During his tenure as a general practitioner, he dedicated particular attention to ophthalmology (diagnosis and medical treatment of the eyes), studying the field in Vienna and working alongside renowned ophthalmologists in Paris. Upon returning to London, he established an ophthalmological practice near Harley Street. It was during his time as a medical student that Doyle was profoundly influenced by his professor. Dr Joseph Bell, whose exceptional ability to observe the minutest details about a patient's condition served as the inspiration for Sherlock Holmes, the ultimate master of deductive reasoning. In 1891, Doyle experienced a severe influenza-induced health crisis, which prompted him to reevaluate his life's priorities. Merely a year later, the first collection of 12 stories featuring the adventures of Sherlock Holmes was published.

T.S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot, the distinguished recipient of the 1948 Nobel Prize in Literature, stands tall as one of the most influential American poets of the 20th Century. Remarkably, Eliot sustained himself through various roles as a teacher, banker, and editor throughout his life. Since poetry remained his true passion, he pursued it during his spare moments. From 1917 to 1925, Eliot worked in the foreign transactions department at Lloyd's Bank, dedicating his days to the financial realm. However, in 1921, following a nervous breakdown, he took a break from his banking career and completed his magnum opus. The Waste Land, which was edited by his friend and fellow American poet, Ezra Pound. Pound, along with a collective of writers, established Bel Esprit, a fund aimed at financially supporting Eliot's transition to full-time writing. Despite Pound's success in gamering pledges from several subscribers, Eliot refused to accept the money and remained resolute in retaining his day job. Nonetheless, The Liverpool Post, Chicago Daily Tribune, and the New York Tribune mistakenly reported that Eliot had accepted the funds while maintaining his position at the bank. Eliot expressed his disagreement, prompting the newspapers to publish retractions. In 1925, Eliot eventually parted ways with Lloyds, embarking on a new path as an editor at a publishing house.

Stephen King

Renowned for his spine-chilling and hair-raising novels such as The Shining, It and Carrie. American author Stephen King has reigned supreme in the horror genre for over five decades. His gripping tales have not only captivated readers but also found immense success on the silver screen, becoming blockbuster hits. As a young boy, King stumbled upon a treasure trove of fantasy-horror fiction books that once belonged to his father, igniting his passion for writing. By the tender age of seven, he had already embarked on his own storytelling journey. However, as he pursued his dream, King faced the need to support himself through various odd jobs. He toiled as a janitor, manned gas pumps, and even worked at an industrial laundry facility, all while persistently crafting and submitting short stories for publication. This striking career transition vividly illustrates that one's current occupation does not determine their lifelong path. Instead, any job can serve as a stepping stone to something greater, as King's remarkable journey exemplifies.

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Who was Rudyard Kipling?

Rudyard Kipling was part of every child's growing up years in India. His mastery over storytelling and crafting poetry was such that he became a hit with both children and adults. Read up on the author whose birth anniversary was recently celebrated.

Remember the legend of Mowgli? The long-haired orphan boy raised in the wild by the animals? As Mowgli adventured in the woods and learned the ways of the wild, a part of us was also travelling with him, joining in his escapades. That was the magic wielded by Rudyard Kipling which made him one of the most loved children's writers. Needless to say, "The Jungle Book" (1894) was synonymous with one's childhood.

Kipling was part of every child's growing up years India. His mastery over in storytelling and crafting poetry was such that he became a hit with both children and adults. Children grew up listening to stories he wrote, whilst adults knew his poems by heart.

Early years

Born in Bombay in 1865, Kipling's father John Lockwood Kipling was an artist. His mother was Alice Macdonald. His parents belonged to Anglo-Indian society. Kipling was relocated to England when he was small, a journey that made his childhood traumatic. He was sent to a foster home in England. He even wrote about this traumatic period in the semi-autobiographical short story titled "Baa Baa Black Sheep" (1888).

Kipling was educated in England at the United Services College, a boarding school in Westward Ho, North Devon, England. He then returned to India when he was 17 to pursue a career in journalism which he started off as the assistant editor of the Civil and Military Gazette at Lahore. Meanwhile, "Departmental Ditties" (1886), a verse collection, marked the start of his literary career. He also published stories based on British lives in India. Thus was born "Plain Tales from the Hills" (1888). It was the first collection of short stories by Kipling. In 1888, he joined another publication Allahabad Pioneer.

His body of work spanned different genres, and styles, be it poetry, short-story or novel. His early volumes of short stories were set in India. He appealed to the masses and was a celebrated writer during his time. One of his poems that is often revered by both adults and children is "If" which is considered a classic. The poem is believed to have been inspired by Leander Starr Jameson, a British colonial politician. Kipling is also noted for his stories and poems about British soldiers in India.

Although Kipling published several short-story collections and poetry collections, his most famous novels were published in the 1890s and later. In 1892, Kipling married Caroline Balestier after which he moved to Vermont. It was while in America that he published the much-acclaimed "The Jungle Book" (1894). His novel "Kim" (1901) which is themed around an Irish orphan in India, is one of his most famous works. The sequel to 'The Jungle Book", "Second Jungle Book" (1895) is another celebrated work of his. Other noted works include "Captain Courageous" and "The Light that Failed".

Some of his famous poems are "The Ballad of East and West," "Danny Deever,"

"Tommy," and "The Road to Mandalay". "Just So Stories" is yet another well-loved series by Kipling. These stories were in fact written for his own children. The stories are meant to be read out aloud and were noted for their intriguing, playful language that would appeal to the children. His last work for children was "Puck of Pook's Hill" and its sequel, "Rewards and Fairies".

Did you know that Kipling also got a Nobel prize in literature in 1907? He was the first Englishman to receive it! In 1902, Kipling moved to Sussex and lived there until his death.

He passed away in 1936 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

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What is the purpose of Yann Martel in writing the story of ‘Life of Pi’?

“One of the reasons I started writing Life of Pi is, I was struck how in the 2000s there could still be gods around. After all the triumphs of science and technology, how could people still believe in gods... Hence, I wrote Life of Pi, to try to understand that phenomenon called faith, where you believe despite having no proof. So Life of Pi was just defending the act of love that is the more positive manifestation of religion.” ….. Yann Martel..

Canadian author Yann Martel's Life of Pi is a fantasy adventure novel that explores how faith can help one cope with tragedy. Lolita Chakrabarti's stage adaptation of this Booker Prize-winning novel is said to open on Broadway next year. Let's revisit this story and see what makes it a modern classic.

About the Author

Yann Martel was born in Salamanca, Spain on June 25, 1963, to Canadian parents. Growing up, his family moved a lot and lived in various countries such as Spain, Costa Rica, France, Mexico, and the U.S. Martel completed his secondary education in Canada at Trinity College School in Port Hope, Ontario, and went on to study at Trent University and Concordia. University, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy.

Although he has written and published many books, including The Facts Behind the Helsinki Roccamatios and Other Stories (1993) and Self (1996), he is best known for his Booker Prize-winning novel Life of Pi. It was directed and produced by Ang Lee for the big screen in 2012 and won four academy awards. Best Director and Best Visual Effects in 2013.

It was recently revealed that a stage version of Martel's fantasy adventure novel is under way to grace the Broadway stage next year, beginning preview performances in March 2023, at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre ahead of opening night on March 30, 2023.

Life of Pi

Life of Pi is a curious mix of zoology and theology that explores the matters of the soul. The author says that the idea for the novel dawned on him while he was backpacking in India in 1997.

Life of Pi is the story of a multi-religious Indian teenager called Piscine Molitor Patel (which he shortens to Pi Patel), who was born and raised in Pondicherry, in a family that owns and operates a zoo. This novel narrates Pi's recollection of the 227 days he was shipwrecked with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker in the Pacific Ocean.

What makes it a modern classic?

The meaning of Pi

Pi's name serves a dual-purpose in the book. For our protagonist it is a symbol of home - a safe haven that shields one from the unchartered territory that is the outside world. But at the same time, the mathematical value of Pi is an irrational number, which no one can completely decipher. It also stands in as a metaphor for life in general which is a blend of the rational (such as science and reason) and the (such as our faiths and beliefs).

"In that illusive irrational number with which scientists try to understand the truth of the universe, I found refuge." - Pi says in the book about the mathematical symbol.

A novel of questions

This book is full of spiritual references, poetic visual imagery, and questions no one seems to have definite answers for even though they are an inseparable part of the human experience. Questions about faith and the relativity of truth are at the core of Pi's story.

Even though Life of Pi starts off as a story that "will make you believe in God", it challenges the idea of blind faith. It is a testament to the fact that faith that is rooted in love is never threatened by doubt sprouted by seemingly insurmountable challenges one faces while riding the wave of life. Pi's journey endorses that religion is a personalised spiritual extension of oneself that is flexible,ever-evolving, and seasoned with one's experiences in the world.

This is further clarified by this statement Pi makes in the book "Doubt is useful, it keeps faith a living thing. After all, you cannot know the strength of your faith until it is tested."

The power of storytelling

The value of compelling storytelling is engrained in Pi's story from the very beginning of the novel with the author's note that makes it seem as if we are about to read an actual interview documented by the writer, blurring the line between fact and fiction.

Pi is an excellent storyteller who defines fiction as "selective transformation of reality" that allows one to bring forth the essence of an experience to communicate a deeper meaning. He uses story telling as a means of survival while presenting his account of the sea voyage to the Japanese officials who visit him in the hospital. They expect to hear the factual account of how the ship sank but are presented a fantastical tale with animals. When the novel's end discloses a transcript from the same interrogation revealing an alternate version of Pi's account where the animals are replaced by other human survivors, it reiterates how our protagonist is using storytelling as a means to make sense of and deal with the trauma of the horrible things he witnessed and partook in to survive on that lifeboat.

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What was CS Lewis famous for?

C.S. Lewis gained acclaim as a children's author for his classic series The Chronicles of Narnia. He also gained acclaim for his popular apologetics, including such works as Mere Christianity and The Screwtape Letters. What is more, he gained acclaim as a science fiction writer for his Ransom Trilogy.

Narnia is a land of adventure and magic. Here animals talk and one's imagination knows no bounds. There is a talking lion, there is a wardrobe that hies you away to the land of Narnia where adventures are waiting to begin.

The story chronicles the adventures of the four children, Lucy, Peter, Susan and Edmund, when they enter Narnia through an old wardrobe. There they join forces with the lion Aslan in the fight with the wicked White Witch. The Narnia books have sold over 100 million copies till date.

Lewis was born on November 29, 1898 in Belfast, Ireland. He wrote around 40 books, reaching out to a vast section of readers including children and adults.. Lewis was also an academic. He taught English Literature at Oxford University until 1954.


Lewis grew up in a household that gave importance to reading and education. Did you know that Lewis was more like a prodigy? He started reading at the age of three and by the age of five, he started writing stories.


The stories revolved around a fantasy land filled with "dressed animals". This collection of early stories was published as "Boxen: The Imaginary World of the Young C.S. Lewis (1985)".

Early years

Lewis served in France with the Somerset Light Infantry in World War I. He later started his studies at Oxford. He became a tutor at Magdalen College, Oxford, and later a professor at the University of Cambridge.

Lewis as a writer "Out of the Silent Planet' (1938), was his first work of fiction that garnered attention. This was followed by "Perelandra" (1943) and 'That Hideous Strength" (1945) which were both successful. These three novels form a science-fiction trilogy that revolves around the journeys of an English linguist named Elwin Ransom. "The Allegory of Love: A Study in Medieval Tradition" (1936) was Lewis' first scholarly work.

The enduring appeal of Narnia

It all started in 1950, when "The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe" was published. Soon it was followed by a series of six stories that came to be called "The Chronicles of Narnia", a children's fantasy book series. The books were then adapted for the big and the small screens. With the series, its author C.S. Lewis became one of the well-loved children's book authors.

During World War II, four 5 siblings are sent to a safe place to protect themselves from the And at this country house, in the backdrop of all the carnage of the war, they find a magic door, a door to an adventure land- Narnia. One day, Lucy, the youngest of the siblings finds a wardrobe that takes her to the land of talking animals, dwarves, giants and so on. Once she returns from Narnia, she takes her siblings to the adventure land, the place which is at war. Aslan, the talking lion, is gathering an army to fight the evil White Witch who has cursed Narnia with eternal winter. The cousins join the army and fight the war and win, eventually good triumphs over evil. For the children, the wardrobe and Narnia are their escape from the real world, but they triumph in the war they get embroiled in at Narnia. The juxtaposition of the real war with that of the war in the fantasy world of Narnia explores the themes of existence, life and its meaning.

In 1956, Lewis married Joy Davidman Gresham. Six months after their marriage, his wife was diagnosed with advanced cancer. Although her cancer went into a period of remission, the disease returned and she died in 1960. Lewis channelled all his grief into his book "A Grief Observed", published in 1961. The 1993 biographical drama "Shadowlands" fictionalised their relationship

 In 1963 Lewis wrote his last book "Letters to Malcolm." He died at the age of 64 in 1963.

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On July 31, 2003, Austrian daredevil skydiver Felix Baumgartner created history by becoming the first flying human to cross the English Channel. A triumph of science, technology, and human will, this skydive was one of Baumgartner's many such feats.

The English Channel is a narrow arm of the Atlantic Ocean that separates the southern coast of England from the northern coast of France. Also called the Channel, it is among the busiest shipping areas on the planet. The English Channel is also the scene of one of Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartners historic skydives.

Born in 1969 in Salzburg, Austria, Baumgartner found his destiny at the age of 16. Following his first skydive at that age, he was totally drawn to it and also took to extreme parachuting. He spent a few years with the Austrian military's demonstration and competition team, improving his aero-acrobatic skills, perfecting his parachute jumping and learning the art of landing on small target zones.

In the 1990s, Baumgartner also started doing base jumping, another dangerous sport that involves leaping off fixed objects and breaking the fall using a parachute. Base, in fact, is an acronym for the categories of objects from which the jump can be made: buildings, antennas, spans (bridges), and Earth (mountains, cliffs, etc.).

Scientific endeavours

Having built a reputation as a daredevil, Baumgartner sought to understand the limits of the human body and what we can achieve with it by training it. Apart from his desire to experience what nobody else had, he also saw his daredevil stunts as scientific endeavours, as they pushed the boundaries of our knowledge and know-how of various facets of his acts.

Before his flight across the English Channel, Baumgartner had already pulled off a number of firsts. In 1999, he completed the world's lowest ever base jump from the 30m-high arm of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. In that same year, he set the world record for the highest parachute jump from a building by jumping off the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, then the tallest building in the world.

Rigorous training

Baumgartner's next big feat was his flight over the English Channel, but he didn't just wing it. On the contrary, the intense preparations actually took three years and included rigorous training-such as strapping himself onto the top of a speeding Porsche to prepare himself for what his planned journey might entail.

Fitted with a specially designed six-foot carbon-fibre wing, an oxygen tank, and a parachute strapped to his back, Baumgartner wore a jumpsuit that was capable of withstanding a temperature of minus 40 degree Celsius. On July 31, 2003, just a little after five in the morning local time to avoid commercial flights, Baumgartner jumped off a plane above Dover flying at a height of 30,000 feet (9,000m). In the next 14 minutes, Baumgartner completed the first freefall flight across the 35km wide English Channel, before safely landing in Cap Blanc-Nez near Calais.

The flight wasn't without incident, right from the start. Lack of oxygen at the height at which they were flying before he jumped off meant that a cameraman who was following him passed out. When he jumped, his legs and glider got entangled forcing him to cut his glider into pieces.

Extreme cold

Reaching speeds up to 360 km/hour initially, Baumgartner admitted that it was stressful to cope with the initial extreme cold that he experienced. His jumpsuit came in handy, as the temperatures did reach minus 40 degree Celsius. For most of the freefall, he travelled at 220 km/hour.

Additionally, cloud cover meant that he could not see where he was going. As a result, he had to follow his two planes to get across the Channel without getting lost, holding the wing to direct himself.

At the end of his flight Baumgartner said that "it was total freedom" and that he loved every bit of his 35-km ride. While he admitted that this was his "biggest project so far. he also hinted at a "top secret" challenge that was in the works.

That turned out to be his Red Bull Stratos project nine years later. By jumping to the Earth from the edge of space in October 2012, Baumgartner broke a number of records and became the first person to break the sound barrier in free fall. Apart from being an impressive stunt watched live by millions on YouTube plenty of data was also collected from the sky dive. This led to important advances in research pertaining to space and the stratosphere, and helped surmount scientific challenges pertaining to safety equipment and spacesuits.

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What did Joseph Priestley Discover 1774?

On 1 August 1774 chemist Joseph Priestley isolated a new "air" in its gaseous state. He named the gas "dephlogisticated air", later renamed 'oxygen' by Antoine Lavoisier. Priestley also discovered hydrochloric acid, nitrous oxide (laughing gas), carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide.

An English theologian and educator, too, he was appalled at the quality the available English grammar books, so he wrote his own The Rudiments of English Grammar (1761). His innovations in the description of Englishy gran led 20th-century scholar describe him as "one of heat grammarians of his time.

In 1762, he was ordained and married Mary Wilkinson, the daughter of a prominent iron-works owner. She was, he noted, "of an excellent understanding, much improved by reading, of great fortitude and strength of mind, and of a temper in the highest degree affectionate and generous; feeling strongly for others and little for herself."

Priestley traveled regularly to London, and became acquainted with numerous men of science and independent thought, including an ingenious American named Benjamin Franklin, who became a lifelong friend. Franklin encouraged Priestley in his research, one result of which was The History and Present State of Electricity. For that work, and his growing reputation as an experimenter, Priestley was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1766.

The History book was too tough for a popular audience, and Priestley determined to write a more accessible one. But he could find no one to create the necessary illustrations. So, in typical fashion, he taught himself perspective drawing. Along the way, he made many mistakes, and discovered that India rubber would erase lead pencil lines — a fact he mentioned in the preface.

By the age of 34, Priestley was a well-established and respected member of Britain's scientific community. He was still paying a price for his religious nonconformity, however. When the explorer Captain James Cook was preparing for his second voyage, Priestley was offered the position of science adviser. But the offer was rescinded under pressure from Anglican authorities who protested his theology, which was evolving into a strongly Unitarian position that denied the doctrine of the trinity.

In retrospect, the Cook affair may have been all for the best. In 1773, the Earl of Shelburne asked Priestley to serve as a sort of intellectual companion, tutor for the earl's offspring, and librarian for his estate, Bowood House. The position provided access to social and political circles Priestley could never have gained on his own, while leaving ample free time for the research that would earn him a permanent place in scientific history.

He systematically analyzed the properties of different "airs" using the favored apparatus of the day: an inverted container on a raised platform that could capture the gases produced by various experiments below it. The container could also be placed in a pool of water or mercury, effectively sealing it, and a gas tested to see if it would sustain a flame or support life.

In the course of these experiments, Priestley made an enormously important observation. A flame went out when placed in a jar in which a mouse would die due to lack of air. Putting a green plant in the jar and exposing it to sunlight would "refresh" the air, permitting a flame to burn and a mouse to breathe. Perhaps, Priestley wrote, "the injury which is continually done by such a large number of animals is, in part at least, repaired by the vegetable creation." Thus he observed that plants release oxygen into the air — the process known to us as photosynthesis.

Credit : American Chemistry Society

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How did Mark Zuckerberg contribute to society?

Since amassing his sizeable fortune, Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg has used his millions to fund several philanthropic causes. In 2010, he donated $100 million to save the failing Newark Public School system in New Jersey and signed the Giving Pledge, promising to donate at least 50 per cent of his wealth to charity over the course of his lifetime. He called on other young, wealthy entrepreneurs to follow suit.

"With a generation of younger folks who have thrived on the success of their companies, there is a big opportunity for many of us to give back earlier in our lifetime and see the impact of our philanthropic efforts," he said. He was the second biggest charitable donor in the U.S. in 2012 having donated roughly ($498.8 million) to the Silicon Valley Community Foundation.

Mark Zuckerberg (b.14 May 1984), is an American entrepreneur, computer programmer and philanthropist. He is best-known as one of the co-founders of social networking site Facebook. He is the chairman and CEO of Facebook, Inc. His personal wealth is estimated to be US$13.3 billion, making him one of the world's youngest billionaires.

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Who had the opportunity to purchase Google in 1998 but turned it down?

In 1998, Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, PhD students at Stanford University at the time, approached Yahoo! and suggested a partnership. Yahoo! declined supposedly because they didn't want to concentrate on search. Brin and Page went on to incorporate Google as a privately-held company on 4 September 1998. Yahoo! once again had the opportunity to purchase Google for $5bn in 2002. Although the price was high for Yahoo! in relation to its own value at the time, it would prove to be the last chance it had to acquire Google. It didn't. In January 2013, Google announced it had earned $50 billion in annual revenue for the year 2012.

Following the launch of Google X, the debut of Google Glass, and the unveiling of the company’s self-driving car project, the search giant turned its sights on the sciences. In particular, Page was interested in life extension. So the company, through its Google Ventures investment arm, created Calico, a company effectively aimed at curing death. It’s headed up by Bill Maris, the founding partner of Google Ventures, who recruited former Genentech CEO Art Levinson to be its chief executive.

It was yet another signal that Page’s Google was willing to put down huge sums of money toward problems far outside the realm of online search and mobile operating systems. Calico, however, has so far seemingly failed to yield any meaningful advancements in the life sciences, medicine, or biotechnology industries. It is unclear what, if anything, the company is focused on right now.

By the summer of 2015, Google was a remarkably different company than when Page had reassumed his CEO role four years prior. The company was involved in self-driving cars, wearable technology, the Nexus smartphone line, and numerous other product and experimental research efforts spanning artificial intelligence, cloud and quantum computing, and even fiber internet.

While Page and Brin receded from public view starting around 2015, they were reportedly quite active in Google’s famous weekly TGIY all-hands sessions, in which executives would answer questions from employees and address big-picture topics at the company and in the news. One such session, occurring just after Donald Trump was elected president in 2016, was two years later leaked to conservative news outlet Breitbart.

Credit :  The Verge

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Who said that, "When we think we know we cease to learn."?

Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan was one of India's most influential scholars of comparative religion and philosophy. He was awarded the Bharat Ratna in 1954. The first Vice President (1952-1962) and second President of India (1962 1967), his birth anniversary is celebrated as Teachers' Day.

Radhakrishnan emphasizes that education must be based on the twin principles of Truth & Love. Education will be said to be complete, only if it includes not only training of the intellect but refinement of the heart and discipline of the spirit. The aim of education must be character building, man-making, development of spiritual values & secular attitudes, vocational development and national integration. Dr Radhakrishnan was a true nationalist personality of Indian soil and lifelong defence of Hinduism and Indian culture & civilization against uninformed western critics. Due to his dedication towards Hindu religion, culture & philosophy, the so-called secular forces and western-minded thoughts have been critical to him. But ignoring all critics, he continued his nationalist writings throughout his life and kept burning the light of Indian Philosophy on the world map. He took his last breath on 17th April 1975, but his lamp of understanding of intuition and interpretation of experiences will light our path from age to age.

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What is Nathan Hale most famous for?

Nathan Hale was a schoolteacher when the American Revolution of 1775 broke out. He was commissioned an officer in the Connecticut militia and served in the siege of Boston. In late September 1776, during the Battle of Long Island, 21-year-old Nathan volunteered to cross enemy lines and travel to Long Island to report on British troop movements.

He was given virtually no training for his perilous mission, and was soon discovered and captured by the British. The young spy was interrogated and executed on September 22. On the scaffold he reportedly declared, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."

Though Hale was allowed to write letters on the eve of his execution, they were destroyed by his jailer, who felt that "rebels should never know they had a man who could die with so much firmness".

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