Fear in Writing: February 8th

Today in Literary History

Today in Literary History...December 14, 1907: Rudyard Kipling receives the Nobel prize for literature, the first English-language writer to do so.ud

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

February 8th

How important are dates?

I have always loved this day--February 8th.  I should.  It's my birthday!  But it's also a date on which much has happened in the world.  And every time I read or hear of an event that occurred on February 8th, I feel a kinship with that incident.  Whatever it may be, I feel tied to it somehow, as if our experiences converge somehow just because we share a date in common.

One of my favorites is Mary Queen of Scots.  On this day in 1587, she was beheaded for "complicity in a plot to murder Queen Elizabeth I" (history).  I'll be honest, one of the reasons this particular event has always struck me is that Katharine Hepburn played the unlucky queen in the 1936 movie, Mary of Scotland.  And Kate, for those of you who don't know, is my all-time favorite actor.  I even named my daughter after her (Katharine is Natalie's middle name)!

Another February 8th occurrence: Peter the Great dies in 1725.  The monarch, known for his Westernization of Russian government, was succeeded by another famous Catherine who would also become "Great."

More death and crime on this day...The first execution by lethal gas took place in 1924 in Carson City, Nevada.  Champion Irish racehorse Shergar (worth $13.5 million) is stolen at gunpoint from a stud farm.  "Shergar was never seen again and no ransom was paid.  The case was never solved" (history).  The outspoken and brave "Cardinal Mindszenty, the highest Catholic official in Hungary, is convicted of treason and sentenced to life imprisonment by the Communist People's Court" (history).  One of the most controversial and cinema-changing films ever made opens in the US: Birth of a Nation.  In 1989, 144 people died when "an American-chartered Boeing 707 filled with Italian tourists slammed into a fog-covered mountain in the Azores" (Wash. Post).  Anna Nicole Smith died of a drug overdose in 2007.

And war...The Russo-Japanese War begins in 1904.  The Battle of Roanoke Island, one of the first major victories for the Union in the American Civil War, takes place in 1862.  60 men were killed and 276 were wounded.  Operation Lam Son 719 begins in 1971 with South Vietnamese forces  invading southern Laos.

Is it any wonder I'm a crime writer?  :)

But...some happy things happened today as well (in addition to my birth, of course *wink wink*)...In 1910, the Boy Scouts of American was incorporated.  In 1697, a charter was granted for the College of William and Mary in the Virginia colony, the second-oldest college in America (after Harvard).  In 1960, work began on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

And it is also the birthday of some famous people...Ted Koppel is 71, and John Grisham is 56.  Jules Verne, Jack Lemmon, Lana Turner and my favorite James Dean were all born February 8th.

So happy February 8th everyone!  What's in a date?  A lot.


  1. Happy birthday! I just did a post about Jules Verne's birthday and some steampunk stuff on my blog. Hope your day is wonderful! And no wars, okay? Wars are very uncool.

  2. What an auspicious day for a birthday. Have a wonderful day...and a year filled with great things!

  3. Happy birthday, good lady! I'm sure somewhere, somehow, Jules Verne is toasting you. Or just toasting. I dunno how good he was in life. *shrugs*

  4. HAPPY BIRTHDAY Michele! What a day indeed!! :)

  5. Happy birthday!! And I've seen Mary's palace in person.

  6. Happy Birthday! And thanks for all the interesting info! :)

  7. Hope you had a wonderful birthday! I love Katharine Hepburn, too. :)

  8. It was my grandma's birthday, too (I look at it as a holiday myself, because I pretty much won the JACKPOT in the grandma department)--I hope you had a great day! (looks a bit notorious when you lay it all out like this... that, too, fits my grandma...)

  9. Thank you all so much. It was a good day and it was fun to do this research on the date.

    I don't mind a bit of notoriety...

  10. I had no idea so many momentous things happened on Feb 8th.

    Happy Belated Birthday!