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Dancing with Mrs. Dalloway: Stories of the Inspiration Behind Great Works of Literature PDF, ePub eBook

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Dancing with Mrs. Dalloway: Stories of the Inspiration Behind Great Works of Literature

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Dancing with Mrs. Dalloway: Stories of the Inspiration Behind Great Works of Literature PDF, ePub eBook The Real Stories Behind Everyone's Favorite Novels-from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to The Great Gatsby. Every great book begins with an idea, whether it comes to a writer's mind with lightning speed or tugs at the imagination over time. Dancing with Mrs. Dalloway offers stories of the inspiration behind fifty classic works, from The Sound and the Fury, Jane Eyre, and F The Real Stories Behind Everyone's Favorite Novels-from The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to The Great Gatsby. Every great book begins with an idea, whether it comes to a writer's mind with lightning speed or tugs at the imagination over time. Dancing with Mrs. Dalloway offers stories of the inspiration behind fifty classic works, from The Sound and the Fury, Jane Eyre, and Frankenstein to Anna Karenina, The Bell Jar, and Winnie-the-Pooh. Gabriel García Márquez was driving to Acapulco with his family when he slammed on the brakes, turned the car around, and insisted they abandon their trip so he could return home to write. He had good reason to cut the trip short-a childhood memory of touching ice had suddenly sparked the first line to a novel that would become his most famous work, One Hundred Years of Solitude. C. S. Lewis, on the other hand, spent decades pondering the scene that inspired The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. When Lewis was sixteen, he had a peculiar daydream: a faun carried a bundle of parcels and an umbrella through snow-covered woods. Lewis was almost forty when he decided to write a novel that grew around the vision. In Dancing with Mrs. Dalloway, you'll discover who Edgar Allan Poe's raven really belonged to, whether Jane Austen's heartthrob Mr. Darcy actually existed, who got into mischief with a young Mark Twain, and what the real Sherlock Holmes did for a living. These delightful stories reveal the often unknown reasons our literary heroes put quill to parchment, pen to paper, or finger to keyboard to write some of the world's best-loved books.

30 review for Dancing with Mrs. Dalloway: Stories of the Inspiration Behind Great Works of Literature

  1. 4 out of 5

    Bill Kerwin

    This collection of four-page essays on the sources of inspiration of some fifty well known-novels--ranging from Naked Lunch and Mrs. Dalloway to "The Wind and the Willows" and "The Hobbit"--is a quick and enjoyable read. Veteran readers who know a lot of this stuff already will still acquire a few interesting anecdotes, and intelligent high school students--one of whom recommended this to me--will find it very informative. Johnson refuses to go dark or deep--J.M. Barrie and Lewis Carroll, for ex This collection of four-page essays on the sources of inspiration of some fifty well known-novels--ranging from Naked Lunch and Mrs. Dalloway to "The Wind and the Willows" and "The Hobbit"--is a quick and enjoyable read. Veteran readers who know a lot of this stuff already will still acquire a few interesting anecdotes, and intelligent high school students--one of whom recommended this to me--will find it very informative. Johnson refuses to go dark or deep--J.M. Barrie and Lewis Carroll, for example, are treated straightforwardly as nice middle-aged men who just like children--but she is very good at questioning the authenticity of some of the stories she tells, sometimes offering the reader two or three possible versions. This would make a great bedtime or bathroom book--by no means essential, but not a waste time.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Shelf Magazine

    Read an interview with author Celia Blue Johnson and read an excerpt from the book in the October/November 2011 issue of Shelf to discover the stories behind famous stories. http://www.pagegangster.com/p/3YczN/

  3. 5 out of 5

    Megan

    I finally finished this book by my bedside table that I started a long time ago, put down because I’m the worst, and wasn’t picking up again (for whatever reason) till now. I remember really liking this book when I first started it, but I put it down, thinking that I could read a story in it every night (which was stupid [!!] because look at my track record with books). Although I do not actually know how factual each story in this book is, the work is work cited for each claim it makes. I felt I finally finished this book by my bedside table that I started a long time ago, put down because I’m the worst, and wasn’t picking up again (for whatever reason) till now. I remember really liking this book when I first started it, but I put it down, thinking that I could read a story in it every night (which was stupid [!!] because look at my track record with books). Although I do not actually know how factual each story in this book is, the work is work cited for each claim it makes. I felt impressed by multiply stories in this book, especially when it came to female authors because sometimes there seemed to be a genuine struggle for some (for really no reason like L.M. Montgomery). I think the story that I felt most inspired by was S.E. Hinton’s story on how ”The Outsiders” began. I also like how this book was split into sections. Although some sections felt very repetitive (“In The Telling”), I really preferred some like the last section related to authors who still had to work their day jobs, but wanted to be writers (a genuine struggle). It was also fun to just read the backstory of people I liked, stories I liked, and even people/stories I didn’t like. I would say the most shocking thing I found out from this book, that I just did not know because I’ve not read his book nor any books from the Beat Generation, was that William S. Burroughs shot and killed his wife accidentally (??) and also maybe the amount of lovers Allen Ginsberg had in his lifetime even though his writing is not an actual story within this book. If you are a fan of nonfiction and interested in where things come from, how things really get started, et cetera, in the world of literature... I recommend this book!

  4. 5 out of 5

    Sylvester

    I think I appreciated the headings for each section of this book more than the actual stories (as it turns out, anyone who has read some will be surprised at how much they already knew about how the authors came up with the ideas for their books, it's well-examined territory): 1) When Lightning Strikes 2) In the Telling 3) Catch Me If You Can 4) These Mean Streets 5) The Great Chase 6) On the Job. The fact that some authors had a flash of inspiration from nowhere, that some used real live people I think I appreciated the headings for each section of this book more than the actual stories (as it turns out, anyone who has read some will be surprised at how much they already knew about how the authors came up with the ideas for their books, it's well-examined territory): 1) When Lightning Strikes 2) In the Telling 3) Catch Me If You Can 4) These Mean Streets 5) The Great Chase 6) On the Job. The fact that some authors had a flash of inspiration from nowhere, that some used real live people and changed very little of their stories, or that some novels came straight out of newspaper headlines - just shows the amazing mind of a writer - holding on to images and ideas sometimes for decades, or receiving ideas seemingly out of thin air. Fantastic! I enjoyed the chapter on The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain - I had no idea so much was plain old fact! Or the chapter on The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis - J.R.R. Tolkien hated the story?!! Funny! An excellent easy read for book-lovers.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jan

    Interesting stories about the genesis of some great books, but although it discusses classics, is not a classic on it's own. Did you know Atticus in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird is named after Titus Pomponius Atticus, close friend of Cicero? Also that dear friends gave Harper Lee a year off from work (financial support) so she could write, and Mockingbird is the result. Jane Eyre was written by Charlotte Bronte after she heard news of a governess who found out that her husband had a secret w Interesting stories about the genesis of some great books, but although it discusses classics, is not a classic on it's own. Did you know Atticus in Harper Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird is named after Titus Pomponius Atticus, close friend of Cicero? Also that dear friends gave Harper Lee a year off from work (financial support) so she could write, and Mockingbird is the result. Jane Eyre was written by Charlotte Bronte after she heard news of a governess who found out that her husband had a secret wife. She (the governess) had just given birth to a baby and was devasted; his explanation was that his first wife was in an asylum for the mentally insane. He could not divorce her and his life was intolerable. Interesting tidbit.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Adam

    This is a great collection of stories behind the stories... from Cervantes to Kurt Vonnegut, it follows a chronological pattern (which I appreciate), but in 6 different categories I'm not fully convinced works I have recently become interested in writing, and have had trouble taking the plunge, but if you're like me, one of the things you will learn from Ian Fleming (James Bond series) "never mind about the brilliant phrase or the golden word, once the typescript is there you can fiddle, correct, This is a great collection of stories behind the stories... from Cervantes to Kurt Vonnegut, it follows a chronological pattern (which I appreciate), but in 6 different categories I'm not fully convinced works I have recently become interested in writing, and have had trouble taking the plunge, but if you're like me, one of the things you will learn from Ian Fleming (James Bond series) "never mind about the brilliant phrase or the golden word, once the typescript is there you can fiddle, correct, and embellish as much as you please. so don't be depressed if the first draft seems a bit raw, all first drafts do."

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jane Greensmith

    I was so disappointed with this book. I've read the first 6 or so chapters and just don't want to take the time to go on with it. It seems very juvenile--in fact, I checked on Amazon to see whether I had inadvertently ordered a kids book or YA book, but no such disclaimer there. The stories about the inspiration behind the various works of fiction are just that stories, anecdotes with no reference to source material, footnotes, or even quotes. There is nothing in the way the story is presented th I was so disappointed with this book. I've read the first 6 or so chapters and just don't want to take the time to go on with it. It seems very juvenile--in fact, I checked on Amazon to see whether I had inadvertently ordered a kids book or YA book, but no such disclaimer there. The stories about the inspiration behind the various works of fiction are just that stories, anecdotes with no reference to source material, footnotes, or even quotes. There is nothing in the way the story is presented that would make me believe what the author is saying about how she knows these stories to be true. I think the book has a brilliant premise, but it is not for me.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Barbara Ardinger

    This book is probably more appropriate for young readers, but it's fun even if you know something about literature. What inspired Tolstoy to write Anna Karenina? Why did Tolkien write The Hobbit and the Ring trilogy? Johnson teases out the secrets of fifty authors, from Cervantes to Grahame, Milne, Potter, Mark Twain, Barrie, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway. We also learn what inspired Gaston Leroux to write The Phantom of the Opera and why Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone with the Wind. This is a very en This book is probably more appropriate for young readers, but it's fun even if you know something about literature. What inspired Tolstoy to write Anna Karenina? Why did Tolkien write The Hobbit and the Ring trilogy? Johnson teases out the secrets of fifty authors, from Cervantes to Grahame, Milne, Potter, Mark Twain, Barrie, Fitzgerald, and Hemingway. We also learn what inspired Gaston Leroux to write The Phantom of the Opera and why Margaret Mitchell wrote Gone with the Wind. This is a very entertaining book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Reverenddave

    If I had known back in the day that the Australian I was ragging on would become an accomplished author I probably would have been nicer. Nah, that wouldnt have been any fun. Still, congrats Blue, on a very enjoyable read.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This is a great little book...contains short essays about how some of the great works of literature came into being. A lot of great little tidbits, and a quick read. I had no idea that Harper Lee and Truman Capote were best friends! Highly recommended for all literature lovers.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Lauren

    Good for trivia. Kinda wished it had gone a little deeper, but perhaps that's just pickiness on my part.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Paula Dembeck

    How do writers generate ideas for their stories? What led writers to create some of the most famous works in literature? Acknowledging that no one can define exactly what inspired an author to write, much has been written about the events leading up to a the creation of a great novel and so Johnson tries to answer that question by exploring the genesis of a number of great books. To present their stories she divides her work into six sections, each with a different theme based on how or why the How do writers generate ideas for their stories? What led writers to create some of the most famous works in literature? Acknowledging that no one can define exactly what inspired an author to write, much has been written about the events leading up to a the creation of a great novel and so Johnson tries to answer that question by exploring the genesis of a number of great books. To present their stories she divides her work into six sections, each with a different theme based on how or why these works were written. In the first section titled “When Lightning Strikes”, she examines those novels written because their authors were struck by some serendipitous thought while performing a mundane task. The idea may have just arrived out of nowhere or had been simmering quietly in the back of the writer’s mind, waiting for a moment to be revealed. She describes Tolstoy seeing the vision of a “bared female elbow” while drifting off to sleep after a heavy meal and later having that vision elaborated with “a ball gown and sorrow on a beautiful face”. Tolstoy felt compelled to tell the story around this fleeting daydream, and began his well known novel Anna Karenina. In the same way, Robert Louis Stephenson used the spark of an idea created by a water colour of a remote island he had painted and combined this with the character of a friend who had lost a leg to TB to place Long John Silver in “Treasure Island, his famous children’s tale. And George Orwell was struck by the sight of a farm boy righting a cart gone astray by directing his horse with a whip providing Orwell with a long sought metaphor for “Animal Farm”. And the simple act of watching a barn spider gave birth to E.B. White’s well known tale of a pig who became the ultimate savior in “Charlotte’s Web”. The opening sentence to Gabriel Garcia’s novel “One Hundred Years of Solitude” came to him as he was navigating the winding roads leading from Mexico City to Acapulco at the beginning of a long awaited vacation with his family. He was then subsequently forced to return home to begin writing his epic tale. In the second section titled “In the Telling”, Johnson writes about novels that spilled out as these authors were engaged in telling stories. Mary Shelley began “Frankenstein” during a vacation with a group who told stories around a fire while waiting out rainy weather. Lewis Carroll began “Alice in Wonderland” to entertain three sisters as he rowed them to a picnic on the Thames River. And William Goldman remembered several of his wartime experiences as he read his children a bedtime story and the idea for “The Lord of the Flies” came to light. In the third section “Catch Me If You Can”, Johnson described authors captivated by a particular personality that they pursue and immortalize in a story. In this way, Jane Austen penned Mr. Darcy for “Pride and Prejudice” from two very special experiences with men in her life. Edgar Allen Poe, struck by the description of a raven called “Grip” in a Charles Dickens novel titled “ Burnaby Rudge”, used it as the basis for the famous bird in his novel “The Raven”. And in a similar way, Mark Twain fashioned his well-known character Tom Sawyer from the personalities of three of his childhood friends: Tom Blankenship, John Briggs and Will Bowen. Conan Doyle based his famous detective Sherlock Holmes on a professor at the University of Scotland who was also a physician at the Royal Infirmary, including the physician’s superb powers of deductive reasoning in his detective’s profile. F. Scott Fitzgerald based the character of Jay Gatsby on a wealthy eccentric millionaire and his rags to riches assistant. Virginia Woolfe’s portrait of Mrs. Dalloway was based on a close family friend of her mother and Hemmingway’s portrait of a lone fisherman in his novel “The Old Man and the Sea” came from his encounter with an old man while fishing off the coast of Cuba and the adventures of a former captain of Hemmingway’s boat “The Pillar”. In section four, “These Mean Streets”, Johnson explores authors who broke the law or delved into crimes committed by others to generate their stories. She describes the creation of Miguel Cervante’s “Don Quixote” who invented his hero while imprisoned in a cramped and smelly Spanish cell and Alexander Dumas who created his characters in “The Count of Monte Cristo” from a real life story of a man bent on exacting justice for those who had him imprisoned. In a similar way, Fyodor Dostoevsky created his characters for “Crime and Punishment” while shackled for four years in a jail cell in Siberia, his tale evolving from a report of a criminal confession he discovered later while scouring records of court trials in France. Harper Lee’s well known novel “To Kill A Mockingbird” evolved from her father’s defense of two black men accused of murdering a white shop keeper and a decades old criminal case in her hometown of a man accused of raping a white woman. Lee’s good friend Truman Capote based his seminal work “In Cold Blood” on the horrific murder of a farm family in Kansas while at the same time creating a new narrative form known as the non fiction novel. S.E. Hinton began her novel “The Outsiders” when she was only fifteen and a friend was brutally beaten while walking home, and Kurt Vonnegut’s novel “Slaughterhouse-Five” was based on the author’s horrific experience as a prisoner of war during the Allied bombing of Dresden. The authors in section six, “The Great Chase”, found their inspiration far from home. In this section she includes Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick”, based on the author’s experiences on a whaling ship, the legendary sighting of an albino whale near Mocha Island off the coast of Chile and the experience of a sea Captain off the Galapagos Islands. Likewise, Joseph Conrad’s penned his novel “Heart of Darkness” based on his experiences piloting a boat on the Congo River. And Jack Kerouac based his famous book “On the Road” on trips he took with his friend Neal Cassady, crossing the United States from coast to coast, at the same time creating a new style of writing that was first person, fast paced, confessional, and serious spilling out spontaneous impressions as they occurred to him while writing. The final section, “On the Job” includes novelists who wrote while working at other jobs to support themselves or who wrote about their jobs long after they had left them. In this section Johnson includes Dashiell Hammett who wrote crime fiction based on his experiences at the Pinkerton’s Detective Agency; Margaret Mitchell who relied on her experiences as a journalist to write “Gone with the Wind”; John Steinbeck who wrote “Mice and Men” based on time spent as a ranch hand in California; Ken Kesey who wrote “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” while working at a Veteran’s hospital in California and Sylvia Plath, who won a 1953 magazine guest editorship at Mademoiselle and used that experience to recount her troubled time in New York City, classifying her book as fiction although it closely followed her own personal story to a mental hospital. This volume is not an academic or scholarly work. It lacks footnotes but does include a good bibliography. I believe it targets the curious reader who is interested to know how some of our well known writers were able to write their stories. There are many accounts of what led each writer to pen their famous works and these are interesting to read. There is a total of fifty authors Johnson has chosen to chronicle and I have not included all of them here. As a reader, I would have preferred a more in depth account of some, but that may not be possible as these authors have left us long ago. We are left with only the accounts and impressions of those who knew or wrote about them and Johnson has does a good job of pulling all that material together for this book.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Jakk Makk

    Inspiration happens. As does: eating, digestion, and the inevitable outcome. This colonoscopy of a book doesn't delve deep enough to find the Dark Heart of the Cancer. The synopsis' feel hollow when viewed through the lens of such legendary works, the book equivalent of YouTube popularity brainletism: Ten Things About Famous Books. None of these mini-histories increased my enjoyment of the novels, so why bother? It might provide you enough annoying trivia to get your funky chicken kicked out of Inspiration happens. As does: eating, digestion, and the inevitable outcome. This colonoscopy of a book doesn't delve deep enough to find the Dark Heart of the Cancer. The synopsis' feel hollow when viewed through the lens of such legendary works, the book equivalent of YouTube popularity brainletism: Ten Things About Famous Books. None of these mini-histories increased my enjoyment of the novels, so why bother? It might provide you enough annoying trivia to get your funky chicken kicked out of your local critique circle. Otherwise, it serves no useful purpose beyond satisfying a morbid curiosity about how sausages get made. It's blood. Lots of blood. Buckets of the stuff. There are two rules in Comedy, start strong and end stronger. This starts with that old mental enema, Mrs. Dalloway, and ends with Sylvia Plath's suicide. Perhaps this reflects the author's feelings about the absence of professional editorship in the Year of Our Lord, 2012, or, maybe the author feels that if you are dumb enough to read the whole thing, you should consider killing yourself. Perhaps I've already delved deeper into the small intestine of this book than the author could be bothered to do. As further evidence, the previous owner highlighted three synopsis before donating. The universe leaves clues, if I am conscious enough to read them.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Viktoriya

    Cute little anecdotes about authors and some of their famous works. It felt like this book was written for a younger audience (even though it doesn't look like the publisher designated it as YA). The stories were short (about 2-4 pages long) and I breezed through them very quickly. Didn't discover anything earth-shattering.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Heather Ford

    This book was not thoroughly researched, and that unfortunately showed in many of the chapters. However, I did learn some fascinating tidbits behind authors I have not read and am now adding quite a few literary works to my to-read pile.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    Three words: shallow, curious, simplistic.

  17. 5 out of 5

    B

    An enjoyable light read. A collection of 4-page backstories on 50 great works of literature. The “essays” don’t go into a lot of depth, but I still liked reading it a little at a time.

  18. 4 out of 5

    MC

    Did you know that the classic books Moby Dick, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Jane Eyre were all based on true stories? Did you know that Anne Shirley's story was inspired when L. M. Montgomery combined her adopted cousin and a famous model, with her imagination mixing in the spunkishness of the character? Or that The Hobbit only saw the light of day because a student of Tolkien's saw promise in it and connected Tolkien with a publisher? There are so many unique tales behind the best-known stori Did you know that the classic books Moby Dick, The Count of Monte Cristo, and Jane Eyre were all based on true stories? Did you know that Anne Shirley's story was inspired when L. M. Montgomery combined her adopted cousin and a famous model, with her imagination mixing in the spunkishness of the character? Or that The Hobbit only saw the light of day because a student of Tolkien's saw promise in it and connected Tolkien with a publisher? There are so many unique tales behind the best-known stories, or any story, really. Pick a book, any book, and the tale of it's creation is sometimes as interesting (or maybe more so) than the story between the pages. And boy, is it a lot fun to discover the facts behind your favorite books. The problem is that it seems that the more popular a book becomes, the harder it is to separate the actual “facts” behind it's genesis, from the myths. Author Celia Blue actually researched the details behind many of the biggest literary classics of the past couple of centuries, and compiled the details in her book, Dancing with Mrs. Dalloway. The title is a clever reference to the act of getting to know personally the characters of each story, in this case a character by Virginia Woolf. The book is divided into sections. Each section contains a group of stories that are compiled in that part of the book based on a common theme about how the authors came up with their plots. Blue then went from the earliest to latest entry for that section in terms of year of publication. The selections are short, to the point, and written in very engaging, witty language. I breezed through the book, and found myself really enjoying the snippets about the various authors and their works. One of the best parts, as I alluded to in the first paragraph, was discovering the real-life inspirations of many of these classics. It seems that a great many were “ripped from the headlines”, if you can forgive the cliché. The only problem with Blue's approach to the biographical snippets was also a strength. That was her extremely non-judgmental tone. This was good, in that Blue did not betray her own ideological point of view on any subject, author, or story, which would have ruined my enjoyment. It was bad, though, in that it is mighty disconcerting to have drug abuse, sexual promiscuity, and gross mistreatment of other people treated as everyday, bland occurrences. That really took me a bit by surprise, and I found myself wondering what was up with these folks. On the other hand, whether Blue intended it to or not, the very matter-of-fact reporting of some of the less than stellar personal choices of various authors really showed how contemptible they were despite their literary genius. There can be no danger of being deluded into idolizing some of these folks once you've read this book, I can assure you. This is a fun, informative work that is ideal for any bibliophile who is really interested in how various stories developed from the minds of their authors to the written page. Recommended.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Savannah

    [This is an excerpt from a post on my personal review blog.] For some, like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, it was a game: her monster was born form the idea of horror itself, his bits and pieces belonging to an overheard conversation on the topic of the reanimation of bodies. For others, like Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, the steps of the cerebral sleuth had been tread by another, as the masterful detective was based off of - at least partially - a one time medical professor of Doyle's. For [This is an excerpt from a post on my personal review blog.] For some, like Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, it was a game: her monster was born form the idea of horror itself, his bits and pieces belonging to an overheard conversation on the topic of the reanimation of bodies. For others, like Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes, the steps of the cerebral sleuth had been tread by another, as the masterful detective was based off of - at least partially - a one time medical professor of Doyle's. For C.S. Lewis' Narnia books, the inspiration came at the age of sixteen; the final product, at forty. For Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, he knew the geography and topography of the tropical island before he even began to think of its inhabitants. The book itself is clear and well-written, which allows the magic of the stories BEHIND the stories to really shine through. When dealing with a lot of layers, its sometimes best to just stick to what's most easily understandable, and for this collection of brief anecdotes, the simple presentation allows for full comprehension of the information it relates. Which is helpful, and interesting. And, seeing as though it is a book about what inspired books, I'm glad to hear about Johnson's own origin story: after a repeat re-read of Woolf's Mrs. Dalloway, she was intrigued by the underlying history, and this interest led to a veritable scavenger hunt through literature, to find out how some of her favorite books came to be.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Karen

    This was a fun, light read - each short chapter discusses a well-known work of literature and gives a little bit of background about how the author was inspired to write it. Some of the stories were familiar to me - Winnie-the-Pooh, Pride and Prejudice - but many were not. I picked up some interesting information and also got some ideas for books I need to add to my to-read list! The writing is simple and straightforward; the author conveys her stories in an accessible way, with only a few clunke This was a fun, light read - each short chapter discusses a well-known work of literature and gives a little bit of background about how the author was inspired to write it. Some of the stories were familiar to me - Winnie-the-Pooh, Pride and Prejudice - but many were not. I picked up some interesting information and also got some ideas for books I need to add to my to-read list! The writing is simple and straightforward; the author conveys her stories in an accessible way, with only a few clunkers ("A car slowed and stopped to pick up the young writer, his blue eyes sparkling with excitement.") She starts every chapter pretty much the same way, which got a little tiresome - the author is always shown in the midst of some sort of action ("Lucy Maud Montgomery scanned the worn pages of her notebook"..." "L. Frank Baum leaned back against the hat rack in his hallway...") This was not enough to keep me from enjoying the book, though, and I'd recommend it to fellow readers and writers who are interested in learning more about the writing processes of some great authors.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Marathon County Public Library

    Have you ever wondered what inspired a particular author to write a book? For instance, why did Margaret Mitchell write "Gone with the Wind?" What drove Ernest Hemingway to pen "The Old Man and the Sea?" What inspired L. Frank Baum to create "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz?" Author Celia Johnson provides the intriguing back stories to those literary classics and many more in her fascinating book, "Dancing with Mrs. Dalloway." Johnson book traces the origins of some 50 famous titles. Along with the a Have you ever wondered what inspired a particular author to write a book? For instance, why did Margaret Mitchell write "Gone with the Wind?" What drove Ernest Hemingway to pen "The Old Man and the Sea?" What inspired L. Frank Baum to create "The Wonderful Wizard of Oz?" Author Celia Johnson provides the intriguing back stories to those literary classics and many more in her fascinating book, "Dancing with Mrs. Dalloway." Johnson book traces the origins of some 50 famous titles. Along with the aforementioned titles, she covers "Anna Karenina," "Around the World in 80 Days," "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest," "Crime and Punishment," "Animal Farm" and "Frankenstein" in short, pithy chapters. Wonderfully informative, Johnson's book will supply the rest of the story to curious minds. Recommended.Mike O. / Marathon County Public Library Find this book in our library catalog.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Alisha

    I really enjoyed reading this collection of true stories about authors and their famous novels they created. Each story is no longer than a couple pages, so if you want something more in-depth, this isn't for you. However, I was really intrigued by this book and it has made me interested in re-reading some of the classics discussed. It has also piqued my interest in reading a full-length biography or two. I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in classic fiction, biography or those w I really enjoyed reading this collection of true stories about authors and their famous novels they created. Each story is no longer than a couple pages, so if you want something more in-depth, this isn't for you. However, I was really intrigued by this book and it has made me interested in re-reading some of the classics discussed. It has also piqued my interest in reading a full-length biography or two. I would recommend this to anyone who is interested in classic fiction, biography or those who like surfing wikipedia pages.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    A bunch of short stories about how authors came up with ideas for their famous books. It was interesting to read and I'd have liked to have seen more in there. Some of them I knew, some I didn't. I may have skimmed over ones I had no interest in, but that was on me, not the book. It was an easy read, but I'd have to say a good one.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Lars Bunch

    An entertaining collection of brief origin stories of famous novels. I had only planned to read a couple of entries, but ending up reading the whole collection through the course of a day. This is a good "popcorn" sort of book; nothing deep that requires thought and concentration, but well written and interesting.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    This is a collection of stories behind the stories. Some of them were well know but others I hadn't heard before. It's a quick read and my one complain would be that some of the stories were just way to short, only 2 pages.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Jim Zubricky

    It was a cute book with each chapter being 3-5 pages about an important work in literature and the story behind it. It was okay -- a very fast read. I skipped over parts of it because I did not read those works (and would like to!) but overall, it's a short and sweet collection of essays.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Jen Fumarolo

    This was a fun collection of tales describing the impetus for many literary classics we know and love or at least have on our to-read lists. It's kind of cool to see how different stories came to be or what a particular author found as inspiration. Fun little read.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Janet

    I cannot imagine the amount of research that went into this book. Johnson seems to do a very careful job of sticking to the facts. If there’s a certain detail that she’s unsure about, or that there isn’t a record of—she doesn’t hypothesis. She comes right out and says so.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Leah Rachel von Essen

    It was very interesting, even for the books that I haven't read yet (did get some spoilers of course, so be warned of that). I think JK Rowling should have been included as well. Other than that, very good and interesting.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Rowan MacBean

    3.5 STARS I really enjoyed reading about all the different ways authors of classic literature gained their inspiration. I also really appreciated that this book's author made it clear when there was any doubt about the veracity of any of the stories.

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