Love, like fire, goes out without fuel.
Mikhail Lermontov (born October 15, 1814) was a Russian Romantic poet and author who died in a duel at 26 years old, but in his short life he proved himself a gifted thinker and was deemed the successor to the great Russian writer Alexander Pushkin. Among Lermontov’s last poems—considered masterpieces—are The Cliff, A Leaf, Argument, Meeting, and Prophet. He’s also remembered as a playwright (A Strange Man, Masquerade) and novelist (A Hero of Our Time).
I think that you’ve got to make something that pleases you and hope that other people feel the same way.
Thomas Keller (born October 14, 1955) is a Michelin three-star chef, famous for his exacting standards at restaurants like the French Laundry, Per Se, and Bouchon. He’s also the bestselling author of multiple cookbooks, including The French Laundry Cookbook, Under Pressure: Cooking Sous Vide, Ad Hoc at Home, Bouchon, and Bouchon Bakery—the last offering recipes for everything from French macarons and mille-feuilles to his take on Oreos and Hostess’s Ho Hos. It’s bedside reading with a glass of milk.
If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.
Elmore Leonard (born October 11, 1925) packed his popular westerns and crime thrillers with gritty details and realistic dialogue—no surprise, then, that many of his stories were made into blockbuster movies with Hollywood’s biggest stars. Think 3:10 to Yuma, Hombre, Valdez Is Coming, Get Shorty, Out of Sight, and Jackie Brown (a Quentin Tarantino adaptation of Rum Punch). Even before he was in the spotlight, though, Leonard—as a fifth grader in Detroit—wrote a play inspired by the book All Quiet on the Western Front.
Unlike baked beans, loaves of breads or Fuji apples, books once consumed, do not disappear.
John Sutherland (born October 9, 1938) has built a distinguished career as a British academic scholar specializing in Victorian fiction. He’s taught at schools like University College London and Caltech, written regular columns for The Guardian, and produced popular works on literary history (So You Think You Know Jane Austen?) in addition to titles that celebrate his lifelong passion (How to Read a Novel). His autobiography is called The Boy Who Loved Books—which simply says it all.
There are books so alive that you’re always afraid that while you weren’t reading, the book has gone and changed, has shifted like a river.
Marina Tsvetaeva (born October 8, 1892) is considered one of the most accomplished Russian poets of the 20th century—but her life was filled with sorrow and tragedy. She primarily wrote lyrical verse, and when she left the Soviet Union to live in Berlin, Prague, and Paris, her work began to reflect a growing nostalgia for her homeland (Homesick for the Motherland). Ultimately her army officer husband was arrested for espionage along with their daughter, and Tsvetaeva killed herself in 1941 after he was executed.
Creativity requires a state of grace. So many things are required for it to succeed.
Magda Szabó (born October 5, 1917) was a prominent Hungarian writer, known for her poetry, plays, and novels that attracted a wide readership even as she faced censorship under Stalin’s communist government. She received numerous literary prizes during a career that produced popular works like Abigél, Old-Fashioned Story, Mural, The Fawn, Honey-Cake for Cerberus, and the memoir Für Elise. She was married to the writer and translator Tibor Szobotka, and The Door—written in 1987—is modeled after events in her own life.
Nothing but writing rests me; only then do I seem completely myself!
Kate Douglas Wiggin
Kate Douglas Wiggin (born September 28, 1856) headed the first free kindergarten on the West Coast, in San Francisco, and a few years later helped establish a training school for kindergarten teachers. Her children’s books are still favorites today, especially Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm, which was made into a 1917 film starring Mary Pickford and a 1938 film starring Shirley Temple. Her autobiography, My Garden of Memory, was published the year she died, in 1923.
A creative life cannot be sustained by approval any more than it can be destroyed by criticism.
Will Self (born September 26, 1961) is an English novelist and TV personality who is married to the Scottish journalist Deborah Orr. He’s best known for his novel Dorian, which reimagines Oscar Wilde’s The Picture of Dorian Gray, and his novel Umbrella, which was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize in 2012. As a journalist, his writing has appeared in The Guardian, The New York Times, and GQ, among other publications.
While most girls run away from home to marry, I ran away to teach.
Mary Church Terrell
The daughter of former slaves, Mary Church Terrell (born September 23, 1863) was a cofounder and the first president of the National Association of Colored Women as well as a charter member of the NAACP. She graduated from Oberlin College, taught school in Washington, D.C., and served on the District of Columbia Board of Education—the first African American woman to hold such a position. Her autobiography, A Colored Woman in a White World, captures her lifetime of work as a civil rights activist and lecturer on women’s suffrage and social justice issues.
Food. Drink. Sleep. Books. They are all drugs.
Fay Weldon (born September 22, 1931) is a British novelist and playwright as well as a radio and TV writer, with credits including a BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice and the popular 1970s series Upstairs, Downstairs. Married three times, the mother of four has spent much of her career examining male-female relationships and the lives of contemporary women. Among her best-known works are The Fat Woman’s Joke, The Life and Loves of a She-Devil, Puffball, and Auto Da Fay (her autobiography).