A Short Biographical Dictionary of English Literature, published in 1910- useful for research and reference. Sample:
ATTERBURY, FRANCIS (1662 – 1732). Controversialist
and preacher, was b. near Newport Pagnel, Bucks, and ed. at West
minster School and Oxford. He became the leading protagonist
on the High Church side in the ecclesiastical controversies of his
time, and is believed to have been the chief author of the famous
defence of Dr. Sacheverell in 1712. He also wrote most of Boyle’s
Examination of Dr. Bentley’s Dissertations on the Epistles of
Phalaris, and pub. sermons, which, with his letters to Swift, Pope,
and other friends, constitute the foundation of his literary reputa
tion. During the reign of the Tories he enjoyed much preferment,
having been successively Canon of Exeter, Dean of Christ Church,
Dean of Westminster, and Bishop of Rochester. His Jacobite
principles, however, and his participation in various plots got him
into trouble, and in 1722 he was confined in the Tower, deprived of
all his offices, and ultimately banished. He d. at Paris, Feb. 15,
1732, and was buried privately in Westminster Abbey.

AUBREY, JOHN (1626-1697). Antiquary, was a country
gentleman who inherited estates in several counties in England,
which he lost by litigation and otherwise. He devoted himself to
the collection of antiquarian and miscellaneous observations, and
gave assistance to Dugdale and Anthony a-Wood in their researches.
His own investigations were extensive and minute, but their value
is much diminished by his credulity, and want of capacity to weigh
evidence. His only publication is his Miscellanies, a collection of
popular superstitions, etc., but he left various collections, which
were edited and publ. in the igth century.

AUSTEN, JANE (1775-1817). Novelist, dau. of a clergy
man, was b. at the rectory of Steventon nea* Basingstoke. She

1 6 Dictionary of English Literature

received an education superior to that generally given to girls of
her time, and took early to writing, her first tale being begun m
1 708 Her life was a singularly uneventful one, and, but for a dis
appointment in love, tranquil and happy In 1801 the family went
to Bath the scene of many episodes in her writings, and after the
death of her /. in 1805 to Southampton, and later to Chawton, a
village in Hants, where most of her novels were written. A ten
dencv to consumption having manifested itself, she removed in
May 1817 to Winchester for the advantage of skilled medical
attendance but so rapid was the progress of her malady that she
died there two months later. Oi her six novels, four Sense and
Sensibility (1811), Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814)
and Emma (1816) were pub. anonymously during her life-time;
and the others, Northanger Abbey written in 1798 and Persuasion,
finished in 1816, appeared a few months after her death, when the
name of the authoress was divulged. Although her novels were
from the first well received, it is only of comparatively late years
that her genius has gained the wide appreciation which it deserves.
Her strength lies in the delineation of character, especially of
persons of her own sex, by a number of minute and delicate touches ^
arising out of the most natural and everyday incidents in the life of
the middle and upper classes, from which her subjects are generally
taken. Her characters, though of quite ordinary types, are drawn
with such wonderful firmness and precision, and with such signifi
cant detail as to retain their individuality absolutely intact through
their entire development, and they are never coloured by her own
personality. Her view of life is genial in the main, with a strong
dash of gentle but keen satire: she appeals rarely and slightly to
the deeper feelings; and the enforcement of the excellent lessons
she teaches is left altogether to the story, without a word of formal
moralising. Among her admirers was Sir W. Scott, who said,
” That young lady has a talent for describing the involvements of
feelings and characters of ordinary life which is to me the most
wonderful I ever met with; ” others were Macaulay (who thought
that in the world there were no compositions which approached
nearer to perfection), Coleridge, Southey, Sydney Smith, and E.

AUSTIN, JOHN (1790-1859). Jurist, served in the army
in Sicily and Malta, but, selling his commission, studied law, and
was called to the Bar 1818. He did not long continue to practise,
but devoted himself to the study of law as a science, and became
Professor of Jurisprudence in London University 1826-32. There
after he served on various Royal Commissions. By his works he
exercised a profound influence on the views of jurisprudence held
in England. These include The Province of Jurisprudence Deter
mined (1832), and his Lectures on Jurisprudence.


Aunt Charlotte’s Stories of Greek History
by Charlotte Mary Yonge

Gold Dust A Collection of Golden Counsels for the Sanctification of Daily Life


Days of the Discoverers
by L. Lamprey
Stories, poetry, myth and real;
Sample:”Hi!” called Nils, “where is Mother Elle? See what Thorolf and I have got!”

The children scrambled to their feet and gazed with round eyes, their small hungry teeth munching their morsels of hard bread. Nikolina plucked a bunch of [5] grass for Snow, the foremost cow, and patted her as she ate it.

“The little ones were so tired and hungry,” she said, “that Mother Elle said they might have their supper now, while she and Olof and Anders went on to the saeter. This is wonderful! She was saying only this morning that she feared all the cattle were dead or stolen.”

Within an hour they came in sight of the log huts with turf-covered roofs that sloped almost to the ground in the rear. A broad plain stretched away beyond, and the new grass was of that vivid green to be found in places which deep snow makes pure. Hills enclosed it, and beyond, a gleaming network of lake and stream ended in range above range of blue and silver peaks. The clear invigorating air was like some unearthly wine. The cows at the scent of fresh pasture moved more briskly; the pony tossed his head and whinnied. Not far from the cottages there came to meet them a little old woman, dark and wiry, with bright searching eyes. Her face was wrinkled all over in fine soft lines, but her hair was hardly gray at all. She wore a pointed hood and girdled tunic of tanned reindeer hide, with leggings and shoes of the same. A blanket about her shoulders was draped into a kind of pouch, in which she carried on her back a tow-headed, solemn-eyed baby.

“Welcome to you, Thorolf Erlandsson,” she said, just as if she had been expecting him. “With this good milk we shall fare like the King.”

From a later chapter:
The vehement small speaker waved her slender hand with a gesture that seemed to take in half the horizon. The old Moorish garden, overrun with the brilliant blossoms that drink their hues from the sea, overlooked the harbor. Across the huddled many-colored houses the ten-year-old Beatriz and her playfellow Fernao could see the western ocean in a great half-circle, bounded by the mysterious line above which three tiny caravels had just risen. The sea to-day was exquisite, bluer than the heavens that arched above it. The wave-crests looked like a flock of sea-doves playing on the sunlit sparkling waters. Fernao from his seat on the crumbling wall watched the incoming ships with the far-sighted gaze of a sailor. Portuguese through and through, the son and grandson of men who had sailed at the bidding of the great Prince Henry, he felt that he could speak with authority.[1]

“Of course I am telling you the truth. You are [36] very wise about the sea—you who never saw it until two weeks ago! Gil Andrade has been to places that you Castilians never even heard of. He has seen whales, and mermaids, and the Sea of Darkness itself! He has been to the Gold Coast beyond Bojador, where the people are fried black like charcoal, and the rivers are too hot to drink.”

“Then why didn’t he die?” inquired the unbelieving Beatriz.

“Because he didn’t stay there long enough. And there are devils in the forest, stronger than ten men, and all covered with shaggy hair—”

“I will not listen to such nonsense! Do you think that because I am Spanish, and a girl, I am without understanding? Tio Sancho, is it true that there is a Sea of Darkness?”

Sancho Serrao was an old seaman, as any one would know by his eyes and his walk. For fifty years he had used the sea, as ship-boy, sailor, and pilot. His daughter Catharina had been the nurse of Beatriz, and he had brought coral, shells and queer toys to the little thing from the time she could toddle to his knee.

“What has Fernao been saying to thee, pombinha agreste?” (little wood-dove) he asked soberly, though his eyes twinkled ever so little. He seated himself as he spoke, on an ancient bench that rested its back against the wall just where the wind was sweetest. Under the fragrances of ripening vineyards and flowering shrubs there was always the sharp clean smell of the sea.
I really like the sound of this one.


Post contains affiliate links, however all books are free at time of listing and likely to remain so.

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How Can Children Understand Vocabulary of Good Books?

Vocabulary Lessons the CM Way

Vocabulary Lessons the CM Way

American poet and author Phyllis McGinley says:

“Whose invention was this vocabulary restriction I cannot say [I can!]. Librarians deplore the trend, publishers disclaim responsibility, authors declare themselves stifled by it, children detest it. But the fact remains that somebody has set up as gospel the rule that odd words, long words, interesting words, grown-up words must be as precisely sifted out from a book… as chaff from wheat or profanity from a television program…. “Read-it-yourself” books now come cleverly planned around a vocabulary of three hundred fifty words or thereabouts, and the fact that they are often clever and occasionally brilliantly ingenious does not alter their crippling formula.
Are children never to climb? Must they be saved from all the healthy bumps and bruises of exploration? I suppose the theory drifted down from textbooks, those teacher’s-college-tested readers which are the common and insipid fare of elementary schools. Like many bad things, they were inspired by good intentions. Children, said the educationalists, must be gently led along the path to learning, seduced not prodded. So a vocabulary must be acquired in standard stages and according to procedures formed in a laboratory.”

Children once, Mrs. McGinley points out, read Fox’s Book of Martyrs and theological treatises for little Pilgrims, as well as Pilgrim’s Progress, and Robinson Crusoe.  Quite uneducated children read those books with, and for, pleasure.

We dilute children’s books and stories, weakening them, robbing them of their power when we imagine our children cannot understand without endless vocabulary exercises, quizzes, and worksheets.

Some children will benefit by having a parent or teacher read ahead and pick out a very scant handful of words which are not obviously understood via context, and which our children would not know.  We should limit ourselves to perhaps  2-5 words at most, even if there are more words than that we imagine they won’t understand.  While this advance work can be useful, it’s like salt.  Because a pinch of salt improves the recipe, we do not then add a cup and expect our soup to taste even better.   Overdoing this gentle, light approach by adding more and more vocabulary word and exercises and turning it into projects is like pouring a canister of salt into the soup. Rather than flavoring the soup, you have ruined it. A scant 2 or 3 advance vocabulary words can be just enough to give the child confidence, to open his eyes to finding context for other words, to give him a taste for words, and for the story.  Filling up his time an cramping his hands with vocabulary lists kills the flavor of the reading.

And only do this in advance- never in the middle of a reading (unless the child asks, and even then, if you see the question is shortly answered in the context of the story, tell him to wait and see.  Don’t interrupt the story for your digressions:

We then quickly explain the meaning before the reading, perhaps writing down the words on an index card and having the child write down a short definition of their own. Using the index card for a bookmark will be useful for many children, as well.  However,

“Don’t stop (I say) to explain …. Just go on reading, as well as you can, and be sure that when the children get the thrill of the story, for which you wait, they will be asking more questions, and pertinent ones, than you are able to answer.”—(“On the Art of Reading for Children,” by Sir Arthur Quiller-Couch. More here.)

I know to many it feels wrong to hand kids advanced books and not give them a vocabulary test- or rather, at least two, a before and after.  But that’s because our public school approach to vocabulary words is institutionalized and not really how most of us learn words when we are young.   I have reached the conclusion that culturally, our approach to schooling has done to education, to the life of the mind, what Michael Pollan says we have done to food- we have separated it out into unrelated, unconnected strands, teased it to bits, and turned it into fancily labeled (active enzymes!  New! Improved! ) packages of cardboard within and cardboard without- books are delivery systems.  But this is wrong.

Unless the child has a neurological or physical complication, you do not approach good health with the normal five year old by saying, “Okay, junior, today we will work on building up your abs.” You just encourage a wide range of healthy physical play. And that’s the approach Miss Mason takes to writing and reading and vocabulary and all those skills we call language arts.  She doesn’t isolate skills and work on them outside of any meaningful context.

The children spend years learning all about language, written and spoken, through immersion.  Later they’ll be able apply what they have learned and work individually in any areas where they need extra help. (more here)


So vocabulary need not be covered as a separate, stand-alone topic, especially not before high school (when you might introduce Latin and Greek roots, mainly for the sake of the tests for college).  Children will learn through context and repeated exposure in well written books.  When you do need to give them a hand, it’s still in the context of the books they are actually reading, and you add vocabulary with a light hand- just a couple words, very carefully chosen.

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Don’t pass them by

In the story of the Good Samaritan, 2 devout, very religious people crossed the street rather than notice and attend to the wounded man in need of help. Please don’t pass these kids by.

orphan kids

Stop and look at their faces. Read their stories. Pray for them. Here are some kids who are about to age out of the system. this is the last chance many of them have to ever be hosted, to ever experience living as a kid in a normal family, even for a few weeks (don’t tell me your family isn’t normal. You know what I mean). AND, these kids have sizable grants already made toward their hosting!! 

We all know the story of the Good Samaritan. He did not pass by. He really looked. He stopped.    He bound wounds and provided medicines and provided a safe place for the wounded man to stay while his wounds healed. these children are wounded. they need help. Don’t be those people who just crossed the road and looked away because it was too much trouble, hurt too much, or maybe they had compassion fatigue or social anxiety, I don’t know. I only know these children need help, and we can all do something which could help them. Be Good Samaritans.

Good Samaritans would do something like one of these things:
Forward one of these  posts (or another one from the agency) via social media. It literally costs you nothing but a click of the finger and maybe some embarrassment (?not sure why people don’t share more often. It literally is the least you could do).
Consider hosting and then act.
Contribute something so somebody else can host.
Help out with somebody who is already hosting- donate clothes, drop off a freezer meal, a case of yogurt, a loaf of bread, five dollars, a gift card for the grocery store or a restaurant, a pass for a free skate night or a pass to the pool or _something._ Offer to come over and show a kid how to wire a lamp or sew a button or build a stool or decorate a cake (host parents won’t leave you alone with them- we’re not allowed, even if we didn’t want to spend every minute we can with our kids).

I know there is something you can do, and I know there is somebody who reads your feed who can do something to help these kids, too.

And thanks for reading. Not trying to be negative, but there is a sense of urgency here.

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Great-Grandmother’s Journal, 1951, 1st week of April

WE. March 28
Washed kitchen curtains. ML (a grand-daughter) own for a tea party- ate upper with R. an L.

(ML’s parent’s, R was her youngest by several years. My own grandmother was either her oldest or second oldest, and she was a teen when R. was a toddler. As a child I remember visiting Uncle R. and Aunt L., a lovely couple, great fun, very kind to us. All 3 of their children were interested in science and their yard was full of interesting things- a wading pool the boys had turned into a pond complete with frogs and a turtle. My mother’s cousins, 2 were in college when I was visiting, and the baby was in high school, perhaps 10 or 11 years older than I).

L. and Gracie went to woman’s club. Had a style show. Someone wore Aunt Sallie’s Polynaise at the show. L. said it was a good style show. I staid with the children- both were very good.

March 29, thursday
Paid conference dues, 3.00
L. and I went shopping.

March 30, Friday
Washed curtains and window in the kitchen. R. and L. here for supper.
I kept the baby while they shopped. R. paid rent $40.
Gas and lights 5.53
Mrs. Power called me today from Gary. Helper her niece out who has been quite sick.
(I think Mrs. Power rented an apt in her house from my great-grandmother)
Groceries: $6.14

My great-grandparents lived in a large brick house in Indiana Harbour. Where their house stood, a yacht club stands today. However when they lived there, the air was black and grimy from factory and steel mills. Everything they owned which they moved to the house we call the Rattery was sooty. My great-grandfather had been a teacher when they met, but she wouldn’t marry him unless he changed jobs, because she didn’t believe a teacher’s salary could support a family. He got a job at the steel mills. He worked in the office, but his lungs were what killed him. Otoh, he outlived his 3 siblings by many years, and he was 73 when he died. My great grandmother began her journals the year after he died. She outlived him by 19 years.

He served on the school board, and their house was always full of books. All of their children graduated from college, including the 2 girls. My grandmother was born in 1907. Her degree was in botany.

April 3
Paid electrical bill on Rattery house (their ‘cottage’)- 1.00
Paid water: 2.34
telephone: 4.50
Paid taxes on Rattery house- 37.98

April 4, Wednesday
Paid 21.94 for screens and underwear at Sears. Also a black petticoat

April 5,
Wento to Chicago- attended session of conference. Wonderful program. Went to Dr. Waughs, gave ma another x-ray treatment. Pid my two weeks bill to him, $20.00
Paid half my tax installment- 102.46

April 6, Friday
Cleaned the house.
L’s parents’ came.

… We had double in-laws. L. married my great-uncle R. and L’s brother married my great-aunt B, R’s sister. they came from New Jersey, and Aunt L. stayed in the Chicago/Indiana area with her husband, and Aunt B. went back to New Jersey and stayed there with her husband.

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How Does Hosting Help if You Aren’t Adopting?

We wondered the same thing and we asked. While they cannot come live with us when they age out (US laws), we can still maintain a relationship, which many families do- letters, phone calls, emails, and gifts. So they have adults in the background who care about them and they know it, and can ask for advice, and be reassured that they are valuable. Kids who have aged out have said being hosted helped for several reasons- it showed them how to do some things independently which they had not learned in the orphanage (cooking, laundry, budgeting), helped their English skills (giving them an advantage). It boosted their confidence and makes them less afraid of being on their own.

And for many, just knowing somebody actually really did care about them somewhere gave them courage and helped them make different choices than they would have otherwise. Some of them have said that before hosting, they didn’t think it mattered what they did, so they stole or smoked or skipped school because nobody cared, really, what happened. After hosting, they knew what they did didn’t matter just to them alone, but to others as well.

It’s not, perhaps, a huge deal, but they also get eye exams and dental care here which they would not get at home- our boys had abscesses in their mouths the dentist said had to have been there for years. He pulled rotten teeth, filled those which could be saved, cleaned out their mouths and gave them antibiotics. Clearing up infections they’ve had for years has to make a difference, too.

Our boys did not know how to do dishes, clean a toilet or sweep. Nor could fry an egg (not even the 14 1/2 y.o.). We taught them how to do those things, and intend to show them a few more while they are here. I have a list of basic, cheap meals I will be teaching the oldest in particular- I asked a friend in Ukraine for suggestions so I could be sure it would be things he can make cheaply back home.

Some kids do get adopted- even if not by their host family. One of the things host families do is put out feelers for families who might wish to adopt (we know we’ve had 3 inquiries about the boys. We don’t know where those inquiries are in process now, or if all fell through- because that’s not our responsibility).

But if they are not adopted, it still helps. It’s not as good as having a family. But it’s still better than not being hosted at all, according to the kids themselves.

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