No one seems to really party for the birthday of philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, born in Vienna in 1889. He was described by his colleague Bertrand Russell as “the most perfect example I have known of genius as traditionally conceived: passionate, profound, intense, and dominating.”
This fellow Austro-Hungarian gave away his inheritance to his siblings, and also to an assortment of Austrian writers and artists, including Rainer Maria Rilke.
Today is when we celebrate the birth and death of William Shakespeare, born in Stratford-upon-Avon, England (1564).
We’re not entirely sure about the day he was born but he was baptized on April 26th, and since infants were usually baptized about three days after their birth, his birthday is celebrated today.
In Shakespeare’s time, plays were not published for readers. If they were written down in one place, it was usually as a “prompt-book,” an official copy for actors. When plays were reproduced, it was often without the consent of the writer. Twenty-two of Shakespeare’s plays were published during his lifetime, but they are very different than the versions that were published just after Shakespeare’s death, with the support of his theater troupe — those new versions became the standard texts. No one knows how much of any of these versions was reconstructed from stage notes or from the memories of people who had seen the play performed.
Shakespeare wrote poems, including his famous sonnets, and 38 plays. He died on this day in 1616 at the age of 52.
“One day’s exposure to mountains is better than cartloads of books.”—
Today - the day before Earth Day - is the birthday of writer and naturalist JOHN MUIR
who was born in Dunbar, Scotland (1838). When he was 11 years old, his family moved to America and started a farm in Wisconsin.
He was working as a sawyer in Indianapolis when he had a terrible accident in the shop: An awl pierced his right eye, and he went completely blind, temporarily. When his eyesight returned, he quit his job and went out to Yosemite in California.
In his later life, Muir devoted most of his time to the preservation of the Western forests. He petitioned the U.S. Congress for the National Park bill that was passed in 1890, establishing both Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks. Because of the spiritual quality and enthusiasm toward nature expressed in his writings, he was able to inspire readers, including presidents and congressmen, to take action to help preserve large nature areas. He is today referred to as the “Father of the National Parks.”
His books include Studies in the Sierra (1874), Our National Parks (1901), The Yosemite (1912), and Travels in Alaska (1915).