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Literary Lapses

William Shakespeare

Sometimes even the best writers make mistakes. Here are a few.

Daniel Defoe
Robinson Crusoe comes out of the water naked to board a ship, then fills his pockets with biscuits.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
According to the author, Dr. Watson suffered a war injury. In A Study in Scarlet the injury was to Watson’s shoulder, but in The Sign of Four, it has moved to his leg.

Carl Sandburg
In Abraham Lincoln–The Prairie Years, Sandburg has Lincoln’s mother singing a song that was not written until twenty-two years after her son’s death.

William Shakespeare
The bard wrote of a cannon in the reign of King John (cannons were unknown until about 150 years later); of clocks striking the hour in the days of Julius Caesar; and of printing in the days of King Henry II.

From Strouf, Judie LH: Literature Lover’s Book of Lists: Serious Trivia for the Bibliophile; Prentice Hall; 1998.

20 Famous Writers Who Never Finished College

Jack Kerouac

Here’s a list of 20 famous writers who either did not attend or never finished college:

  • Hans Christian Andersen
  • Maya Angelou
  • Ray Bradbury
  • Joseph Conrad
  • Charles Dickens
  • William Faulkner
  • Ernest Hemingway
  • Jack Kerouac (pictured)
  • Rudyard Kipling
  • Doris Lessing
  • Jack London
  • Herman Melville
  • George Orwell
  • Carl Sandburg
  • William Shakespeare
  • George Bernard Shaw
  • Dylan Thomas
  • Mark Twain
  • H. G. Wells
  • Virginia Woolf

That’s an impressive bunch by anyone’s standards, and I didn’t even include those who only wrote poetry (Robert Frost would have been included here, for instance).

My Favorite Plays by William Shakespeare

William Shakespeare

I’ve read all of Shakespeare’s plays at least once, and I’ve read many of them numerous times. Here are my top 10 favorites:

  • Hamlet
  • Henry IV, Part 1
  • Henry IV, Part 2
  • Henry V
  • Henry VI, Part 1
  • Henry VI, Part 2
  • Henry VI, Part 3
  • Macbeth
  • The Merchant of Venice
  • Romeo and Juliet

It wasn’t easy getting the list down to ten, but each time I tried, the Henry plays made the list. They are so underrated—I hope to read them again someday.