FUN BOOK FACTS
J.K. Rowling was not the first author to create a character named “Harry Potter.”
One Polish author had done it 25 years earlier! The boy who lived had, in fact, lived ever since 1972.
A short story entitled “Harry Potter” was published in a communist Poland, on March 19, 1972, in a literary magazine Życie Literackie. Its author, Jan Rostworowski (1919-1975), was a Polish poet and short story writer. In 1940, as a soldier of the Polish Army, he moved to Great Britain, where he spent twenty-eight years.
Rostworowski’s text, published 25 years before Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, tells a story of a seventeen-year-old Harry Potter who, unlike J.K. Rowling’s protagonist, does not receive his Hogwarts letter.
In fact, his life is rather ordinary – as a shopkeeper, he delivers the original Cracovian sausage and pickles. He is not quite talkative, as he replies mostly with “Oh yeah” and “Oh no.” In the end – he suddenly vanishes.
Bogusław Rostworowski, the son of Jan Rostworowski, explained that the story was, in fact, the poet’s memory from times when he used to deliver meat to an English shop. The character of Harry Potter was to depict the shop owner.
Rostworowski made the name up – however, it is important to highlight that the surname “Potter” was rather popular in England at that time.
Apart from the name of the protagonist, the only similarities to J.K. Rowling’s works which can be found in the Polish text are two passages. One of them is: “The telephone in Harry’s house does not ring, but chirps like a bird” – which for the Potterheads might resemble magical carrier owls. The other is that the narrator casts a curse on “Mr. P.” Apart from that – the texts are NOT at all ALIKE.
This monastery in Egypt is home to the oldest continually operating library in the world, established in AD 565.
The library at Saint Catherine’s Monastery at the foot of Mount Sinai is the oldest currently operating in the world, and has the second largest collection of ancient manuscripts and codices, just after Vatican City.
It houses several unique texts, including the Syriac Sinaiticus and, until 1859, the Codex Sinaiticus, the oldest known complete Bible dating back to around 345 CE.
Victor Hugo wrote one of the longest, most grammatically correct sentences ever printed.
Victor Hugo's Les Misérables, published in 1862, is considered one of the finest works of French literature and remains one of the most well-known historical novels ever written.
The novel explores the effects of the French Revolution of 1789 on the population of Paris and explores a wide array of topics including ethics, history, justice, and religion.
Get it: Les Misérables
In the Harvard Library, there are three books suspected to be bound in human skin.
One of Harvard Library’s books, Des destinées de l’ame, is 99.9% certain to have been bound in human skin. It has been sitting in Harvard’s Houghton Library since the 1930s.
The practice of binding books in human skin was not at all uncommon in the 15th century, and was done to commemorate the dead, among other reasons.
Fun Book Fact! THIS MEME IS A LIE!
According to this meme, the editor appealed to the Oxford English Dictionary, saying that the word “dwarves” didn’t exist. The meme ends with Tolkien saying: “I wrote the Oxford English Dictionary. Don’t correct me.”
It’s completely WRONG in a way that anyone who knows anything about Tolkien would spot.
First, Tolkien’s editor would not reject a draft because he disagreed with how he spelled one word. Especially when the author is a distinguished scholar of old languages. They had a very good relationship and the editor admired his writing.
Allen & Unwin, who published The Hobbit, actually begged for a sequel. Tolkien offered them The Silmarillion and they demurred. So Tolkien spent a decade writing LOTR for them.
Second, Tolkien would never have said something so silly as, “I wrote it,” of a vast project like the OED. Work on the OED had begun in 1879. (By 1884, the editors had reached the word “ant.”) The first edition finally appeared in 1928, in ten large volumes. It covered 400,000-some words.
Finally, in a 1937 letter to his editor after the publication of The Hobbit, he calls his usage “a piece of private bad grammar,” but goes on to defend it.
In Appendix F of The Return of the King, he wrote “I have ventured to use the form dwarves, and so remove them a little, perhaps, from the sillier tales of these latter days.”
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There are “human libraries” around the world where you can check-out humans as a living book and listen to their unique life story.
Started in Copenhagen in 2000 and now active in over 80 countries, The Human Library is an international organization focused on addressing people’s prejudices by helping them to talk to those they would not normally meet.
Many of the people you can “lend” are those who the society tends to stigmatize the most – and they often prove that you truly cannot judge a book by its cover.
People who read a lot are more likely to become successful.
Reading improves focus, expands the vocabulary and increases memory. In fact, when Warren Buffett was once asked about the key to success, he pointed to a stack of books laying nearby and said, “Read 500 pages like this every day. That’s how knowledge works. It builds up, like compound interest.” A study of 1,200 wealthy people found that they all have reading as a pastime in common.
And while Warren Buffett might take the habit of reading to a bit of an extreme (he devotes around 80 percent of his time each day to reading), other top entrepreneurs – such as Mark Cuban, Bill Gates, and Elon Musk – all make reading a major part of their day.
Declaration of Independence, the first ebook in the world, was created by Michael Stern Hart on Xerox Sigma V computer.
In 1971, passionate technologist and futurist Michael Stern Hart was given access to a Xerox Sigma V mainframe at the University of Illinois. Inspired by a free printed copy of the Declaration of Independence, he decided to transcribe it into the computer.
He made the file available to other users of the computer network, with the annotation that it was free to use and distribute – marking the beginning of the legendary Project Gutenberg, an initiative dedicated to making books freely available in digital format.
The first ebook in the world is still available at Project Gutenberg.
Leonardo da Vinci’s Codex Leicester was sold to Bill Gates for the equivalent of today’s $50.2 million.
Written in 1510, The Codex Leicester is a 72-page linen manuscript of Leonardo’s thoughts, theories and observations of the world. It came into Bill Gates’s possession in 1994, who then had it digitally scanned, and released some of the images as screen savers and wallpapers for Windows 98 Plus.
A rare fact that has changed many lives involves The Tales of Beedle the Bard.
J.K. Rowling hand-wrote seven copies of the short stories collection and had them bound with jewel-encrusted covers. Six went to people who helped her with Harry's journey, and the final copy was auctioned for £1.95m ($3.98 million). Proceeds went to her charity, Lumos.
Get it: Beedle the Bard