If any of you majored in English lit at BYU, you had to buy this book. It is gigantic, about 4 inches thick, and nearly 3000 pages. I got one for American Literature, which I also love, but it was quite used and falling apart when I bought it. Whereas the English lit anthology was brand new. Don't even remember how much it cost, but I believe it was enough to feed a family of six for a month.
I love reading the author bios, to see where they came from, how they lived and what drove them to write against all odds. This is from Mary Wollstonecraft (1759-1797):
"Mary Wollstonecraft's father inherited a substantial fortune and set himself up as a gentleman farmer. He was, however, both extravagant and incompetent, and as one farm after another failed, he became moody and violent and sought solace in heavy bouts of drinking and in tyrannizing over his submissive wife. Mary was the second of five children and the oldest daughter."
Any wonder that she wrote essays on women's rights?
I love reading about the life of Wordsworth. The man walked practically all through Europe, even as a boy. And in college, he and a friend "journeyed on foot through France and the Alps".
He found inspiration for his poetry in nature, and walked daily for long periods of time. I find that so motivational, makes me want to get out there and take a walk.
This is on Robert Browning (1812-1889):
"During the years of his marriage Robert Browning was sometimes referred to as 'Mrs. Browning's husband.' Elizabeth Barrett was at that time a famous poet, whereas her husband was a relatively unknown experimenter whose poems were greeted with misunderstanding or indifference. Not until the 1860's did he at last gain a public and become recognized as the rival or equal of Tennyson."
I find that kind of information incredibly fascinating. I could browse through this volume all day, discovering interesting little tidbits about the lives of writers past. Or I could browse the internet and find interesting tidbits about my fellow writers now. I guess it's pretty much the same thing, learning these things about one another, following their books, seeing the covers, finding out who their publishers are, reading about the editing process, sharing in the joys and frustrations.
It may be 200 years later, but writers still do pretty much the same thing, only with more advanced equipment. We write, we gather to talk about what we are writing, we learn from one another, we sit isolated for long periods of time, we have histories that led us to this point, we care about what others think about our work, we go for long walks to clear our minds.