Let’s start this day with two of the early masters of the Gothic novel. First is Ann Radcliffe who was born on this day in 1764. Second is Matthew Lewis who was born in 1775. Elias Howe was born in 1819. He invented the sewing machine.
The Italian composer Ottorino Respighi was born in 1879. Although technically a Romantic period composer, that gives the wrong impression. Like Claude Debussy, he is more proto-modern. But it depends. He did a whole lot of different things. This may not be that surprising, given that he was a notable musicologist. Here is his Antiche Danze ed Arie Ottorino, Suite Three performed by the Camerata Bern chamber orchestra:
Author of more than 700 novels, Barbara Cartland was born in 1901. She lived to be almost 100, but I don’t think that was how she managed to write so much. It was more that she wrote crap. But racy crap. Think: Jackie Collins.
Novelist Dean Koontz is 68. O. J. Simpson, the great running back and probable psychotic killer, is 66. The great actor Chris Cooper is 62. Tom Hanks is 57. Crush of my youth, Kelly McGillis is 56. Crush of my late 20s, Courtney Love is 49. And the kid in The Princess Bride, Fred Savage is 37.
The day, however, belongs to the great neurologist and writer Oliver Sacks. I love his writing on neurological disorders. They terrify me, because I am very much a hypochondriac, and I can almost feel the diseases taking over my brain while reading about them. One of these books is the brilliantly titled The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Other Clinical Tales. His book Musicophilia was the basis of the Nova program “Musical Minds”:
Happy birthday Oliver Sacks!