" One always tends to overpraise a long book because one has got through it. "
E. M. Forster

Back in the day


Fire at the US Library of Congress

The Library of Congress, the national library of the US, contains more than 115 million items, including more than 18 million books, 2.5 million recordings, and 54 million manuscripts. Established in 1800 with about 740 books, the collection, which had swelled to about 55,000 volumes by 1851, was largely destroyed by a fire, the second in the library's history. The collection lost in the 1851 fire had been started with the acquisition of which statesman's personal library of 6,487 books?



Fasting Girls

In the Victorian era, "fasting girls" were young females, usually preadolescent, who were purportedly capable of surviving for long periods without consuming any food. In many accounts, the fasting girls not only refused nourishment but also drew attention to their fasts by claiming to have special religious or magical powers. Their ability to survive was often attributed to saints or thought of as miraculous. What special abilities did Mollie Fancher, the "Brooklyn Enigma," claim to have?

Born on a day like today


Howard Robard Hughes, Jr.

Before he became an infamously eccentric recluse, Hughes was a brilliant aviator and movie producer. At 17, he left college to take control of his late father's Hughes Tool Company, which would form the future basis for his vast fortune. After founding the Hughes Aircraft Company, he set a speed record of 352 mph (567 km/h) in a plane he designed, and in 1938, he flew around the world in a record 91 hours. A recluse in his later years, Hughes spent the last decade of his life living where?

Last updated on Friday, 24th December 2010

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