Tag Archives: Writer

Phillis Wheatley’s Story

Hi everyone, hope you are all okay. This week’s blog is to do with Black History Month. I think it is important to celebrate the lives of those who changed the world, despite adversity and all of the bad events that occurred in their lives, some managed to achieve their status as being the first black author or poet, to the first politician, from the first Mathematician to the first Aviator, and there is so many more that have overcome bigotry, racism and being slaves, etc…

Biography

Phillis Wheatley was to become a first as she was to become the first African American female poet that got published. Phillis was born in Senegal or Gambia in 1753. As a young child of eight she was brought over to the United States as a slave in 1761 on a ship which she had boarded called ‘The Phillis.’

She was then bought by a wealthy family in Boston and it was there she was given their surname Wheatley. No-one knows her real name, so she was given the name Phillis by the Wheatley family because that was the name on the ship that had brought her over to the states.

The Wheatley family soon became aware of how bright and intelligent she was, and even though it is not common for slaves, especially female slaves to be educated, that Susanna and her children helped to educate her. She proved to be an outstanding student, which she excelled in numerous subjects and prove to be an excellent scholar and the Wheatley’s had encouraged her to pursue writing and had allowed her to abandon her slave duties. It was not until 1773 her book of poems of various subjects that catapulted her to stardom as she became the most famous African American in the world at that time.

Interesting Facts

  • The Wheatley’s names were John and Susanna Wheatley.
  • Phillis had been kidnapped as an eight-year-old in Africa and brought to America to be sold. She was brought over to Boston on an enslaved person ship.
  • She was purchased as a slave by John Wheatley, for his wife Susanna, even though she was in poor health.
  • She couldn’t speak any English when she came to the Wheatley family.
  • African Americans were discouraged and intimidated from learning how to read and write.
  • Even though she was supposed to be a slave for Susanna, it was Susanna who chose to educate the young girl, even though Phillis’ health was not particularly good, but her intelligence was difficult to ignore.
  • Susanna Wheatley and her husband John, and their own children all played a role in Phillis’ education. They taught her to read and write and she studied Latin, Greek, English, Ancient history, literature, and mythology.
  • By the time Phillis was 12 she published her first poem. It was published in the Newport Mercury. Its title was On Messrs. Hussey and Coffin.
  • Her only book was titled Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral. Publishers in America did not want to publish the book because it was written by a slave.
  • Susanna Wheatley used her connections in England to get Phillis’ book published. It became popular in England and soon it became popular in America in the Thirteen Colonies as well.
  • While Phillis Wheatley was the first African American to have a book of poems published, she was also the first slave to have one published as well. She was only the 3rd American woman to have a book of poems published.
  • She was invited to George Washington’s house for a private reading of her poem “To His Excellency, George Washington”.
  • Phillis was the first African American woman to make a living from her writings.
  • Phillis traveled to London, England to promote her work, but when she returned to America several of the Wheatley’s had died. Susanna died in 1774 and John died in 1778, followed by Mary Wheatley (John and Susanna’s daughter) the same year.
  • When John Wheatley died Phillis was freed, according to his will.
  • Phillis tried to publish another book that was unsuccessful. Because her work often included subjects on the Revolutionary War, when it ended her career floundered as well.
  • Phillis married John Peters with whom she had three children. Two of them died in infancy.
  • Phillis’ husband was incarcerated for debt and sent to debtors’ prison in 1784, and Phillis was left to work as a maid in a boarding house to support her infant son.
  • Phillis Wheatley died in poverty at the age of 31, on December 5th, 1784. Her son died a few hours later.

On Imagination

On Imagination is one of Phillis Wheatley’s poems

Thy various works, imperial queen, we see,
 How bright their forms! how deck’d with pomp by thee!
Thy wond’rous acts in beauteous order stand,
And all attest how potent is thine hand.

 From Helicon’s refulgent heights attend,
Ye sacred choir and my attempts befriend:
To tell her glories with a faithful tongue,
Ye blooming graces, triumph in my song.

 Now here, now there, the roving Fancy flies,
Till some lov’d object strikes her wand’ring eyes,
Whose silken fetters all the senses bind,
And soft captivity involves the mind.

Imagination! who can sing thy force?
Or who describe the swiftness of thy course?
Soaring through air to find the bright abode,
Th’ empyreal palace of the thund’ring God,
We on thy pinions can surpass the wind,
And leave the rolling universe behind:
From star to star the mental optics rove,
Measure the skies, and range the realms above.
There in one view we grasp the mighty whole,
Or with new worlds amaze th’ unbounded soul.

Though Winter frowns to Fancy’s raptur’d eyes
The fields may flourish, and gay scenes arise;
The frozen deeps may break their iron bands,
And bid their waters murmur o’er the sands.
Fair Flora may resume her fragrant reign,
And with her flow’ry riches deck the plain;
Sylvanus may diffuse his honours round,
And all the forest may with leaves be crown’d:
Show’rs may descend, and dews their gems disclose,
And nectar sparkle on the blooming rose.

Such is thy pow’r, nor are thine orders vain,
O thou the leader of the mental train:
In full perfection all thy works are wrought,
And thine the sceptre o’er the realms of thought.
Before thy throne the subject-passions bow,
Of subject-passions sov’reign ruler thou;
At thy command joy rushes on the heart,
And through the glowing veins the spirits dart.

Fancy might now her silken pinions try
To rise from earth, and sweep th’ expanse on high:
From Tithon’s bed now might Aurora rise,
Her cheeks all glowing with celestial dies,
While a pure stream of light o’erflows the skies.
The monarch of the day I might behold,
And all the mountains tipt with radiant gold,

But I reluctant to leave the pleasing views,
Which Fancy dresses to delight the Muse;
Winter austere forbids me to aspire,
And northern tempests damp the rising fire;
They chill the tides of Fancy’s flowing sea,
Cease then, my song, cease the unequal lay.

Thank you for stopping by and taking the time to read my blog. See you all next week.

Chris Columbus

Hi everyone hope you’re all doing okay after hearing the news about tighter restrictions being put in place i.e. reducing the numbers of people you come into contact with at one time, to putting businesses under a curfew. It is worrying that Covid has started to spike again, but we were warned that by the time Autumn/Winter comes round there will be a spike, well so far we’re on track for it to happen.

I must admit 2020 has been the worst year yet, but there is only one good thing to come out of this year for me and my family and that is my eldest daughter and her husband are expecting their first baby. I hope by the time all the expectant parents that found out during this horrible pandemic, get to have their new babies the other side of this pandemic. I for one will be keeping my fingers crossed for them.

Now on to my blog! I am doing Christopher Columbus, and no not the explorer, I am talking about the Producer, Writer, Director, Author and that’s to name but a few… It is his birthday today, so happy birthday.

Biography:

Born Christopher Joseph Columbus on 10th September 1958 in Spangler in Northern Cambria, Pennsylvania, USA, to parents Mary Irene [Puskar] a factory worker and Alex Michael Columbus an aluminum plant worker and coal miner. Columbus is an only child and comes from Italian and Czech descent.

He loved making his own storyboards, and it was through his love of creating them that he began making 8mm films in high school. Chris graduated from John F. Kennedy High School, in Warren, Ohio, from there he went onto study at New York University’s Film School at the Tisch School of the Arts where he was schoolmates of screenwriter Charlie Kaufman and Alec Baldwin.

It is during his time at NYU that he received a scholarship, but he had forgotten to renew it, which meant he was forced to get a factory job to pay his way through schooling, and it was while he was working on shifts that he secretly began working on a 20 page screenplay, which his teacher would later use to get him an agent. Chris Columbus has stated that the whole experience “saved my life” as he was faced with the harsh, but terrifying reality that he could spend the rest of his life working in that factory and living in the same town if he didn’t make it.

Columbus was first inspired to make movies from the age of 15 after seeing “The Godfather” and while he was at NYU he sold his first screenplay, but he never produced while a sophomore.

25 Fascinating Facts:

Here is some interesting facts about Christopher Columbus

  • Married Monica Devereux in 1983
  • Is a father of four, three daughters Eleanor Patricia Columbus, Violet Columbus, and Isabella Columbus and to one son Brendan Columbus?
  • Columbus’s fourth script was Gremlins (1984), but it was written as a dark satire of it’s a Wonderful Life (1946).
  • He lived in England for a year and a half, during filming the first two Harry Potter films. For the third instalment of the potter franchise he would commute between England and the US as he decided that he wanted to spend more time with his family.
  • While staying at his wife’s parents house in Chicago, and after they just had their first child, Columbus was sent two scripts by John Hughes. One was for Home Alone (1990), which he fell in love with and struck a chord with him, and he felt he could make a really strong film out of it. He and Hughes hit it off instantly so Hughes gave him the job of directing it.
  • When making Mrs Doubtfire (1993), he and Robin Williams would often clown around between takes, with Mrs Doubtfire introducing Columbus as his son.
  • Columbus became the director on Harry Potter after being a long-time front runner of Steven Spielberg and passed on the project from J.K. Rowling whom he had met in England and won the job after promising her, he would film entirely in the UK and use an all British cast. Most of the crew was also British. He beat several candidates for the job.
  • Once lived in River Forest, Illinois, which shares a high school with the suburb, Oak Park, in which Adventures in Babysitting (1987) was based. Oak Park and River Forest High School’s name was changed specifically for the movie, but they kept the style of the high school’s jackets for the film.
  • Adventures in Babysitting (1987) was Columbus’s first directorial job since his senior thesis film at NYU in 1980. It was his first time working with major lighting, cameras and cinematographers.
  • He now reside in San Francisco with his wife.
  • Had a cameo in Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (1992) as a man in the toy store. He was holding his daughter Eleanor Columbus. 
  • Writing screenplays seemed an inexpensive way for Columbus to graduate towards the director’s chair.
  • A big fan of Marvel Comics as a child in the 1960s, he was especially impressed with the artwork because it was almost the same as filmmaking. He later moved to New York because Marvel Comics were largely set there. He wanted to write or draw for Marvel but decided against it because it’s an isolated existence and he liked working with people. Columbus drew comic book panels in his basement like early storyboards as a child. When he later directed Adventures in Babysitting (1987), one of the characters, Sara is also a big Marvel fan.
  • Wrote three House of Secrets books with Ned Vizzini.
  • Columbus sold scripts to Steven Spielberg that became Gremlins (1984) and The Goonies (1985) but his career didn’t truly take off until after directing Home Alone (1990) and Mrs Doubtfire (1993). He then had greater success with the first two Harry Potter films.
  • Columbus was inspired to become a filmmaker at the age of 15 after seeing The Godfather (1972).
  • Columbus was expected to follow in his parents footsteps which meant working in an automotive or aluminium factory.
  • When he scripted Young Sherlock Holmes (1985) and directed Home Alone (1990), both films have the line “It’s Christmastime”.
  • While in high school, he read an article in Time magazine about film school, and these magical words would teach him about the art of filmmaking.
  • All of his four children made cameos in the Harry Potter films he worked on, and he is the only director on Harry Potter not to make a cameo appearance in one of the films.
  • Brother-in-law of actor Doyle Devereux, who is the bailiff on the Judge Mathis show.
  • He is the only American to have directed a Harry Potter instalment.
  • Considered directing Spider-Man (2002), however passed that up to direct Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001).
  • Started going to the movies at age 10 on Saturday afternoons; one of the first was Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969). It gave him an escape from the dreary factory town he lived in.
  • Casting Harry Potter was a big challenge; they saw 5000 auditions and none of them felt right. Columbus saw Daniel Radcliffe in David Copperfield (1999) and showed it to the casting director and said Radcliffe was the one and that he was amazing. But she said they wouldn’t get him because his parents want him to focus on his schoolwork and not acting as well as all the attention he’d get. So they interviewed Harry Potter’s of different nationalities all over the world and still hadn’t found him. She got frustrated with Columbus because he had his heart set on Radcliffe. By sheer coincidence, the producer and screenwriter went to the theatre and in the front row was Radcliffe with his father, so they talked and slowly persuaded him to cast Radcliffe.

10 Best Movies:

10 of my favorite movies which Christopher Columbus was involved in one way or another whether its Producing Directing, or Screenplays. There is know stopping him. He as made some great movies, these are only but a handful.

  • The Christmas Chronicles (2018)
  • Pixels (2015)
  • Percy Jackson 1 & 2 (2010/13)
  • Night at the Museum 1-3 (2006/9/14)
  • Fantastic 4 1&2 (2005/7)
  • Harry Potter 1-3 (2001/2/4)
  • Mrs Doubtfire (1993)
  • Home Alone 1 & 2 (1990/92)
  • Adventures in Babysitting (1987)
  • The Goonies (1985)

Books:

HOUSE OF SECRETS follows three siblings and their family as they are forced to move to a mysterious new house in San Francisco and end up embarking on a journey to retrieve a dark book of untold power. The first story in an epic fantasy adventure trilogy!

Battle of the Beasts, Book two in the bestselling HOUSE OF SECRETS series. Get ready for another action-packed adventure!

Just when the Walker kids thought they were safe, the Wind Witch blasts Kristoff House into a crazy world of battles, beasts and cyborgs. From the searing heat and clashing swords of the Colosseum, to the snow-capped Tibetan mountains and some seriously freaky monks – the stakes have never been higher!

Clash of the Worlds, The third and final book in the epic HOUSE OF SECRETS series. Get ready for another roller coaster ride of an adventure!

The Walker kids – Cordelia, Brendan and Nell – may have saved the world, but they can’t save their home and must leave Kristoff House. Things can’t get any worse, but then…

Thanks for taking the time to read my blog! See you all next week…