Today in History: April 14

I could not help remarking and admiring (although from his rich ideality I had been prepared to expect it) a peculiar analytic ability in Dupin. He seemed, too, to take an eager delight in its exercise—if not exactly in its display—and did not hesitate to confess the pleasure thus derived. …—from “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” by Edgar Allan Poe

Graham’s Magazine, a periodical based in Philadelphia, published a story by its new assistant editor, Edgar Allan Poe, 175 years ago today. It was called, “The Murders in the Rue Morgue,” and it was the first popular modern detective story. C. Auguste Dupin is an amateur detective in Paris who uses his powers of analysis—”ratiocination” is Poe’s term—to solve a brutal double murder. Readers follow Dupin and his sidekick (who narrates the tale) as they learn new clues and Dupin perceives their possible relationship to the crime. Every detective in literary history—Holmes, Poirot, Jessica Fletcher—is an offspring of Poe’s Dupin.

As one can see in Poe’s handwritten manuscript at the top, he at first named the story, “The Murders in the Rue Trianon,” but opted for the far more ominous “Rue Morgue.”

* * * *
Noah Webster published the first edition of his dictionary, “An American Dictionary of the English Language,” on this date in 1828. He had been at work on it for three decades. It standardized spelling in what became the American style (“honor” rather than “honour”) and it contained more entries—70,000—than any other dictionary yet available.

* * * *
John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln on this date in 1865. Lincoln died the next morning.

* * * *
President William Howard Taft became the first President to toss a ceremonial first pitch to mark the start of the major league baseball season on this date in 1910.

* * * *
Just before midnight at the end of April 14, 1912, the RMS Titanic brushed against an iceberg for 10 seconds while trying to avoid a direct hit with the berg; the iceberg ripped holes in several spots under the water line along the great ship’s side and water began to pour into the ship. In less than three hours, the entire ship was below the surface of the Atlantic.

* * * *
“Wherever they’s a fight so hungry people can eat, I’ll be there. Wherever they’s a cop beatin’ up a guy, I’ll be there.”—from “The Grapes of Wrath” by John Steinbeck

The novel “The Grapes of Wrath” was published 77 years ago today.

* * * *
Simone de Beauvoir died 30 years ago today. Walter Breuning died five years ago today. He was 114, the fourth oldest verified man ever.

* * * *
Sir John Gielgud was born on this date in 1904. Rod Steiger was born on this date in 1925. Richard Jeni would be 59.

Loretta Lynn is 84 today. Frank Serpico is 80. Julie Christie is 76. Pete Rose is 75. Julian Lloyd Webber is 65. Mikhail Pletnev is 59. Robert Carlyle is 55. David Justice is 50. Greg Maddux is 50 today. Anthony Michael Hall is 48. Sarah Michelle Gellar is 39.

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.

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One comment

  1. Loving these today in history posts you’ve been doing Mark, keep ’em comin’. Marianne

    Like

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