March 24: Joel Barlow, Hartford Wit and American Diplomat

  Joel Barlow, American poet and one of Connecticut’s most ambitious — albeit not always successful — learned men of the late 18th century, was born on this day in 1754 in the western Connecticut town of Redding. As a member of the Yale class of 1778, the bright young man found himself surrounded by…

February 11: England’s Greatest Novelist Speed-Visits New Haven

  On the evening of February 11, 1842, three words spread through the streets of New Haven like wildfire, causing crowds of people to rush toward the city’s downtown Toutine Hotel: “Dickens has come!” Just before 8:00pm that night, Charles Dickens had arrived at the city’s Union Station, traveling by rail from Hartford. The man…

October 29: The First Issue of the Country’s “Oldest” Newspaper

  In October of 1764, 29-year-old Thomas Green, a fourth-generation printer, suddenly found himself out of a job working at the Connecticut Gazette print shop in New Haven. The Gazette, Connecticut’s very first newspaper, had been established several years earlier by the enterprising Benjamin Franklin, who had just sacked Green in order to install his…

October 17: Jupiter Hammon, First Published African-American Writer

  Jupiter Hammon, an enslaved man, poet, and devout Christian who became the first published African-American writer, was born on this day in 1711 on the Lloyd family estate on Long Island. While little is known about the finer details of Hammon’s life, as a boy, young Jupiter was educated alongside the Lloyd family’s children…

May 8: Author and Illustrator Maurice Sendak Dies

  Today in 2012, longtime Connecticut resident Maurice Sendak died in Danbury from complications following a stroke.  Sendak was a prolific childrens’ book author and illustrator who wrote and illustrated dozens of books for over a fifty-year period.  Born into a Jewish family in Brooklyn in 1928, Sendak was a self-taught illustrator who found work…

April 21: Mark Twain, American Author & Satirist, dies in Redding

  On this day in 1910, Mark Twain, one of America’s most famous authors and Connecticut’s most famous residents, died at his home in Redding, Connecticut. Born Samuel Langhorne Clemens, he grew up in Missouri and traveled extensively, working as a newspaper reporter and fiction writer, until settling with his family in 1871 in the…

July 3: Charlotte Perkins Gilman Born in Hartford

  Author, feminist, and social reformer Charlotte Perkins Gilman was born on this day in 1860.  Since her father was absent for most of her childhood, Gilman often spent her time visiting her great aunts, the famous Beecher sisters: author Harriet Beecher Stowe, education reformer Catherine Beecher and suffragist Isabella Beecher Hooker. Between her aunts’…

June 10: Author Robert Ludlum’s Connecticut Connection

  Today in 1951, Robert Ludlum, one of the bestselling authors of all time, graduated from Wesleyan College in Middletown, Connecticut with a B.A. in Drama and high hopes of becoming a world-famous actor. Born in New York City in 1927, Ludlum developed a love for the theater while attending private school in Cheshire, Connecticut,…