According to Writer’s Almanac there are three birthdays to celebrate today.
First, there’s novelist Herbert George (H.G.) Wells, who was born in Bromley, England in1866. According to the note I got from Writer’s Almanac, Wells had a job writing biology textbooks until he developed a respiratory illness in his late 20s. Since he thought he didn’t have long to live, he left his wife and ran away with another woman, after which he began writing furiously. In roughly three years, he published all the novels for which we know him: The Time Machine, The Island of Dr. Moreau, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds.
It’s also the birthday of the novelist Stephen King, born in Portland, Maine in 1947. His father was a merchant seaman who left the family when Stephen was just two. He has no memories of his father, but one day he found a whole box full of his father’s science fiction and fantasy paperbacks, and that box of his father’s books inspired him to start writing horror stories.
He was working as a teacher when he wrote his first novel about a weird high school girl with psychic powers named Carrie White. He gave up on the book at one point and threw it in the trash. His wife rescued it. Carrie was published in 1973. The hard cover didn’t sell well, but then his agent called to say that the paperback rights had sold for $400,000.
Lastly, but, perhaps, most importantly, today is the birthday of the man who first put high quality literature into paperbacks, Sir Allen Lane, born in Bristol, England in 1902. He was the founder of Penguin Books.