For this week’s blog, I thought it would be interesting to take a look at some stories being reported in the literary world in the past 7 days:
1. Literary map: The Liverpool Echo was in uproar this week after Travelzoo (a tourism website) released a literary map this week and Liverpool had not been included. The map was created in order to allow people to visit the place where their favourite books have been set. This was considered surprising to the Liverpool Echo, who stated that Liverpool had a rich heritage of literature, for example, Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights and Charles Dickens entering the Liverpool Police Force to provide research for his novel The Uncommercial Traveller in 1860.
Some of the places that did make it on the map are as follows:
- Northern Ireland
- Yorkshire Moors
- Lake District
- South Wales
2. Berkshire Festival of Women Writers: This is the 6th annual festival and will take place between the 12th and 20th March, offering 33 events over the 9 day festival. The founder, Jennifer Browdy, is quoted saying that the event is to allow women to network with other female writers, to prevent them from feeling isolated as they try to tackle the challenges of writing. For more information, follow this link https://berkshirewomenwriters.org/
3. Oldest bookstore in America: The Guardian reported on the oldest bookstore this week. The Moravian Book Shop, which is located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, is still open 270 years after it was founded. Since its opening in 1745, the shop has grown over the years and has expanded into neighbouring buildings bringing the shop to 15,000 square feet in size. According to the manager, the store has its own ghost. This is supported by employee, Jane Clugston, who has seen a dark figure lurking between the shelves.
4. Books in the Antarctic: BBC news posted an article about the books that were taken on Sir Ernest Shackleton’s expedition to Antarctica in 1915. The news came out on Wednesday 24th when photographs that were taken by Australian photographer, Frank Hurley, were released by the Royal Geographical Society. It is now known the following books were taken with Shackleton:
- Books on other dangerous polar expeditions
- Works by Dostoyevsky and Shelley
5. Facebook’s Artificial Intelligence: New Scientist reports this week that Facebook use children’s books in order to train their computer systems to better understand who the English language works. The ‘Children’s Book Test’ is employed so Facebook can gauge to what extent the computer understands what it is reading. To test the computer’s understanding of the books from the list it is given (books from Project Gutenberg, a free online library), it will be presented with an excerpt of a text it hasn’t read and then asked to fill in the gap of a missing word from a sentence. New Scientist revealed some examples of the books the AI are trained with: The Jungle Book, Peter Pan and Little Women.