For the several of the first modern Olympic Games you could win a gold medal in sculpture, painting, music, literature, or architecture.
In 1947 the English author Dennis Wheatley wrote a letter to the dystopian future he thought was coming and buried it. Twenty-two years later the letter was uncovered. It had not aged well.
Tolkien’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings books have a long history in the Soviet Union and Russia, from illegal translations in the 1960s to a film in the 1980s to an unauthorised retelling sympathetic to the orcs in the 1990s.
Mix egg yolks, dates, honey, vinegar, oil, wine, shallots, and herbs, and then add a roasted flamingo. This is Apicius, one of the earliest surviving cookbooks.
The Poison Damsels of ancient Indian mythology were assassins who could kill someone with a look or a touch.
The best dictionary entry in history appeared in some editions of Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable: “Zymurgist (noun). Brewer. The last word in dictionaries.”
How long would it take to study the whole Talmud, one page a day? Seven and a half years… and it’s best to begin tomorrow.
Before they made the Superman we all know, Siegel and Shuster self-published a zine featuring a bald villain also named Superman.
From 1903 to 1905 a unique comic strip was published in the New York Herald: you would read the first half, then flip the page upside down to read the second half.
Papyrus is expensive. Scripture is repetitive. The earliest Christian texts used a clever set of abbreviations to save space and time.
The idea of the tractor beam first appeared in fiction in 1931. Since then, scientists have worked to make it a reality… and they’ve actually had some success.
Chaucer, Shakespeare, Cervantes, and Rabelais all wrote about the medlar fruit, which must rot before it is ready to eat.
From 1913 to 1929, the hobos had their own newspaper.
The eruption of Mount Vesuvius, which destroyed the Roman cities of Pompeii and Herculaneum, also killed the famous author of one of the earliest encyclopedias.
Lord Byron, the Romantic poet and infamous libertine, wrote a book of memoirs that may have set 19th century England aflame with scandal – if they hadn’t been deliberately destroyed within a month of his death.