In 1605 Miguel de Cervantes published Part 1 of Don Quixote, the first “modern” novel. In 1614 an unidentified author wrote an unauthorized sequel: the first fanfic of the first modern novel.
Although the character was inspired by many real-life spies, the author Ian Fleming took the name James Bond from an ornithologist.
The Treasure of the Sierra Madre was written by a German author under the pseudonym B. Traven. Who was he? We don’t know.
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.