Monday, December 13, 2004

19th-century writer and anti-smoking activist

An obscure posting of little interest (unless, that is, your name is John Derbyshire). All others are instructed please to go to my main blog, and scroll past this entry immediately.

In answer to Mr. Derbyshire's bleg, it appears that J.F. Neal and John Neal are likely indeed to be one and the same.

All Mr. Derbyshire needed to do was consult the website of the Waterboro (Maine) Public Library. (Wouldn't that have been your first research stop?)

Apparently John Neal (Aug. 23, 1793 - Jun. 20, 1876) was an American writer and author of many works including Brother John. He spent 1823-27 in England where he wrote a series of columns for Blackwood's Magazine, which work was "considered the first effort to chronicle and explain American literature and was reprinted as American Writers in 1937. "

Mr. Neal also taught boxing at Bowdoin College. No word on his middle initial, or his passion for language learning. But he was "known as an editor, architect, lawyer, historian, and women's rights advocate" in addition to being an advocate for minority rights.

Perhaps the most endearing Neal story (to me anyway), is that he,
at 79 years old, is noted for throwing a defiant cigar-smoking passenger off a street car.