• Home page of novelist William S. Frankl, M.D.
  • About author William S. Frankl, M.D.
  • Books by novelist William S. Frankl, M.D.
  • Reviews of the writing of author William S. Frankl, M.D.
  • Blog of author William (Bill) S. Frankl, M.D.
  • Contact author William S. Frankl, M.D.
Title: Blog by Novelist William S. Frankl, MD

Archive for October, 2017

Handel Advertises His Wares

Monday, October 30th, 2017

An interesting tidbit from the 18th Century. From my friend, Dan Garshman.

Handel Advertises His Wares

On October 29 in 1739, Mr. George Frideric Handel took out an advertisement, announcing that he was now accepting subscriptions for his new set of 12 Grand Concertos for strings. He had, in fact, finished the first concerto one month before, on September 29th, and spent the next five weeks polishing off the other 11 at the rate of one every two or three days. Handel’s publisher was John Walsh, Jr, who had a shop in London at the sign of the harp and oboe in Catherine Street on the Strand. In addition to being a music publisher, Walsh also billed himself as “instrument maker to his Majesty.” One hundred twenty-two copies of the music were to be printed and sold at a pre-publication price of two guineas each. His Royal Majesty, George II, and the Prince of Wales were not among the initial 100 subscribers, but the list did include three royal princesses and the Duke of Cumberland, and two copies each were sold to the Academy of Music in Dublin and a certain Mr. Charles Jennens. It was Mr. Jennens who was to provide the text for Handel’s next major oratorio, “Messiah,” and the city of Dublin the venue for its famous premiere. So, in 1739, just as today, it pays to advertise!

Happy Birthday, Boswell

Monday, October 30th, 2017

James Boswell

Yesterday, October, 29, was the birthday of the biographer, James Boswell , born in 1740 in Edinburgh, Scotland. His family was descended from minor royalty, and they had occupied the same land more than two hundred years. Boswell’s father was a judge who insisted that his son study law. So James Boswell passed his bar exams in Scotland, but he didn’t really like law and he didn’t really like Scotland. Boswell loved gossip, drinking, and traveling, and he wanted to be in London, to be in the company of the rich and famous. He also wanted to be known as a great lover, so he bragged constantly about his love life.

James Boswell was a good writer with an incredible memory, and he started keeping a journal as a teenager, and he kept it for the rest of his life, filled with reflections and anecdotes about the famous people he befriended—Voltaire, Rousseau, Oliver Goldsmith, John Wilkes. Most of all he wrote about his friend Samuel Johnson. When Boswell was just 22 years old, he met Johnson, who was his idol, in the back of a bookshop. Johnson was 53, and he gave the young Boswell a hard time when he met him, but Boswell went back to visit him anyway and they soon became good friends. Over the next 20 years, Boswell followed Johnson around, and he always had paper and took notes constantly. Johnson was often frustrated with Boswell, and Boswell could be critical of Johnson, but they still liked to spend time together, and they traveled together through Scotland and the Hebrides.

After Johnson’s death, Boswell spent years writing a biography of his friend. He used letters, interviews, as well as his own diary, of which he said, “A page of my Journal is like a cake of portable soup. A little may be diffused into a considerable portion.” Finally, in 1791, The Life of Samuel Johnson was published, and people loved it. There had never been a biography like it before. Instead of a dry recitation of facts, Boswell filled his book with personal anecdotes and vivid descriptions, and overall it was fun to read, and he made Johnson sound like a real person who wasn’t totally perfect. It’s still considered one of the greatest biographies ever written, and it’s a big part of the reason why Samuel Johnson is still so famous today.


William S. Frankl, MD, All Rights Reserved