I’ve been packing and recently came across my copy of A Room with a View, a wonderful novel by E.M. Forster. The book was published in 1908 and set in Edwardian England and Italy, which was modern-day at the time. The story concerns the life of a young girl named Lucy Honeychurch.

But don’t worry, no spoilers here!

Piazza Signoria
Piazza Signoria in Florence, where the book opens

E.M. Forster didn’t write a large number of books – but what he did write —! Besides A Room with a View, Howards End and Where Angels Fear to Tread are two of the best books from the first half of the 2oth century.

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Adela Florence Nicolson (née Cory) is a British poet who wrote under the pseudonym Laurence Hope.

Adela Florence Nicolson (Laurence Hope)
Adela Florence Nicolson (Laurence Hope)

Details of her life are scant. At age 16, she left England to live with her father in India, where she remained for the rest of her life. She married a fellow Englishman few years later, who was many years older than her, and they had a son together. Adela, whom friends called Violet, and her husband became immersed in the Indian culture. This culture featured prominently into her poetry.

Laurence Hope’s book of poems The Garden of Kama was published in 1901. Stars of the Desert followed in 1903. The sudden and unexpected death of her husband, who was much older than she, threw the poet into a severe depression and she self-administered a fatal dose of poison in 1904. She was 39 years old.

In 1922, Laurence Hope’s son published a book of his mother’s poetry entitled Selected Poems. Few people read her poetry today. In her day though, her works were famous; her Edwardian and Victorian contemporaries were fascinated by the strange imagery her writing evoked.

The poem copied here was originally published in The Garden of Kama in 1901. Enjoy!

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Rudolph Valentino is possibly the most famous star of the silent film era. He was born in Italy in 1895, and immigrated to the United States at age 18. Initially, he settled in New York City, doing odd jobs and giving tango lessons to keep afloat.

His start in show business came as part of a dancing company, and from there he accepted bit parts in movies until his career took off. Apart from his work as an extra, Valentino starred in 14 films between 1921 and 1926, most notably The Sheik.

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