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The Limerick: A Brief History

 One of the first limericks known to man. Note the obscenity in line two.

Sunday, May 12, is National Limerick Day, an event traditionally celebrated by dressing like Edward Lear and rhyming things with Nantucket. But for all the hallowed tradition surrounding this beloved poetic form, most of us know precious little about the limerick and how it became such a popular from of rhymery. So this weekend, while you’re out mailing limerick cards and singing limerick carols and visiting the nuclear power plant in Limerick, PA, take a moment to ponder the storied history of this simple but profound method of expressing life’s truths.

Posted by Rick Chillot

Game-of-Thrones-ify Your Name with the Power of Palaeography!

That’s Miss Dragon Girl to you, pal.


Admit it: you wish your name were more interesting. A rose by any other name might smell as sweet, but a Daenerys just wouldn’t sound as awesome if she were a Dana (no offense, of course, to the Danas of the world—I’m sure you’re all lovely people).

Westerosians get names full of weird letters and strange spellings, but we normals are saddled with names that are…kinda boring. Luckily, English has a vast, rich, and totally weird history of being spelled completely differently, once upon a time. Forget your first pet’s name or the name of the street where you grew up—all you need to spiff up your moniker are a few forgotten graphemes. Swap out the appropriate sounds in your name for their ancient equivalent and you’ll be mistaken for an Enya album in no time.

Posted by Blair Thornburgh

Five Fabulous Museums Dedicated To Books

The Rosenbach Museum on Bloomsday

Who doesn’t love a good museum? In Philadelphia, where Quirk is located, we have a ton of ’em. Rocky even ran up the steps of one. We’re also proud to be the home of the Rosenbach Museum and Library, an incredible place full of rare texts. And that’s not the only museum that’s all books all the time. Here are some more.

Rosenbach Museum (Philadelphia, PA): The Rosenbach Museum and Library was founded in 1954 and is home to the collections of Philip Rosenbach and his younger brother A. S. W. Rosenbach. The museum currently boasts an exhibit on the illustrations of Maurice Sendak, offering a glimpse at three picture books by the Wild Things artist. Beginning May 30th, the museum will display an exhibit titled “Who Owns Ulysses? Joyce and Copyright.” If you can’t make it out to Philadelphia, the Rosenbach’s website alone is worth a visit. Past exhibits on Abe Lincoln, the Civil War, and the history of neckwear are archived and can be explored virtually.

Folger Shakespeare Library (Washington, DC): Founded in 1932, the Folger Shakespeare Library is a world-class research center and prides itself in being the premiere center for Shakespeare studies outside of England. The library is also home to the Folger Theatre, producing three plays a year.

An exhibit titled “Shakespeare’s Sisters: Voices of English and European Women Writers 1500-1700” is currently on display as part of the museum’s celebration of women writers. Visitors can also view one of Shakespeare’s First Folios, which is permanently on display. The Folger owns 82 copies of the First Folio, approximately one-third of those believed to still be in existence.

Posted by Danielle Mohlman

Signing Their Lives Away: A Revolutionary Road Trip, Shooting Short Films in South Carolina

Middleton’s gift shop had this outdoor display featuring our book! Thanks guys!

How Southern Gothic can you get? The road to Middleton Place Plantation, just outside Charleston, South Carolina, is lined with live oaks dripping with Spanish moss. When you turn your car into the drive of the plantation, you behold a landscape the way it looked around the birth of the United States.

In recent months, my co-author Denise Kiernan and I have been driving up and down the east coast visiting historic sites associated with the signers of America’s founding documents. It’s our way of promoting our existing Quirk book, Signing Their Lives Away, about the men who signed the Declaration of Independence, and Signing Their Rights Away, about the Constitution signers, which pubs Sept 6.

When we have some free time, we’ve been working on a documentary about these sites. So far, in the state of South Carolina, we’ve created a short film about Middleton Place, Hopsewee Plantation, and the Governor’s House Inn in downtown Charleston. All three of these homes were residences of signers of the Declaration of Independence.

We think the videos have turned out pretty well, and we’re anxious to move on to other states.

Posted by Joseph D'Agnese

The Scientist & the Sociopath: Joseph D’Agnese Releases 99 Cent eBook

Joseph D'Agnese, co-author of the Indiana Jones Handbook, 24: The Official CTU Operations Manual, Signing Their Lives Away and the upcoming Signing Their Rights Away (due out in September), recently decided to try an experiment in self-publishing, releasing a collection of his best non-fiction science journalism in an eBook.

Entitled The Scientist and the Sociopath, this best-of collection features a number of pieces featured previously in places like Discover, Wired and Seed. From profiling the guy who conceived the Big Bang Theory (but watched someone else get the Nobel Prize for it) to hanging out with scientists investigating flying snakes, there's plenty of true, undeniably quirky stories here

You can download a copy for the ridiculous price of 99 cents for the Kindle and Nook. Get it.

Posted by Eric Smith