The War of the Worlds — Relevant a Century Later

H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds has been, since its publication in 1898, one of fiction’s most lasting science-fiction stories. In 1938 a radio broadcast of the novel famously caused real-life panic. Multiple movie adaptations have brought the horror of the tripods into modern settings. And this year’s new BBC television series takes the story back to 1905, just a handful of years after the book’s first publication.

H.G. Wells' Martian fighting-machine

H.G. Wells’ Martian fighting-machine Mon, Oct 31, 1938 – Page 1 · Press and Sun-Bulletin (Binghamton, New York) · Newspapers.com

Setting this story in a time very like H.G. Wells’ own makes the technological superiority of the Martians all the more clear. It may also better emphasize the destruction of comfortable structure—a society of rules and customs—by a force that simply doesn’t care.

And yet the horror of The War of the Worlds transcends generations and even technology. Orson Welles, who directed and narrated the 1938 radio performance that made such a stir, expressed surprise at listeners’ reactions. He’d worried the story might seem “too old-fashioned.” But the frenzied fear of invasion that resulted just goes to show how pertinent such stories can remain decades—and centuries—later.

Orson Welles thought

Orson Welles thought “War of the Worlds” might appear “too old-fashioned for modern consumption” Mon, Oct 31, 1938 – 1 · The Huntsville Times (Huntsville, Alabama) · Newspapers.com

Perhaps the greatest reason for this was Wells’ emphasis on surrounding the fictional with the real. His stories were called “scientific romances,” an acknowledgement of the inspiration he found in scientifically-based speculation. He gave his aliens evolutionary traits, reasons for their existence and appearance, and even based their defeat on science we’ve witnessed in our own Earth-bound history. And among all this science was sprinkled a healthy dose of humanity, in which readers, listeners, and viewers see themselves and people they know.

Analysis of Wells' use of scientific and social inspiration in crafting realistic fiction

Analysis of Wells’ use of scientific and social inspiration in crafting realistic fiction Sat, Oct 27, 1962 – Page 19 · The Age (Melbourne, Victoria, Australia) · Newspapers.com

H.G. Wells had flaws too, which are reflected in his work. Women play little part in his stories, a fact he acknowledged in this contemporary interview, and that is remedied in the new BBC series. He held many troubling beliefs on race and religion. And as the article above states, some found and continue to find his endings too sentimental, and some plot points irrelevant. Nevertheless, H. G. Wells and his stories continue to fascinate and inspire more than a century later, which is perhaps the best review an author can hope for.

Find more clippings about H.G. Wells, The War of the Worlds and similar topics with a search on Newspapers.com.

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The Ghost of Clinton Avenue

From 1878 comes this real-life ghost story that even the skeptics couldn’t explain. With its ringing bells and rattling doors, this residence on Brooklyn’s Clinton Avenue became the talk of the town.

The Ghost of Clinton AvenueThe Ghost of Clinton Avenue Fri, Dec 20, 1878 – Page 1 · The Sun (New York, New York) · Newspapers.com


The residence’s owner, Mr. Smith, appeared to be a level-headed, logical sort of man. But when a skeptical reporter visited the house nearly a week later, as reported in the article below, Mr. Smith was too nervous to be interviewed and believed the disturbances to be the work of an evil spirit.

The Clinton Avenue Ghost follow up articleThe Clinton Avenue Ghost follow up article Thu, Dec 26, 1878 – 2 · St. Louis Globe-Democrat (St. Louis, Missouri) · Newspapers.com

Find more ghost stories like this in the pages of Newspapers.com.

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Nancy Drew and the Attempted Banishment

It’s a testament to the lasting power of Nancy Drew that yet another screen reincarnation of the beloved book sleuth is on her way. The character may be closing in on 100 years of existence, but many readers today still fondly remember following Nancy through many mysteries. Not all have loved Nancy Drew from the beginning. But she couldn’t be taken down, thanks in part to the teenage girls who channeled their heroine and saved the day.

Not Just Nancy Drew

In the early 1900s, a literary war was being waged on “nickel novels.” Mostly aimed at boy scouts, these novels were considered by librarians to be a “menace of mediocrity.” Rather more graphically, they were thought to “blow out, shoot to pieces, or burn out boy’s imaginations.” It was thought the average 10-year-old ought to turn their sights to higher literature.

Nancy Drew would not be published until 1930, but this was just the beginning of a controversy that would dog series books for decades to come.

Nickel Novel is Peril of Youth

Nickel Novel is Peril of Youth Wed, May 27, 1914 – Page 6 · The Washington Herald (Washington, District of Columbia) · Newspapers.com

Nancy Comes to Life

The instant popularity of Nancy Drew novels painted a target on the series’ back. By 1933 there were already ten titles to her name, and young girls loved them. But these .50 novels, considered successors to the nickel and dime novels, were still being fought against primarily by librarians. One even called them “devices of Satan.” This article from 1944 shows librarians left them out of the stacks because of too-similar plots and impossible situations:

Library doesn't carry Nancy Drew because of

Library doesn’t carry Nancy Drew because of “similarity in plot” & “impossible situations” 1944 Sat, Nov 18, 1944 – Page 12 · The Des Moines Register (Des Moines, Iowa) · Newspapers.com

The 60s saw another wave of parent and librarian disdain for the popular series, while readers continued to be infatuated with Nancy’s cleverness and moxie. When papers shared negative opinions about the “literary garbage” that was Nancy Drew, readers gave back as good as they got:

“Nancy Drew books are not rubbish” 1964 Thu, Feb 6, 1964 – 4 · Edmonton Journal (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada) · Newspapers.com

Teen defense of Nancy Drew series, 1959

Teen defense of Nancy Drew series, 1959 Sun, Feb 22, 1959 – 9 · Pensacola News Journal (Pensacola, Florida) · Newspapers.com

Group of High School Pupils Speak Out on

Group of High School Pupils Speak Out on “Series Books” Mon, Feb 1, 1965 – 8 · The Daily Herald (Provo, Utah) · Newspapers.com

The books were still removed from many libraries, but they could not be kept away from eager readers completely. In time the fervor of fans and changing attitudes toward literature would soften the fight for reform.

Nancy Drew making comeback following critical period

Nancy Drew making comeback following critical period Thu, Apr 8, 1976 – Page 27 · The Journal News (White Plains, New York) · Newspapers.com

Nancy Drew Endures

Ultimately, it’s hard to argue with the evidence of pure enjoyment, as this columnist found. Nancy Drew books got people reading; they were simply a good time. Decades have passed, times have changed, and now reading for fun is not so often considered a moral failing. In fact, Nancy has become a role model for many women across generations.

Nancy Drew an inspiration still in 1994

Nancy Drew an inspiration still in 1994 Sun, Apr 10, 1994 – Page 54 · Daily Record (Morristown, New Jersey) · Newspapers.com

There have been 5 feature films made about Nancy Drew, and October 9th’s new CW series will be the third attempt to bring Nancy to life on television. It just goes to show that 89 years has done little to dampen the love for literature’s favorite teenage sleuthing lass. Are you a fan?

Notice the Clues?

If you like solving puzzles and decoding clues, give this one a try to find a clipping of a real-life Nancy Drew situation on Newspapers.com:

1. Unscramble the bold letters in the “Not Just Nancy Drew” section for the month and date to search.

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

_ _

2. Unscramble the bold letters in the “Nancy Comes to Life” section for the year and the name of the paper. (Hint: each paragraph contains one word)

_ _ _ _

_ _ _ _ _ | _ _ _ _ _ _ | _ _ _ _

3. Unscramble the bold letters in the “Nancy Drew Endures” section for the Find/Search term to look for on Page 7. (Hint: each paragraph contains one word)

_ _ _ _ _ _ _ | _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

(Click here to skip the clues and go straight to the clipping.)

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Highclere Castle: The Real-Life Downton Abbey

This weekend’s release of the new Downton Abbey film will bring fans back to the sweeping grounds and grand halls of England’s Highclere Castle. This stunning edifice serves as the real-life setting of the fictional Crawley home. And if walls could talk, Highclere Castle would tell a few compelling stories of its own—especially about its best-known occupants: George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, and his wife, Almina.

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle, setting of TV series Downton Abbey

Highclere Castle, setting of TV series Downton Abbey Sat, Jan 19, 2013 – 44 · The Leader-Post (Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada) · Newspapers.com

Highclere was almost entirely rebuilt in 1842-1849 on the bones of an older house, which in turn was built on the foundations of a medieval palace. The castle, on it’s 5,000 acres of beautiful park-like land, serves as the country seat of the Earl of Carnarvon. Here George Herbert, 5th Earl of Carnarvon was born. Perhaps his birth was accompanied by the Highclere tradition where 500 gallons of beer are brewed to remain unopened until the heir “attains his majority. (The clipping below refers to the birth of George Herbert’s son, Henry Herbert.)

500 gallons of beer to celebrate the birth of an heir at Highclere Castle

500 gallons of beer to celebrate the birth of an heir at Highclere Castle Wed, Jun 28, 1899 – 3 · The South Bend Tribune (South Bend, Indiana) · Newspapers.com

Almina Herbert, Countess of Carnarvon

Lord Carnarvon married Almina Wombwell—the illegitimate daughter of millionaire Alfred de Rothschild—on June 26, 1895. Her connections left her with plenty of wealth, which would play a significant role throughout her life. Downton Abbey watchers may recognize Cora Crawley—an heiress who marries into a titled family—is loosely based on Almina. And the similarities don’t end there.

At the start of World War I, just as in the show, Highclere Castle was converted into a hospital.

Lady Almina's funds turned Highclere into a hospital

Lady Almina’s funds turned Highclere into a hospital Sun, Feb 3, 2013 – 59 · The Dispatch (Moline, Illinois) · Newspapers.com

But later wealth came, as it so often does, with scandal. In the mid-1920s, shortly after her husband’s death, Lady Carnarvon married a Colonel Dennistoun. Dennistoun’s ex-wife drew the wealthy Almina into a high-profile court case, demanding Dennistoun pay the alimony he owed her from their divorce. The case was splashed across papers for months, and every move Lady Carnarvon made was scrutinized (as seen by the clipping below). In the end, the jury ruled that no payment was required from the new couple.

Lady Carnarvon becomes the subject of speculation following the Dennistoun Case

Lady Carnarvon becomes the subject of speculation following the Dennistoun Case Sun, Jul 12, 1925 – 51 · The Semi-Weekly Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington) · Newspapers.com

George Herbert, Earl of Carnarvon

The most sensational story in this history is that of Lord Carnarvon. He was an avid Egyptologist who–with the help of his wife—funded the expedition that would discover Tut’s Tomb. Lord Carnarvon traveled to Egypt in late 1922. He was one of the first in modern times to see it opened, and to enter within.

Five months later he was dead, the victim of a bad mosquito bite gone wrong. But with his recent visit to Tutankhamen’s tomb on everyone’s minds (and with a little help from a certain superstitious author), the idea of a mummy’s curse entered popular culture. And Lord Carnarvon was its unfortunate poster child.

What Killed Carnarvon -- Tut-Ankh-Amen's Curse?

What Killed Carnarvon — Tut-Ankh-Amen’s Curse? Fri, Apr 20, 1923 – 2 · The Preston News (Preston, Kansas) · Newspapers.com

Lord Carnarvon himself may not be directly mirrored in any of the show’s characters, but his love of Egypt is. All of the fictional Lord Grantham’s four-legged companions have Egyptian names.

The history of Highclere Castle is, of course, much longer and more complicated than anything shared here. Perhaps the Downton Abbey film will provide further glimpses into the non-fictional past of its iconic castle backdrop and the real-life people who walked its halls.

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Nightmare Saves 200 Lives

Sometimes an imaginary nightmare can stop a terrible, real-life one from happening. Such was the case in this clipping from 1933.

Children's nightmare saves 200

Children’s Nightmare saves 200 Sun, Dec 24, 1933 – Page 3 · The Philadelphia Inquirer (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

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101 Years Young

In this story found across multiple papers in the early 1920s, 101 year old Janet Newbury shares the vanities, life experiences, and pastry perks that come with age.

Oldest Nurse, 101, Waiting To Become

Oldest Nurse, 101, Waiting To Become “More Mature” Tue, Oct 30, 1923 – Page 9 · Green Bay Press-Gazette (Green Bay, Wisconsin) · Newspapers.com

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Ethel Marks Arrested for “Masquerading in Male Attire”

Sometimes you just want to wear some trousers and have some fun. Alas, that didn’t work out too well for a woman named Ethel Marks in 1912:

Mrs. Ethel Marks arrested for

Mrs. Ethel Marks arrested for “masquerading in male attire” Mon, Dec 23, 1912 – Page 15 · The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, California) · Newspapers.com

One thing is for sure: she was from Missouri.

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Disney’s Aladdin: History & Trivia

Today marks the release of Disney’s newest take on Aladdin, an event that never would have happened without the success of its popular animated predecessor. In honor of the beloved original cartoon, here are five fun facts to mildly entertain your friends and family on the drive (or magic carpet ride) to the theater.

Disney's Aladdin

Disney’s Aladdin Wed, Nov 25, 1992 – 14 · The Daily Herald (Provo, Utah) · Newspapers.com

1. Aladdin’s character changed significantly during the writing process

Between the initial pitch and the film’s release, almost everything about Aladdin’s character completely changed. His age, his family situation, and even the choice of inspiration for his personality and looks shifted over the course of several years’ work.

Revisions included aging Aladdin up, writing his mother out of the film

Revisions included aging Aladdin up, writing his mother out of the film Wed, Nov 25, 1992 – 26 · The Indianapolis News (Indianapolis, Indiana) · Newspapers.com

Al’s lack of charisma and “on-screen” presence was a recurring problem in early versions. Between the self-assured Jasmine and the scene-stealing Genie, Aladdin had a hard time keeping up. Forunately, he went through several rewrites to make his character a stronger contender.

Early Aladdin drawings meant to resemble Michael J. Fox

Early Aladdin drawings meant to resemble Michael J. Fox Sun, Oct 10, 1993 – 35 · The Herald-News (Passaic, New Jersey) · Newspapers.com

Aladdin and Jasmine

Aladdin and Jasmine Fri, Nov 27, 1992 – 53 · The Ottawa Citizen (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) · Newspapers.com

2. Much of the story was based on the 1940 film, The Thief of Baghdad

The Arabian Nights story of Aladdin is a well-known source of inspiration for the movie we know and love today. But a fantasy film from the 40s about a scrappy young thief, a handsome king, and a (nameless) beautiful princess was also significant to the story. It even includes a deceitful adviser, Jaffar.

Aladdin heavily inspired by

Aladdin heavily inspired by “The Thief of Baghdad” Fri, Nov 27, 1992 – Page 78 · Northwest Herald (Woodstock, Illinois) · Newspapers.com

3. Artistic influences varied, from ancient art to modern caricature

It’s pretty fascinating to see what goes into a movie that, on the surface, can seem like little more than a children’s cartoon.

Inspiration for Agrabah

Inspiration for Agrabah Wed, Nov 25, 1992 – 14 · The Daily Herald (Provo, Utah) · Newspapers.com

Aladdin art influences

Aladdin art influences Sun, Nov 22, 1992 – 54 · Leader-Telegram (Eau Claire, Wisconsin) · Newspapers.com

And here’s a bit of fun trivia about the film’s use of color:

Use of color in Disney's Aladdin

Use of color in Disney’s Aladdin Wed, Nov 25, 1992 – 14 · The Daily Herald (Provo, Utah) · Newspapers.com

Aladdin and his magic lamp

Aladdin and his magic lamp Wed, Nov 25, 1992 – 26 · The Indianapolis News (Indianapolis, Indiana) · Newspapers.com

4. Robin Williams’ star power secured success (against his wishes)

The biggest controversy of the film’s history has to do with its most recognizable talent, Robin Williams. The role of Genie was not just perfect for Williams’ incredible versatility—it was specifically written for him.

Robin Williams Steals the Show (Aladdin)

Robin Williams Steals the Show Sun, Dec 6, 1992 – 20 · The Times Recorder (Zanesville, Ohio) · Newspapers.com

Robin Williams is the no-so-secret weapon of

Robin Williams is the no-so-secret weapon of “Aladdin” Fri, Nov 27, 1992 – 53 · The Ottawa Citizen (Ottawa, Ontario, Canada) · Newspapers.com

Williams was happy to take the part; he wanted to be involved in animation and help create something great for his children. Disney agreed to his one request: that they not to use his voice to sell merchandise or prominently feature his character for marketing. You can probably guess (or remember) how that went.

Robin Williams has public falling out with Disney

Robin Williams has public falling out with Disney Sun, Apr 14, 1996 – 21 · Santa Maria Times (Santa Maria, California) · Newspapers.com

All’s well that ends well. After a direct-to-video sequel (The Return of Jafar, 1994) and a change in Disney management, a public apology was made to Williams. The original Genie was back for Aladdin and the King of Thieves, and some Genie-led educational videos to boot.

5. Aladdin broke the record for animation

Shortly after its release, Aladdin surpassed Beauty and the Beast as the highest-grossing animated film. However, it would only hold that record for about two years before being smashed by 1994’s wildly successful The Lion King.

Aladdin becomes highest grossing animated film of all time

Aladdin becomes highest grossing animated film of all time Wed, Jan 27, 1993 – 25 · The Post-Star (Glens Falls, New York) · Newspapers.com

1992 New York Times Review of Aladdin calls it a

1992 New York Times Review of Aladdin calls it a “dizzying, elastic miracle” Sun, Nov 15, 1992 – 120 · The Odessa American (Odessa, Texas) · Newspapers.com

Do you have any fond memories of Aladdin, and are you planning to see the new adaptation? Tell us about it below! Try a search on Newspapers.com to find more on the movie, its influences, and its reception.

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Puffy the HypnoCat

Need a nap? Try taking a look into the “huge, unblinking eyes” of Puffy, King of all cats, for a bit of restful hypnotism.

Puffy Can Make People Cat Nap

Puffy Can Make People Cat Nap Mon, Apr 9, 1945 – 9 · Press and Sun-Bulletin (Binghamton, New York) · Newspapers.com

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Unusual Wedding Ceremonies

Wedding ceremonies bring with them a wide range of experiences. Mundane or magical, weird or wonderful, there’s a lot of pressure to make that knot-tying day something to remember. In the case of the clippings below, the happy couples made memories novel enough to earn a spot in the newspaper.

Married by Telegraph

Married by Telegraph Thu, Jun 8, 1876 – 1 · Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wisconsin) · Newspapers.com

Married at 124 Years

Married at 124 Years Fri, Nov 6, 1891 – Page 1 · Harrisburg Daily Independent (Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

Married in a Trolley Car

Married in a Trolley Car Fri, Jan 25, 1907 – Page 3 · Altoona Tribune (Altoona, Pennsylvania) · Newspapers.com

Wedding Ceremonies That Are Not Cut and Dried

Wedding Ceremonies That Are Not Cut and Dried Sun, Jan 30, 1910 – Page 16 · The Spokane Press (Spokane, Washington) · Newspapers.com

Marriage on Skis

Marriage on Skis Fri, May 27, 1910 – 5 · The Weekly Guard (Council Grove, Kansas) · Newspapers.com

Married by Telephone

Married by Telephone Wed, Nov 1, 1911 – 6 · The Lindsborg Record (Lindsborg, Kansas) · Newspapers.com

Wedding on Wheels

Wedding on Wheels Mon, Apr 10, 1950 – Page 3 · Asbury Park Press (Asbury Park, New Jersey) · Newspapers.com

This is just a few of the many clippings to find on this topic. Try a search on Newspapers.com for more.

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