Booklicious: Dead and on YouTube: Classic Writers Captured on Film

July 19, 2011


As a reader whose favorite authors are almost all dead and have been since I started reading their work, I'm resigned to the fact that I'll never be able to meet these writers at a book signing or gawk at their unflattering paparazzi candids on TMZ. What hadn't crossed my mind, though, was that some of them lived long enough to make it onto film, and that gawking was indeed still possible. But YouTube is incredible, and if you search long enough you can find some amazing stuff. I've rounded up a few of the most entertaining/mind-blowing/fascinating clips out there -– enjoy.

LEO TOLSTOY : It boggles the mind to think video footage exists of Leo Tolstoy – the man died in 1910. Almost equally incredible is that this footage depicts the legendary writer as we know him best, old and with a gloriously bushy white beard – yet he's vigorously sawing a log like a 30 year old. The entire thing is just surreal.

MARK TWAIN : Steady your jaws; this is said to be the only existing footage of Mark Twain – it was shot by none other than Thomas Edison. In 1909. Doesn't he look adorably gruff? Maybe he's miffed because Edison didn't film his good side. 

SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE : This is one of my favorite videos. As a fellow Scot, I was certainly aware - and immensely proud - of the fact that my country can claim the creator of Sherlock Holmes as one of its own, but even so, it came as a little shock to hear that beautiful burr coming out his mouth. He really has a lovely voice, and seems like he would have been a lovely person. The interview is immensely interesting, also - he discusses how he created the character and the books, which basically consisted of him thinking, "today's detective novels suck; let's do this crap properly," and finding inspiration from a badass professor he had during his college days. Skip to 3:38 to hear him talk about the crazy fan mail he gets from people who think Holmes is a real person. It's wild.

F. SCOTT FITZGERALD : If you're a Zelda fan, this footage will thrill you to your toes - she smiles, she laughs, she looks at the camera! There's no dialogue, but the clip features the animated pair - and a rambunctious dog - looking true to form and dressed in Breton striped sweaters that wouldn't look out of place today.

IAN FLEMING : This quick interview with Ian Fleming is brilliant. In it he talks about how he settled on "James Bond" for 007's name - and I guarantee (unless you already know) you'll be astonished at its origins. 

GEORGE BERNARD SHAW : Talk about a collision of genius in this video. This snippet captures Shaw giving a speech at a dinner held in honor of none other than Albert Einstein. The golden-tongued playwright does not disappoint.


Mark Ross said... @ July 19, 2011 at 4:43 PM

Conan Doyle DID NOT write SHE. That was H.Rider Haggard.

Mark Ross

Evangeline said... @ July 19, 2011 at 5:53 PM

Mark, I assume you're referring to the cut-off title at the top of the video - if you'd clicked on the video you'd have seen that the whole thing says "Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Creator of Sherlock Holmes Rare."

katzenjammer said... @ July 29, 2011 at 9:45 AM

I thought it was fascinating to listen to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle expound on his belief in and study of psychic phenomenon, seances and mediums.

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