On This Day, September 16

On, September 16, 1620, the Mayflower sails from Plymouth, England, bound for the New World with 102 passengers. The ship was headed for Virginia, where the colonists–half religious dissenters and half entrepreneurs–had been authorized to settle by the British crown. However, stormy weather and navigational errors forced the Mayflower off course, and on November 21 the “Pilgrims” reached Massachusetts, where they founded the first permanent European settlement in New England in late December. Follow the Pilgrims at the library.


John Knowles, American novelist best known for A Separate Peace (1959), was born in Fairmount West Virginia on September 16, 1926.  A Separate Peace was first published in London by Secker and Warburg in 1959, and then in New York in 1960 by Macmillan   The novel is based upon Knowles’s experiences at Phillips Exeter Academy. The setting of “The Devon School” is a thinly veiled fictionalization of it, with both campus and town easily recognizable. Although the plot is not autobiographical, elements of the novel stem from personal experience, including Knowles’ membership in a secret society, and sustaining of a foot injury while jumping from a tree during society exercises. In his essay, “A Special Time, A Special Place,” Knowles wrote: “The only elements in A Separate Peace which were not in that summer were anger, violence, and hatred. There was only friendship, athleticism, and loyalty.”  Find A Separate Peace at the library.

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