Death by pie, public domain images of fish, and Jane Austen’s hand-copied sheet music

Or, what I’m reading while The Eight-Year-Old’s on spring break this week.

Shakespeare’s 74 death scenes in a single play more gory than Game of Thrones (Telegraph)

Somehow I suspect "death by pie" isn't the slow moving deeply disquieting feeling you get after polishing off your sample platter of Thanksgiving apple, mincemeat, pecan, and pumpkin pies (a la mode, of course).

Somehow I suspect “death by pie” isn’t the slow moving, yet deeply disquieting overstuffed feeling you get after polishing off your sample platter of Thanksgiving apple, mincemeat, pecan, and pumpkin pies (a la mode, of course). Chart via

If you’re wondering about the logistical differences between killing off your characters by baking them into a pie or merely dismembering and then setting them on fire without the benefit of pie crust, wonder no more. Someone’s actually written a play about it. Or I suppose, more accurately, compiled a play about it. The Complete Deaths, which will be open at the Northampton Royal and Derngate Theatre in May 2016, includes all 74 death scenes written by Shakespeare in all of their gory glory. The performance, which will feature just four actors, comes complete with a desk of cards to help the audience track of the smotherings, suicides, stabbings, and ursine pursuits.

The New York Public Library Just Unleashed 180,000 Public Domain Images. We Can’t Stop Looking at Them (Mother Jones)

Rare Book Division, The New York Public Library. "Gumard, sapphirine, Trigla hirundo" New York Public Library Digital Collections.

Illustration of a “Gumard, sapphirine, Trigla hirundo” from E. Donovan’s 1802 The Natural History of British Fishes, including scientific and general descriptions of the most interesting species and an extensive collection of accurately finished colored plates taken entirely from original drawings, purposely made from specimens in a recent state, and for the most part whilst living.   (Book title fashions have really changed, haven’t they?)  Source: New York Public Library Digital Collections.

This treasure trove of images includes historical maps, botanical illustrations, images of 1930s New York City, the Green Book collection of travel guides for African-American travelers in the mid-1900s, and yes, hundreds of images of brightly painted fish. Images are free for download by the public, and there’s a visualization tool to help you find what you’re looking for. Handy for bloggers and historical fiction writers alike.

3 Pieces of Music Jane Austen Hand-Copied into Her Personal Collection (Mental Floss)

"Deck the halls" handcopied by Jane Austen (Austen House Museum)

“Deck the Halls” hand copied by Jane Austen (Austen House Museum)

I have a cabinet full of sheet music and songbooks ordered from Amazon. Jane Austen had a desk full of sheet music she had to hand-copy one painstaking note at a time. Austen’s collection is actually worth preserving.

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About Shala Howell

I spent two decades helping companies like Bell Labs, Juniper Networks, and a genetic testing company that was later acquired by CVS translate some of the world’s most complicated concepts into actionable, understandable English. Now I'm working on a much harder problem -- fostering children’s curiosity and engagement in the scientific, artistic, and linguistic world that surrounds them. The first book in my Caterpickles Parenting Series, What’s That, Mom?, focuses on how to use public art to nurture children’s curiosity in the world around them. My next book will focus on science, and how parents without a science degree can answer their curious child's questions without enrolling in a college level refresher course. In the meantime, you can find me blogging about life with a very curious Eleven-Year-Old at, chatting about books and the writing life at, and tweeting about books, writing, science, & things that make me smile at @shalahowell.
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