Today in History
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  We know of 6 events of note in literature and the arts that occurred on January 22:
  • Our Town, Thornton Wilder's Pulitzer-winning play of small-town life in Grover's Corners, New Hampshire, was performed publicly for the first time on this day in 1938. Another mainstay of community theater in America, Arthur Miller's The Crucible premiered on this day in New York in 1953.
  • In literary circles, this is the red-letter day for the month, since in 1788 Lord Byron was born at his father's rooms on Halles Street in London's fashionable Mayfair section. His mother had ridden at Captain Byron's insistence from Aberdeen so that his son could be born on English soil. The poet's mother said that this prenatal coach ride accounted for her son's malformed leg. Another theory is that as a prudish Scottish lady she demanded that the attending physician use what was called a birthing tent, a black sheet that preserved the woman's modesty but made the doctor literally work in the dark. The nature of Byron's physical impairment has always been mysterious, because prosthetic devices for both legs were found after his death, none of them indicating malformation. So what probably happened is that deprivation of oxygen in those critical early moments led to motor dysfunction. In 1816 Lord Byron completes "Parisina" & "The Siege of Corinth"
  • Andrea del Sarto, Italian artist known to many because of Brownings's dramatic monologue about the compromising artist, died on this day in 1531.
  • English statesman and essayist Sir Francis Bacon, who wrote the Novum Organum, popularizing the inductive or scientific method, was born on this day in 1561. He died in 1626, a victim of scientific inquiry. Since he observed that cold foods lasted longer, he tried stuffing some dressed chickens with snow to see if that would retard spoilage. He caught a death of cold stuffing the white stuff in the hens. His reputation was tainted by charges of bribery. He is a candidate often advanced as the "real" writer of Shakespeare's plays.
  • The German man of letters Gotthold Lessing was born on this day in 1729. His most famous work is a play called Nathan der Weise, which extols the virtues of toleration and racial harmony.
  • The Swedish playwright August Strindberg was born on this day in 1849.