Today’s guest of honour is – drum rolls, please – Professor Bookworm the umpteenth!
Professor Bookworm the umpteenth has studied the phenomenon of writers, writing, and reading ever since his early youth – as did his ancestors before him. His family’s works and achievements alone could easily fill the Royal Albert Hall. He has agreed to spend some valuable minutes of his life to answer some vital questions.
Professor Bookworm, thank you very much for agreeing to answer some very important questions!
When did your family start to collect knowledge about writers, writing, and reading?
Our activities started in the fourth century in Rome, Italy. A major part of our family stayed in Italy, others travelled around the world to gather knowledge.
Why did so many of you stay in Rome?
The Popes and their staff were great collectors. Despite that, the Biblioteca Vaticana was established no earlier than 1451.
When was the first writer active?
The first writer was a caveman – or perhaps his partner. Cave-paintings were the first ‘books’. The cavemen told their tale of hunting and of the weather. They also had – and still have – readers. This is how you humans and we bookworms know so much about their time.
Later generations scratched and engraved symbols and/or hieroglyphics in stone. Their contemporaries read it and understood. Throughout the centuries, knowledge about hieroglyphics was lost, and human researchers had to learn the symbols again.
Are you implying that your species never lost the knowledge about these symbols and/or hieroglyphics?
Indeed. We bookworms always knew. Nobody cared to ask us, though. *casts down his eyes disappointed*
Those humans who ‘wrote’ were presumably not the writers in the sense of authors?
Exactly. The authors told their story and their specially educated assistants had to write their wise words down. Unless the texts were secret, these writers had to read the texts out loud to an audience as for several centuries not every human had learned how to read.
Then there was the revolutionary Johannes Gutenberg…
Johannes Gutenberg was born 1395, in Mainz, Germany. He started experimenting with printing by 1438 (http://www.gutenberg.de/english/erfindun.htm). He obtained backing in 1450 from the financier Johann Fust, whose impatience and other factors led to Gutenberg’s loss of his establishment to Fust in 1455. Gutenberg’s masterpiece, and the first book ever printed from movable type, is the “Forty-Two-Line” Bible, completed no later than 1455. He died in 1468. Yes, he was a good man. Before him, the Chines already knew the principle of movable characters (http://www.gutenberg.de/english/erfindu2.htm), though.
And the evolution of the printing process did not stop there.
Yes, you humans are really lucky. For a while you wrote on these dangerous typewriters, today, you write on your computers, do no longer use tasty paper. It is a shame… *shakes his head disappointed*
On the other hand, thanks to the many touch-screens everywhere, we can once again gather our information without help by third parties. *smiles proudly*
Writers – what is the prerequisite to become a writer?
The answer you certainly expect is: She or he just starts writing. It is not as easy, however. In order to become a writer, everyone needs to be a reader, first. Only if you read, you will be able to write something that is at least a bit worth reading. The more you have read – the better you will write.
What can you tell us about books, Professor Bookworm the umpteenth?
Ah, books. Our love and appreciation for books runs in the family. *smiles broadly*
Who would have guessed…
Books need to be cherished. Sometimes we even act as muses for writers. Whenever an author like Carlos Ruiz Zafón or Walter Moers writes about libraries – who knows. *grins mischievously*
And you know what is best?! For every book there is at least one reader who can relate! Isn’t this wonderful! *sighs happily*
What do you think of the readers?
Readers, they are truly remarkable. They are so alike, and yet so different. The readers I like the most handle their books with care, tend to read them more than once, talk about these books, write about them, review them. This is how it should be! There are even readers who start writing – as in writing books! They are just wonderful! *rocks enthusiastically*
What is your best recommendation for young readers and/or writers?
Read, dear girls and boys! There are fantastic books for all of you! Let your imagination wander, and learn, learn, learn!
And write, dear girls and boys! There are so many awesome stories not yet told!
And please, dear humans – keep in mind: we bookworms need a special diet of paper. *grins mischievously*
Professor Bookworm the umpteenth – thank you so much for providing these essential insights!