George RR Martin Shares How His Pet Turtles Inspired Him to Write

Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images
Frederick M. Brown, Getty Images

Acclaimed author George RR Martin's talent is undeniable. His A Song of Ice and Fire book series led to Game of Thrones, arguably HBO's most popular show of all time. While his wildly imaginative tales have made him one of the world's most popular authors, what inspired him to create these worlds is pretty surprising. In a recent interview with Stephen Colbert, Martin explained how the pet turtles he had as a child led him to The Iron Throne.

“I love turtles, my writing career began with turtles,” Martin told the host of The Late Show With Stephen Colbert when asked about the turtle brooch he was wearing.

“I lived in Bayonne, New Jersey, in a federal housing project," Martin continued. "We were not allowed to have dogs. We were not allowed to have cats. So the only pets I was allowed to have were turtles, little dime store turtles. I had a toy castle. I could fit two turtle bowls in the castle. But the thing is about those little dime store turtles is they die very soon.”

“I fed them the turtle food, I thought I was doing everything right," Martin explained. "I couldn’t figure out why they would die. It certainly wasn’t my fault. I decided they were competing for the turtle throne. They were competing for who would be the turtle king. That was my first fantasy: Turtle Castle. It preceded Game of Thrones by many years.”

Game of Thrones: Turtle Castle kind of has a nice ring to it ... but A Song of Ice and Fire was definitely a better choice.

A 17th-Century Book With a Hidden Compartment for Poison Is Selling for $11,000

Abebooks
Abebooks

Most rare books are noteworthy for their illustrations or prose. But there's something different hiding between the covers of a folio currently for sale for $11,000 on AbeBooks: The book acts as a miniature apothecary cabinet with spaces for storing jars of poison.

The secret storage box masquerading as a manuscript was likely assembled sometime in the 19th century, Atlas Obscura reports. It uses the leather binding of Sebastião Barradas's Opera omnia, vol. III—a theology text from the mid-17th century—as its shell. Two hundred years or so after the original book was published, someone pasted together the pages and hollowed them out to make room for a discreet apothecary lab. A shelf holds four glass bottles measuring 10 centimeters high. Tiny drawers are labeled with the names of poisonous plants—such as hemlock, foxglove, and Devil's snare—in German, suggesting the book safe was crafted in Germany. On the inside of the front cover, a memento mori illustration depicts two skeletons above the Latin Bible quote "Statutum est hominibus semel mori," which means, "All men are destined to die once."

The Vienna-based antique bookseller INLIBRIS is selling the oddity through Abebooks. The sellers don't know the full backstory of the object, but they suspect it's not as dark as the skulls and poison labels suggest. Rather than being an authentic lab used by a poisoner, the book was likely made as a gag item.

The book may have been intended as a hoax, but that doesn't mean it can't be used as hidden storage today—ideally for something other than poison. Curio collectors can purchase the item for $10,924.51.

Book with secret compartment.
Abebooks

Secret compartment with bottles in book.
Abebooks

[h/t Atlas Obscura]

Daniel Radcliffe’s Original Harry Potter Glasses Are Hitting the Auction Block

© 2001 - Warner Bros. - All Rights Reserved
© 2001 - Warner Bros. - All Rights Reserved

Having trouble reading your spell books and A History of Hogwarts? Maybe all you need is a pair of original Harry Potter glasses. If you’re a diehard Potterhead, you can now buy one of the first pairs that Daniel Radcliffe himself wore on the set of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001).

The glasses are on auction on EwbankAuctions.com, but you might want to check your vault in Gringotts before you decide to put a bid down, because the movie prop is going for about £3000 to £5000 (around $3800 to $6300).

The description for the glasses is as follows:

Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (2001) - Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter, a pair of silver metal wire frame glasses. Round clear lenses, bordered in black matte finish, silver metal earpieces tipped with transparent plastic. Left frame arm inscribed 'FRAME MADE IN ENGLAND' and right earpiece numbered '40 20 135'. These glasses are one of only a small number of pairs produced for the film. This is one of the first pairs of glasses Daniel Radcliffe wore as Harry Potter.

Judging by the photo provided, the glasses look to be in spectacular condition, and come in a black eyeglass case.

The auction site is also offering up other props from the Harry Potter films, such as Hagrid’s bird house from Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002), a song sheet used by the students in the Great Hall at Hogwarts from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, and even one of the many sealed Hogwarts acceptance envelopes that were sent to Harry's home in the first film.

Whoever the lucky winners of these bidding wars are, they’ll get to have special pieces of the Harry Potter films that no one else has. So be careful of any envious friends who might perform a Confundus Charm on you.

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