Indebted to The Writer's Almanac last week for this information.
'Serendipity' was first used by parliament member and writer Horace Walpole in a letter that he wrote to an English friend who was spending time in Italy. In the letter to his friend written in 1754, Walpole wrote that he came up with the word after a fairy tale he once read, called 'The Three Princes of Serendip,' explaining, 'as their Highnesses travelled, they were always making discoveries, by accidents and sagacity, of things which they were not in quest of.' The three princes of Serendip hail from modern-day Sri Lanka. 'Serendip' is the Persian word for the island nation off the southern tip of India, Sri Lanka.'