From 11:00PM PDT on Friday, July 1 until 5:00AM PDT on Saturday, July 2, the Shmoop engineering elves will be making tweaks and improvements to the site. That means Shmoop will be unavailable for use during that time. Thanks for your patience!
A patron is a person with lots of dough who gives money to an author to write—a benevolent benefactor of sorts. This model of authorship (writing for a patron) was pretty popular before the 18th century, when aristocrats and royalty would support artists they liked, and when it was actually possible to survive in the real world by writing alone. Nowadays? Not so much.