Thomas B. Costain, in full Thomas Bertram Costain, (born May 8, 1885, Brantford, Ontario, Canada--died October 8, 1965, New York, New York, U.S.), Canadian-born American historical novelist.A journalist for many years on Canadian newspapers and a Saturday Evening Post editor (1920-34), Costain was 57 when he published his first romance, For My Great Folly (1942), dealing with the 17th-century rivalry between England and Spain. An immediate success, it was followed almost yearly by historical adventure tales, the best known of which are The Black Rose (1945), whose medieval English hero..
Bronson Howard, in full Bronson Crocker Howard, (born October 7, 1842, Detroit, Michigan, U.S.--died August 4, 1908, Avon, New Jersey), American journalist, author of successful comedies and dramas about life in the United States and founder-president of the first society for playwrights in the United States.A newspaper writer in Detroit and New York, Howard had his first success with Saratoga, produced in 1870 by Augustin Daly at a time when dramas of American life written by Americans were practically nonexistent; its success encouraged other native playwrights. The Henrietta (1887),..
Henry Cuyler Bunner, (born Aug. 3, 1855, Oswego, N.Y., U.S.--died May 11, 1896, Nutley, N.J.), poet, novelist, and editor whose verse and fiction primarily depict the scenes and people of New York City.Educated in New York City, Bunner served on the staff of the Arcadian, at 22 becoming assistant editor and later editor of Puck until his death. He developed Puck from a new, struggling comic weekly into a powerful social and political organ. Bunner's fiction, particularly "Made in France"; French Tales Retold with a United States Twist (1893), reflects the influence of Guy de Maupassant and other..
L. Ron Hubbard, in full Lafayette Ronald Hubbard, (born March 13, 1911, Tilden, Nebraska, U.S.--died January 24, 1986, San Luis Obispo, California), American novelist and founder of the Church of Scientology.Hubbard grew up in Helena, Montana, and studied at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. In the 1930s and '40s he published short stories and novels in a variety of genres, including horror and science fiction. After serving in the navy in World War II, he published Dianetics (1950), which detailed his theories of the human mind. He eventually moved away from Dianetics' focus..
Harold Frederic, (born Aug. 19, 1856, Utica, N.Y., U.S.--died Oct. 19, 1898, Henley-on-Thames, Oxfordshire, Eng.), American journalist, foreign correspondent, and author of several historical novels.Interested at an early age in photography and journalism, Frederic became a reporter and by 1882 was editor of the Albany Evening Journal. In 1884 he went to London as the correspondent for The New York Times. He remained there for the rest of his life. In 1884 he made a hazardous tour investigating outbreaks of cholera in southern France and Italy. In 1891 he visited Russia to investigate the..
Richard Hovey, (born May 4, 1864, Normal, Ill., U.S.--died Feb. 24, 1900, New York City), U.S. poet, translator, and dramatist.After graduating from Dartmouth in 1885, Hovey studied art and theology and in 1887 met Bliss Carman, the poet, with whom he later collaborated. Hovey lectured on aesthetics at the Farmington School of Philosophy and, for the last two years of his life, at Columbia University, where he held a post as professor of English at Barnard College. A self-conscious individual, he tried, in clothing and mannerisms, to be an American Oscar Wilde. His works consistently reflect..
Edward Eggleston, (born Dec. 10, 1837, Vevay, Ind., U.S.--died Sept. 4, 1902, Lake George, N.Y.), clergyman, novelist, and historian who realistically portrayed various sections of the U.S. in such books as The Hoosier School-Master.By the age of 19, Eggleston had become an itinerant preacher, but circuit riding broke his health. He held various pastorates, serving from 1874 to 1879 in Brooklyn; he was an editor of the juvenile paper, Little Corporal (1866-67), the National Sunday School Teacher (1867-73), and other periodicals.In all of his work he sought to write with "photographic exactness"..
H.P. Lovecraft, in full Howard Phillips Lovecraft, (born August 20, 1890, Providence, Rhode Island, U.S.--died March 15, 1937, Providence), American author of fantastic and macabre short novels and stories, one of the 20th-century masters of the Gothic tale of terror.Lovecraft was interested in science from childhood, but lifelong poor health prevented him from attending college. He made his living as a ghostwriter and rewrite man and spent most of his life in seclusion and poverty. His fame as a writer increased after his death.From 1923 on, most of Lovecraft's short stories appeared in..
Irving Bacheller, in full Irving Addison Bacheller, (born September 26, 1859, Pierpont, New York, U.S.--died February 24, 1950, White Plains, New York), journalist and novelist whose books, generally set in upper New York state, are humorous and full of penetrating character delineations, especially of rural types.Bacheller graduated from St. Lawrence University, Canton, New York, in 1882 and entered journalism. In 1883 in Brooklyn, New York, he founded the first modern newspaper syndicate and through its services distributed fiction by such writers as Joseph Conrad, Rudyard Kipling,..
Adeline Dutton Train Whitney, nee Adeline Dutton Train, (born Sept. 15, 1824, Boston, Mass., U.S.--died March 21, 1906, Milton, Mass.), American writer whose books, largely for young people, reflected her belief that the home was the ultimate key to virtue.Adeline Train was the daughter of a prosperous merchant. In 1843 she married Seth D. Whitney, a merchant more than 20 years her senior. She began writing for publication in the late 1850s. Her poems and articles became regular features in local Massachusetts newspapers, and in 1859 she published her first book, Mother Goose for Grown Folks,..
William Vaughn Moody, (born July 8, 1869, Spencer, Ind., U.S.--died Oct. 17, 1910, Colorado Springs, Colo.), American poet and playwright whose mystical and dignified work was considered a sign of unfulfilled promise upon his early death.After he graduated from Harvard University (1893), Moody was an instructor of English at Harvard and then at the University of Chicago. Though he was considered an inspiring teacher, Moody disliked his job; he spent several years of his university association working elsewhere on the Cambridge edition of the works of John Milton. The publication in 1902..
Catharine Maria Sedgwick, (born Dec. 28, 1789, Stockbridge, Mass., U.S.--died July 31, 1867, West Roxbury [now in Boston], Mass.), early American writer whose internationally popular fiction was part of the first authentically native strain of American literature.Sedgwick was a daughter of Theodore Sedgwick, lawyer, congressman, and later senator and judge of the state Supreme Court. She became a Unitarian and a devoted follower of William Ellery Channing and, at the urging of her brother Theodore, undertook to write a tract on the bigotry of orthodox Calvinism. By the time of its anonymous..
Donald Grant Mitchell, pseudonym Ik Marvel, (born April 12, 1822, Norwich, Conn., U.S.--died Dec. 15, 1908), American farmer and writer known for nostalgic, sentimental books on American life, especially Reveries of a Bachelor (1850).Mitchell graduated from Yale in 1841 and then returned home to farm his ancestral land. In 1844 he was appointed clerk to the U.S. consul at Liverpool, but poor health forced him to resign. Once back in America in 1846, he wrote newspaper articles for the Morning Courier and New York Enquirer under the pseudonym Ik Marvel, also editing Lorgnette (1850), a satirical..
Sidney Howard, in full Sidney Coe Howard, (born June 26, 1891, Oakland, California, U.S.--died August 23, 1939, Tyringham, Massachusetts), American playwright who helped to bring psychological as well as theatrical realism to the American stage.Howard graduated from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1915 and studied under George Pierce Baker at his Harvard Workshop 47. In World War I Howard served with the American ambulance corps and later was a captain in the U.S. Air Corps. He was on the editorial staff of the humour magazine Life in 1919-22 and in 1923 was a feature writer for William..
Elizabeth Payson Prentiss, nee Elizabeth Payson, (born October 26, 1818, Portland, Maine, U.S.--died August 13, 1878, Dorset, Vermont), American writer of popular children's books of a pious and homely character.Elizabeth Payson was the daughter of a well-known minister and revivalist. At age 19 she opened a short-lived school, but ill health made it difficult for her to establish herself. In 1845 she married the Reverend George L. Prentiss.From an early age Elizabeth Prentiss had been interested in writing, and as early as 1834 she had published a piece in Youth's Companion. In the early..
Jean Webster, original name Alice Jane Chandler Webster, (born July 24, 1876, Fredonia, N.Y., U.S.--died June 11, 1916, New York, N.Y.), American writer who is best remembered for her fiction best-seller Daddy-Long-Legs, which was also successful in stage and motion picture adaptations.Webster adopted the name Jean while attending the Lady Jane Grey School in Binghamton, New York. In 1901 she graduated from Vassar College, Poughkeepsie, New York, where she was a classmate and close friend of the poet Adelaide Crapsey. Webster, who was a grandniece of Mark Twain, showed an early interest..
Samuel Griswold Goodrich, (born Aug. 19, 1793, Ridgefield, Conn., U.S.--died May 9, 1860, New York City), American publisher and author of children's books under the pseudonym of Peter Parley.Largely self-educated, Goodrich became a bookseller and publisher at Hartford and later in Boston. There, beginning in 1828, he published for 15 years an illustrated annual, the Token, to which he was a frequent contributor both in prose and verse. The Token contained some of the earliest work of Nathaniel Hawthorne and Henry W. Longfellow. Goodrich published Peter Parley's Magazine (1832-44) and..
Percy MacKaye, (born March 16, 1875, New York City, New York, U.S.--died August 31, 1956, Cornish, New Hampshire), American poet and playwright whose use of historical and contemporary folk literature furthered the development of the pageant in the U.S.MacKaye was introduced to the theatre at an early age by his father, actor Steele MacKaye, with whom he first collaborated. Graduating from Harvard University in 1897, he studied abroad for two years and returned to the United States to write and lecture. In 1912 he published The Civic Theatre, in which he advocated amateur community theatricals...
Mary Noailles Murfree, pseudonym Charles Egbert Craddock , (born Jan. 24, 1850, near Murfreesboro, Tenn., U.S.--died July 31, 1922, Murfreesboro), American writer in the local-colour movement, most of whose stories present the narrow, stern life of the Tennessee mountaineers who were left behind in the advance of civilization.Mary Murfree studied at Chegaray Institute, a French school in Philadelphia, in 1867-69. With the failure of her father's business in 1869 the family returned to their native Murfreesboro, Tennessee (which was named in 1811 for her great-grandfather). There Murfree..
Joaquin Miller, pseudonym of Cincinnatus Hiner Miller, Hiner also spelled Heine, (born Sept. 8, 1837, near Liberty, Ind., U.S.--died Feb. 17, 1913, Oakland, Calif.), American poet and journalist whose best work conveys a sense of the majesty and excitement of the Old West. His best-known poem is "Columbus" with its refrain, "On, sail on!"--once familiar to millions of American schoolchildren.Miller went west with his family and led a picaresque early life in California among miners, gamblers, and Indians. He attended Columbia College (Eugene, Ore.) briefly in 1858-59 and was admitted..
Charles W. Chesnutt, in full Charles Waddell Chesnutt, (born June 20, 1858, Cleveland, Ohio, U.S.--died Nov. 15, 1932, Cleveland), first important black American novelist.Chesnutt was the son of free blacks who had left their native city of Fayetteville, N.C., prior to the American Civil War. Following the war his parents moved back to Fayetteville, where Chesnutt completed his education and began teaching. He was named assistant principal (1877-80) and then principal (1880-83) of State Colored Normal School (now Fayetteville State University), but he became so distressed about the..
Hugh Henry Brackenridge, (born 1748, Kintyre, near Campbeltown, Argyll, Scot.--died June 25, 1816, Carlisle, Pa., U.S.), American author of the first novel portraying frontier life in the United States after the Revolutionary War, Modern Chivalry (1792-1805; final revision 1819).At five Brackenridge was taken by his impoverished family from Scotland to a farm in York county in Pennsylvania. After a local minister taught him Latin and Greek, he became a teacher and worked his way through the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University), receiving his B.A. in 1771. For the commencement..
E.Z.C. Judson, in full Edward Zane Carroll Judson, pseudonym Ned Buntline, (born March 20, 1823, Stamford, New York, U.S.--died July 16, 1886, Stamford), American adventurer and writer, an originator of the so-called dime novels that were popular during the late 19th century.Judson's earlier stories were based on the exploits of his own picaresque career, which began as a cabin boy in the U.S. Navy. He rose to the rating of midshipman but in 1844 left the Navy, reputedly to serve in the Seminole War and travel in the West. He contributed stories to the Knickerbocker Magazine and in 1844 established..
Paul Laurence Dunbar, (born June 27, 1872, Dayton, Ohio, U.S.--died Feb. 9, 1906, Dayton), U.S. author whose reputation rests upon his verse and short stories written in black dialect. He was the first black writer in the U.S. to make a concerted attempt to live by his writings and one of the first to attain national prominence.Both of Dunbar's parents were former slaves; his father escaped to freedom in Canada and then returned to the U.S. to fight in the Civil War. The young Dunbar was the only black student in his Dayton high school, where he was the popular editor of the school paper. He published..
James Kirke Paulding, (born Aug. 22, 1778, Dutchess county, N.Y., U.S.--died April 6, 1860, Hyde Park, N.Y.), dramatist, novelist, and public official chiefly remembered for his early advocacy and use of native American material in literature.At 18 he went to New York City, where he formed a lasting friendship with the Irving brothers. This association aroused his enthusiasm for literature, and he, with William and Washington Irving, founded the Salmagundi (1807-08), a periodical consisting mainly of light satires on local subjects. The outbreak of hostilities between England and America..
Alain Locke, in full Alain LeRoy Locke, (born September 13, 1885, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.--died June 9, 1954, New York City), American educator, writer, and philosopher, best remembered as the leader and chief interpreter of the Harlem Renaissance.Locke graduated in philosophy from Harvard University in 1907. He was the first black Rhodes scholar, studying at Oxford (1907-10) and the University of Berlin (1910-11). He received a Ph.D. in philosophy from Harvard in 1918. For almost 40 years, until retirement in 1953 as head of the department of philosophy, Locke taught at Howard..
Josephine Preston Peabody, (born May 30, 1874, Brooklyn, N.Y., U.S.--died Dec. 4, 1922, Cambridge, Mass.), American writer of verse dramas and of poetry that ranged from precise, ethereal verse to works of social concern.Peabody grew up in Brooklyn until 1884, when the death of her father and the consequent poverty of her family forced them to move to the home of her maternal grandmother in Dorchester, Massachusetts. Peabody had absorbed her parents' love of literature and the theatre, and she read and wrote constantly. Her first published work was a poem that appeared in The Woman's Journal..
Erskine Caldwell, (born Dec. 17, 1903, Coweta County, Ga., U.S.--died April 11, 1987, Paradise Valley, Ariz.), American author whose unadorned novels and stories about the rural poor of the American South mix violence and sex in grotesque tragicomedy. His works achieved a worldwide readership and were particularly esteemed in France and the Soviet Union.Caldwell's father was a home missionary who moved frequently from church to church in the clay hills of central Georgia. While accompanying his father, Caldwell acquired a deep familiarity with the mentality and dialect of the impoverished..
Anna Cora Mowatt, nee Anna Cora Ogden, (born March 5, 1819, Bordeaux, France--died July 21, 1870, London, Eng.), American playwright and actress, best known as the author of the satirical play Fashion.Born in France to American parents, Anna Ogden moved to New York City with her family when she was seven. As a child she exhibited a talent for acting and a precocious interest in Shakespeare, all of whose plays she read before she was 10. In 1834, at the age of 15, she married James Mowatt, a lawyer several years her senior. She published her first book under the pen name "Isabel." It was a verse romance..
Jessie Ann Benton Fremont, nee Jessie Ann Benton, (born May 31, 1824, near Lexington, Va., U.S.--died Dec. 27, 1902, Los Angeles, Calif.), American writer whose literary career arose largely from her writings in connection with her husband's career and adventures and from the eventful life she led with him.Jessie Benton was the daughter of Senator Thomas Hart Benton of Missouri. She was well educated, mainly privately, and was notably independent and spirited. In 1840 she met Lieutenant John C. Fremont, a young officer in the Topographical Corps, and in 1841, over her father's strong opposition,..
H.L. Mencken, in full Henry Louis Mencken, (born September 12, 1880, Baltimore, Maryland, U.S.--died January 29, 1956, Baltimore), controversialist, humorous journalist, and pungent critic of American life who powerfully influenced U.S. fiction through the 1920s. Mencken attended a Baltimore private school and the Baltimore Polytechnic. He became a reporter for the Baltimore Morning Herald in 1899 and in 1906 joined the staff of the Baltimore Sun, where he worked at intervals throughout most of his life. From 1914 to 1923 he coedited (with George Jean Nathan) The Smart Set, a witty, urban..
Dorothy West, (born June 2, 1907, Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.--died August 16, 1998, Boston), American writer who explored the aspirations and conflicts of middle-class African Americans in many of her works and was one of the last surviving members of the prominent group of black artists, writers, and musicians who flourished in New York City's Harlem district during the Harlem Renaissance.West began writing when she was 7 years old, and when she was 14 her stories began to be published in the Boston Post. In 1926 her short story "The Typewriter" won a prize in a national competition held by..
Zitkala-Sa, (Lakota: "Red Bird")birth name Gertrude Simmons, married name Gertrude Bonnin, (born February 22, 1876, Yankton Sioux Agency, South Dakota, U.S.--died January 26, 1938, Washington, D.C.), writer and reformer who strove to expand opportunities for Native Americans and to safeguard their cultures.Gertrude Simmons was the daughter of a Yankton Sioux mother and a Euro-American father. She adopted the name Zitkala-Sa in her teens. When she was eight, she was sent to White's Manual Labor Institute, a Quaker missionary school in Wabash, Indiana. At age 19, against her family's..
William S. Burroughs, in full William Seward Burroughs, (born February 5, 1914, St. Louis, Missouri, U.S.--died August 2, 1997, Lawrence, Kansas), American writer of experimental novels that evoke, in deliberately erratic prose, a nightmarish, sometimes wildly humorous world. His sexual explicitness (he was an avowed and outspoken homosexual) and the frankness with which he dealt with his experiences as a drug addict won him a following among writers of the Beat movement.Burroughs was the grandson of the inventor of the Burroughs adding machine and grew up in St. Louis in comfortable circumstances,..
Edna St. Vincent Millay, (born February 22, 1892, Rockland, Maine, U.S.--died October 19, 1950, Austerlitz, New York), American poet and dramatist who came to personify romantic rebellion and bravado in the 1920s.Millay was reared in Camden, Maine, by her divorced mother, who recognized and encouraged her talent in writing poetry. Her first published poem appeared in the St. Nicholas Magazine for children in October 1906. She remained at home after her graduation from high school in 1909, and in four years she published five more poems in St. Nicholas. Her first acclaim came when "Renascence"..
George R.R. Martin, in full George Raymond Richard Martin, original name George Raymond Martin, (born September 20, 1948, Bayonne, New Jersey, U.S.), American writer of fantasy, best known for his Song of Ice and Fire series (1996- ), a bloody saga about various factions vying for control of a fictional kingdom.Martin attended Northwestern University and graduated with bachelor's (1970) and master's (1971) degrees in journalism. He had been an aficionado of science fiction and fantasy literature since childhood, and he sold his first short story in 1971. Having received conscientious..
Stephen Crane, (born Nov. 1, 1871, Newark, N.J., U.S.--died June 5, 1900, Badenweiler, Baden, Ger.), American novelist, poet, and short-story writer, best known for his novels Maggie: A Girl of the Streets (1893) and The Red Badge of Courage (1895) and the short stories "The Open Boat," "The Bride Comes to Yellow Sky," and "The Blue Hotel."Stephen's father, Jonathan Crane, was a Methodist minister who died in 1880, leaving Stephen, the youngest of 14 children, to be reared by his devout, strong-minded mother. After attending preparatory school at the Claverack College (1888-90), Crane spent..
William Humphrey, American writer who featured small-town Texan family life in his works; his first and best-known novel, Home from the Hill, was published in 1957 and filmed in 1960 (b. June 18, 1924--d. Aug. 20, 1997).
Anne Colquhoun Sayre, American writer whose book Rosalind Franklin and DNA (1975) helped reveal sexism in the scientific community and led to the acknowledgment of Franklin's contribution to the discovery of the structure of DNA (b. April 10, 1923, Milwaukee, Wis.--d. March 13, 1998, Bridgewater, N.J.).
Walter Sorell, Austrian-born American writer who was the author of more than 25 books, including The Dance Through the Ages (1967) and Dance in Its Time (1981); contributed to a number of dance publications; and taught theatre and dance history at several colleges and universities (b. May 2, 1905--d. Feb. 21, 1997).
Allen Stuart Drury, American journalist and writer whose first and most famous novel, Advise and Consent (1959), won a Pulitzer Prize and became a Broadway play in 1960 and a motion picture in 1962; he wrote 19 additional novels and 5 nonfiction books (b. Sept. 2, 1918, Houston, Texas--d. Sept. 2, 1998, San Francisco, Calif.).
Michael Anthony Dorris, American writer whose best-known book, the 1989 National Book Award-winning The Broken Cord, chronicled the struggle his adopted son faced as a result of fetal alcohol syndrome; suffering from chronic depression, separated from his wife, writer Louise Erdrich, and facing legal difficulties, Dorris took his own life (b. Jan 30, 1945--found dead April 11, 1997).
Zena Karras Bailey Sutherland, American writer and book critic (born Sept. 17, 1915, Winthrop, Mass.--died June 12, 2002, Chicago, Ill.), reviewed thousands of titles during her service as the editor of The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books from 1958 to 1985 and, through her support for books that reflected the realities of children's lives, came to be considered the most powerful and influential assessor of children's literature in the U.S. She also reviewed for the Saturday Review (1966-72) and the Chicago Tribune (1972-84), served on important committees, and wrote and edited..
Janet Lewis, American writer and poet who produced short stories, children's books, such novels as The Wife of Martin Guerre (1941) and the libretto of the opera based on it (1956), and the librettos of four other operas in addition to hundreds of poems, her final collection of which, The Dear Past (1994), contained works covering most of the 20th century; with her husband, poet and critic Yvor Winters, she shared an interest in nature, a concern for Native Americans, and participation in a number of liberal causes (b. Aug. 17, 1899, Chicago, Ill.--d. Dec. 1, 1998, Los Altos, Calif.)...
John Fante, (born April 8, 1909, Denver, Colo., U.S. --died May 8, 1983, Woodland Hills, Calif.), U.S. writer. Born to Italian immigrant parents, Fante moved to Los Angeles in the early 1930s. His first novel, Wait Until Spring, Bandini (1938), was followed by his best-known book, Ask the Dust (1939), the first of his novels set in Depression-era California. Other books included the story collection Dago Red (1940) and the novels Full of Life (1952) and Brotherhood of the Grape (1977). He also wrote numerous screenplays, including Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954), Full of Life (1956), and..
Whitney Lyon Balliett, American writer (born April 17, 1926, New York, N.Y.--died Feb. 1, 2007, New York City), became the most influential of all jazz critics by describing the music and its musicians with vivid, sensual metaphors. During 1957-2001 The New Yorker published more than 550 articles by him, most notably his concert and record reviews and interviews. He was a musical adviser for the historic 1957 CBS-TV special The Sound of Jazz, and he collected his articles in a series of books, beginning with The Sound of Surprise (1959) and including American Singers (1979) and American Musicians..
Opie Read, (born Dec. 22, 1852, Nashville, Tenn., U.S.--died Nov. 2, 1939, Chicago, Ill.), American journalist, humorist, novelist, and lecturer. Read specialized in the homespun humour of life in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Arkansas; Southern colonels, blacks, and drunken printers are frequently found in his writing.Inspired by Benjamin Franklin's autobiography, Read became a printer, reporter, and editor, ultimately editing the Little Rock, Ark., Gazette (1878-81) and the Arkansas Traveler (1882), a weekly humour and literary journal, which he moved to Chicago in 1887. His books..
Catherine Bowen, nee Catherine Shober Drinker, (born January 1, 1897, Haverford, Pennsylvania, U.S.--died November 1, 1973, Haverford), American historical biographer known for her partly fictionalized biographies. After attending the Peabody Institute and the Juilliard School of Music, she became interested in writing. Not surprisingly, her earliest works were inspired by the lives of musicians.Her biography of the Elizabethan jurist Sir Edward Coke, The Lion and The Throne (1957), won her the National Book Award in 1958. Her many other books include Beloved Friend (1937), about..
Gregory Christopher Mcdonald, American writer (born Feb. 15, 1937, Shrewsbury, Mass.--died Sept. 7, 2008, Pulaski, Tenn.), was celebrated for his series of fast-paced humorous mystery novels starring the iconoclastic investigator Irwin Fletcher; the first two books of the series, Fletch (1974) and Confess, Fletch (1976), won the Mystery Writers of America's Edgar Allan Poe Award, and two movies were based on the character, Fletch (1985) and Fletch Lives (1989). Mcdonald produced 25 novels, including the 11-volume Fletch series and the 4 novels featuring police investigator Francis..
E.W. Howe, in full Edgar Watson Howe, (born May 3, 1853, Treaty, Ind., U.S.--died Oct. 3, 1937, Atchison, Kan.), American editor, novelist, and essayist known for his iconoclasm and pessimism.Howe went to work at age seven on his father's homestead near Bethany, Mo. An apprentice printer at 12, he worked at the trade in Missouri, Iowa, Nebraska, and Utah (1867-72). At 19 he was publisher of the Golden (Colo.) Globe and in 1877 founded the Atchison (Kan.) Daily Globe, made famous by frequent reprinting of his paragraphs throughout the United States. His first and most successful novel, The Story..
Hillary Baldwin Waugh, American writer (born June 22, 1920, New Haven, Conn.--died Dec. 8, 2008, Torrington, Conn.), was a prolific writer of crime novels who was especially noted for his detailed descriptions of police investigative techniques; his 1952 novel Last Seen Wearing... was regarded as a classic in the police procedural genre, and in 1995 the book was included on the Mystery Writers of America's list of the top 100 mystery novels of all time. The Mystery Writers of America also honoured him with a Grand Master Award in 1989. Waugh was the author of nearly 50 novels. His first, Madame..
Charles Monroe Sheldon, (born Feb. 26, 1857, Wellsville, N.Y., U.S.--died Feb. 24, 1946, Topeka, Kan.), American preacher and inspirational writer famous as the author of the best-selling novel In His Steps.Sheldon was educated at Brown University and Andover Theological Seminary. In 1889 he founded the Central Congregational Church in Topeka, Kan. He read series of his stories to his evening congregation; the stories proved popular when printed. The most successful series, In His Steps, concerned the inhabitants of a town who pledged themselves to live for a year as Jesus would live. First..
Lilian Jackson Braun, (Lilian Jackson Braun Bettinger), American writer (born June 20, 1913, Massachusetts--died June 4, 2011, Landrum, S.C.), delighted readers with her series of mystery novels that involved the capers of a pair of intrepid Siamese sleuths, Koko and Yum Yum, who assist their owner, Jim Qwilleran, in solving crimes. Braun's debut offering in the best-selling Cat Who series was The Cat Who Could Read Backwards (1966), and she produced (1967 and 1968) two other volumes in the series before abandoning the project owing to pressure to spice up her material with gore and violence...
Kate Simon, original name Kaila Grobsmith, (born Dec. 5, 1912, Warsaw, Pol.--died Feb. 4, 1990, New York, N.Y., U.S.), memoirist and travel writer whose work was noted for its readability and its wit.Simon's family immigrated to the United States in 1917 and settled in New York, first in Harlem and then in the Bronx. Simon graduated from Hunter College of the City University of New York with a bachelor's degree in 1935 and later held various editorial positions, including jobs at Publisher's Weekly and The New Republic. Her first book was New York Places and Pleasures, a guidebook published in..
Gwendolyn Bennett, (born July 8, 1902, Giddings, Texas, U.S.--died May 30, 1981, Reading, Pa.), African-American poet, essayist, short-story writer, and artist who was a vital figure in the Harlem Renaissance.Bennett, the daughter of teachers, grew up on a Nevada Indian reservation and in Washington, D.C., and Brooklyn, N.Y. She attended Columbia University and Pratt Institute, then studied art in Paris (1925-26). She wrote articles and created covers for The Crisis and Opportunity magazines. Her close friendships with fellow Harlem-based writers resulted in her becoming an Opportunity..
Walter van Tilburg Clark, (born Aug. 3, 1909, East Orland, Maine, U.S.--died Nov. 10, 1971, Reno, Nev.), American novelist and short-story writer whose works, set in the American West, used the familiar regional materials of the cowboy and frontier to explore philosophical issues.Clark grew up in Reno, which forms the background for his novel The City of Trembling Leaves (1945), the story of a sensitive adolescent boy's development. His best-known work is The Ox-Bow Incident (1940). The story of a lynching in 1885 of three innocent men, it conveys a powerful and dramatic insight into mob psychology...
Maria Louise Pool, (born Aug. 20, 1841, Rockland, Mass., U.S.--died May 19, 1898, Rockland), American writer whose sketches were well received in the period when the so-called local colour movement in American literature was just beginning.Pool attended public schools in her hometown of Rockland and for a time was herself a schoolteacher. By the age of 20 she had begun to publish stories in various magazines. She also wrote for a Philadelphia newspaper and, during her residence in Brooklyn, New York (1870-77), for the New York Tribune and the Evening Post. Her sketches focused on New England..
Frederick Barthelme, (born Oct. 10, 1943, Houston, Texas, U.S.), American writer of short stories and novels featuring characters who are shaped by the impersonal suburban environments in which they live.Brother of writer Donald Barthelme, Frederick attended Tulane University, the University of Houston, and Johns Hopkins University, where he received his M.A. (1977). Rangoon, a collection of his surreal short fiction, drawings, and photographs, was published in 1970. This was soon followed by his novel War & War (1971). With the short stories of Moon Deluxe (1983), written in the..
Brander Matthews, (born Feb. 21, 1852, New Orleans--died March 31, 1929, New York City), essayist, drama critic, novelist, and first U.S. professor of dramatic literature.Educated at Columbia University, Matthews was admitted to the bar but never practiced, turning instead to writing and the study of literature. He was professor of literature at Columbia, 1892-1900, and of dramatic literature, 1900-24. A prominent figure in New York literary groups, he was the founder of both the Authors' and Players' clubs. Matthews was the author of many short stories and critical essays, was a regular..
DuBose Heyward, in full Edwin Dubose Heyward, (born Aug. 31, 1885, Charleston, S.C., U.S.--died June 16, 1940, Tryon, N.C.), American novelist, dramatist, and poet whose first novel, Porgy (1925), was the basis for a highly successful play, an opera, and a motion picture.At the age of 17 Heyward worked on the waterfront, where he observed the black Americans who were to become the subject of his writing. Heyward first wrote poems: Carolina Chansons (1922), a joint publication with Hervey Allen; Skylines and Horizons (1924); and Jasbo Brown and Selected Poems (1931). Porgy was set in Catfish..
Richard Bissell, in full Richard Pike Bissell, (born June 27, 1913, Dubuque, Iowa, U.S.--died May 4, 1977, Dubuque), American novelist and playwright whose works provide fresh and witty images of Middle Western speech and folkways.Bissell grew up in Dubuque, attended Phillips Exeter Academy, and graduated from Harvard in 1936. From his experiences as a mate and then a pilot on the Mississippi, Ohio, and Monongahela rivers came the novels A Stretch on the River (1950) and The Monongahela (1952). His first really successful novel was 71/2 Cents (1953; British title A Gross of Pyjamas), based..
Thomas Michael Disch, American science-fiction writer and poet (born Feb. 2, 1940, Des Moines, Iowa--died July 4, 2008, New York, N.Y.), authored works of scathing social commentary and dark humour, including consciously literary "New Wave" science fiction (which he preferred to call "speculative" fiction), poetry, criticism, opera librettos, and plays. His best-known science-fiction novels--Camp Concentration (1968), 334 (1972), and On Wings of Song (1979)--are distinguished by their dark themes and biting satire. In The Dreams Our Stuff Is Made Of: How Science Fiction Conquered..
Hannah Webster Foster, nee Hannah Webster, (born Sept. 10, 1758, Salisbury, Mass. [U.S.]--died April 17, 1840, Montreal, Que., Can.), American novelist whose single successful novel, though highly sentimental, broke with some of the conventions of its time and type.Hannah Webster received the genteel education prescribed for young girls of that day. In April 1785 she married the Reverend John Foster, a Unitarian minister. In 1797, signing herself merely "A Lady of Massachusetts," she published The Coquette; or, The History of Eliza Wharton, a highly sentimental novel that enjoyed much..
Thomas Dixon, (born Jan. 11, 1864, Shelby, N.C., U.S.--died April 3, 1946, Raleigh, N.C.), U.S. novelist, dramatist, and legislator who vigorously propagated ideas of white supremacy. He is chiefly remembered for his novel The Clansman (1905), which presented a sympathetic picture of the Ku Klux Klan. Dixon's friend, D.W. Griffith, used the novel as the basis for the epic film The Birth of a Nation (1915).After taking a degree from Greensboro (N.C.) Law School, Dixon was admitted to the bar in 1886. He spent a year as a member of the North Carolina legislature but resigned to become a Baptist minister,..
Bernard De Voto, in full Bernard Augustine De Voto, (born January 11, 1897, Ogden, Utah, U.S.--died November 13, 1955, New York, New York), American novelist, journalist, historian, and critic, best known for his works on American literature and the history of the Western frontier.After attending the University of Utah and Harvard University (B.A., 1920), De Voto taught at Northwestern University (1922-27) and Harvard (1929-36) before becoming editor of the Saturday Review of Literature. After two years he resigned and returned to Cambridge, Mass., where he lived for the rest of his life...
John D. MacDonald, in full John Dann MacDonald, (born July 24, 1916, Sharon, Pa., U.S.--died Dec. 28, 1986, Milwaukee, Wis.), American fiction writer whose mystery and science-fiction works were published in more than 70 books. He is best remembered for his series of 21 crime novels featuring private investigator Travis McGee.After MacDonald graduated from Syracuse (New York) University (B.S., 1938) and Harvard Graduate School of Business (M.B.A., 1939), he served in World War II in the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the forerunner of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). He began..
Elizabeth Madox Roberts, (born Oct. 30, 1886, Perryville, Ky., U.S.--died March 13, 1941, Orlando, Fla.), Southern American novelist, poet, and short story writer noted especially for her vivid, impressionistic depiction of her protagonists' inner life and for her accurate portrayal of life in Kentucky.Educated in schools in Springfield, a village near her birthplace, Roberts taught school from 1900 to 1910. After 1910 she stayed for a time in Colorado, where the first of her verses were published. In 1917 she enrolled in the University of Chicago. Much encouraged in her writing, Roberts..
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Mary Boykin Miller Chesnut, (born March 31, 1823, Pleasant Hill, S.C., U.S.--died Nov. 22, 1886, Camden, S.C.), author of A Diary from Dixie, an insightful view of Southern life and leadership during the American Civil War.Mary Miller was the daughter of a prominent South Carolina politician and grew up in an atmosphere of public service. She attended private schools in Camden and Charleston. In 1840 she married James Chesnut, Jr., who later served as a U.S. senator from South Carolina until he resigned to take an important role in the secession movement and the Confederacy.Her husband was a..
Leon Forrest, (born Jan. 8, 1937, Chicago, Ill., U.S.--died Nov. 6, 1997, Evanston, Ill.), African-American author of large, inventive novels that fuse myth, history, legend, and contemporary realism.Forrest attended the University of Chicago and served in the U.S. Army before beginning his career as a writer. From 1965 to 1973 Forrest worked as a journalist for various papers, including the Nation of Islam's weekly Muhammed Speaks. He also published excerpts from his first novel, There Iis a Tree More Ancient than Eden, which was issued in book form in 1973, the year he began teaching English..
Anne Douglas Sedgwick, (born March 28, 1873, Englewood, N.J., U.S.--died July 19, 1935, Hampstead, Eng.), expatriate American writer whose best-selling fiction observed European and American cultural differences.Sedgwick lived from the age of nine in London, where her father had business connections. In 1898 a novel she had written for private amusement was, through her father's efforts, published in London as The Dull Miss Archinard. The success of that book led her to produce in rapid order The Confounding of Camelia (1899), The Rescue (1902), Paths of Judgment (1904), The Shadow of..
John Rechy, in full John Francisco Rechy, (born March 10, 1934, El Paso, Texas, U.S.), American novelist whose semiautobiographical works explore the worlds of sexual and social outsiders and occasionally draw on his Mexican American heritage.A graduate of Texas Western College, Rechy also studied at the New School for Social Research in New York, New York. He taught creative writing at Occidental College, the University of Southern California, and the University of California, Los Angeles.In City of Night (1963), his first and best-received novel, a young man working as a homosexual hustler..
Constance Fenimore Woolson, (born March 5, 1840, Claremont, N.H., U.S.--died Jan. 24, 1894, Venice, Italy), American writer whose stories and novels are particularly notable for the sense of place they evoke.Woolson, a grandniece of James Fenimore Cooper, grew up in Cleveland, Ohio. During the Civil War she engaged in hospital work. After her father's death in 1869, Woolson accompanied her mother on travels through the East and South, and in 1870 she began submitting travel sketches and stories to Harper's, Putnam's, Lippincott's, Atlantic Monthly, and other magazines. Castle Nowhere:..
Edward Stratemeyer, (born Oct. 4, 1862, Elizabeth, N.J., U.S.--died May 10, 1930, Newark, N.J.), American writer of popular juvenile fiction, whose Stratemeyer Literary Syndicate (1906-84) produced such books as the Rover Boys series, the Hardy Boys series, the Tom Swift series, the Bobbsey Twins series, and the Nancy Drew series.Stratemeyer worked as a store clerk and, on the side, began writing stories in imitation of those of Horatio Alger and popular adventure writers, selling his first magazine story in 1888. In the following decade he became editor of Good News (1893-95), for which..
Wallace Henry Thurman, (born Aug. 16, 1902, Salt Lake City, Utah, U.S.--died Dec. 22, 1934, New York, N.Y.), African-American editor, critic, novelist, and playwright associated with the Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s.Thurman studied at the University of Utah and the University of Southern California, although he did not receive a degree. He moved to Harlem in 1925, and by the time he became managing editor of the black periodical Messenger in 1926, he had immersed himself in the Harlem literary scene and encouraged such writers as Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston to contribute to his..
Paul Monette, (born October 16, 1945, Lawrence, Massachusetts, U.S.--died February 10, 1995, Los Angeles, California), American author and poet whose work often explored homosexual relationships and the devastating effects of the AIDS epidemic. He was best known for his autobiographies, Borrowed Time: An AIDS Memoir (1988) and Becoming a Man: Half a Life Story (1992).After graduating from Yale University (B.A., 1967), Monette taught English at several institutions before publishing his first poetry collection, The Carpenter at the Asylum, in 1975. It was followed three years later..
Frederic Prokosch, (born May 17, 1908, Madison, Wis., U.S.--died June 6, 1989, Plan-de-Grasse, France), American writer who became famous for his early novels and whose literary stature subsequently rose as his fame declined.The precocious son of a respected linguist-philologist and a concert pianist, Prokosch spent his childhood in the United States, Germany, France, and Austria. By the age of 18 he had received an M.A. degree from Haverford (Pennsylvania) College (1926); he received a Ph.D. from Yale University (1933) and a second M.A. from the University of Cambridge (1937). Prokosch's..
Frances Miriam Berry Whitcher, nee Frances Miriam Berry, (born Nov. 1, 1811, Whitesboro, N.Y., U.S.--died Jan. 4, 1852, Whitesboro), American writer whose popular satirical sketches lampooned small-town pomposities and intolerance.Miriam Berry early displayed marked talents for writing (usually satiric verses and humorous sketches) and for drawing caricatures, but her gifts were little appreciated in her childhood. Her first published story, "The Widow Spriggins," appeared in a Rome, New York, newspaper after she had read it to a local literary society. It was a broad burlesque of..
George Cram Cook, (born Oct. 7, 1873, Davenport, Iowa, U.S.--died Jan. 14, 1924, Delphi, Greece), novelist, poet, and playwright who, with his wife, Susan Glaspell (q.v.), established the Provincetown Players in 1915, which gave a forward thrust to the U.S. theatre.After completing his B.A. degree at Harvard in 1893, he studied at Heidelberg in 1894 and the Universite de Geneve the following year. He then taught English literature at the University of Iowa (1895-99) and at Stanford University, Stanford, Calif. (1902). Cook left the academic world to support his literary work as a small farmer,..
John William DeForest, (born May 31, 1826, Humphreysville, Conn., U.S.--died July 17, 1906, New Haven, Conn.), American writer of realistic fiction, author of a major novel of the American Civil War--Miss Ravenel's Conversion from Secession to Loyalty (1867).The son of a prosperous cotton manufacturer, DeForest did not go to college, owing to poor health, but traveled (1848-49) in the Middle East. He returned home to write a scholarly History of the Indians in Connecticut (1851) before setting out for Europe, where he lived from 1851 to 1854, reading widely in continental literature, particularly..
Judith Sargent Stevens Murray, nee Judith Sargent, (born May 1, 1751, Gloucester, Mass. [U.S.]--died July 6, 1820, Natchez, Miss., U.S.), American writer during the early republic, remembered largely for her essays and journalistic comment on contemporary public issues, especially women's rights.Judith Sargent was the daughter of a wealthy shipowner and merchant and received an unusually good education for a girl of her time. In 1769 she married John Stevens, a sea captain. She began writing in the 1770s, at first writing verse but soon turning to essay form, as the intellectual ferment..
E.B. White, in full Elwyn Brooks White, (born July 11, 1899, Mount Vernon, New York, U.S.--died October 1, 1985, North Brooklin, Maine), American essayist, author, and literary stylist, whose eloquent, unaffected prose appealed to readers of all ages.White graduated from Cornell University in Ithaca, New York, in 1921 and worked as a reporter and freelance writer before joining The New Yorker magazine as a writer and contributing editor in 1927. He married Katherine Sergeant Angell, The New Yorker's first fiction editor, in 1929, and he remained with the weekly magazine for the rest of his..
Katharine Elizabeth Fullerton Gerould, nee Katharine Elizabeth Fullerton, (born Feb. 6, 1879, Brockton, Mass., U.S.--died July 27, 1944, Princeton, N.J.), American writer, noted for short stories that reveal her elevated sensibilities and fine craftsmanship.Katharine Fullerton was of staunchly New England lineage for many generations on either side. She was schooled privately in Boston and France, graduated from Radcliffe College in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1900, took a master's degree in 1901, and taught English and writing at Bryn Mawr (Pennsylvania) College from 1901 until..
Hortense Calisher, (born Dec. 20, 1911, New York, N.Y., U.S.--died Jan. 13, 2009, New York), American writer of novels, novellas, and short stories, known for the elegant style and insightful rendering of characters in her often semiautobiographical short fiction, much of which was published originally in The New Yorker.The daughter of an uprooted Southern father and a German immigrant mother, Calisher had a middle-class upbringing in New York City. She graduated from Barnard College in 1932 and later taught there as an adjunct professor of English.Her short-story collections In the Absence..
Rudolph Fisher, in full Rudolph John Chauncey Fisher, (born May 9, 1897, Washington, D.C., U.S.--died Dec. 26, 1934, New York, N.Y.), American short-story writer and novelist associated with the Harlem Renaissance whose fiction realistically depicted black urban life in the North, primarily Harlem.Fisher was raised chiefly in Providence, R.I., where he received B.A. and M.A. degrees from Brown University. He attended medical school at Howard University in Washington, D.C., graduating in 1924. He had begun placing fiction in prominent magazines such as the Atlantic Monthly by 1925,..
Kristin Hunter Lattany, in full Kristin Elaine Hunter Lattany, nee Kristin Elaine Eggleston, (born September 12, 1931, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, U.S.--died November 14, 2008, Magnolia, New Jersey), American novelist who examined black life and race relations in the United States in both children's stories and works for adults.Lattany began writing for The Pittsburgh Courier, an important African American newspaper, when she was 14 and continued until the year after she graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1951 with a bachelor's degree in elementary education. She married..