John Smith
Name the (1579-1631) Founder of Jamestown in 1607, he saved Pocahontas, daughter of Powhatan. Wrote A True Relation of Virginia and The General History of Virginia, New England, and the Summer Isles
William Bradford
Who was (1590-1657) Elected governor of Plymouth colony 30 times. Aided by Indians Squanto and Samoset. Tells about the Pequot War, the Mayflower, and the Pilgrims in Of Plymouth Plantation.
Anne Bradstreet
Who is the (1612-1672) First published American poet, she wrote poems “The Tenth Muse Lately Sprung Up In America.” “To My Dear and Lovely Husband Lately Upon Public Assistance”
Jonathan Edwards
Who was the (1703-1758) Puritan preacher of the Great Awakening. His famous sermon (where he compared sinners to spiders that God hangs over a pit of open flame) is “Sinners in the Hand of an Angry God.” (No news about where he ended up…Inferno or Paradiso)
Benjamin Franklin
Who was an (1706-1790) Inventor, writer, statesman, and on, and on . . . Wrote Autobiography, and as a young man Poor Richard’s Almanac, which was full of advice, and useful information. Some famous quotes from Poor Richard:
“Early to bed, early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
“In this world, nothing is certain but death and taxes.”
“Fish and visitors stink after three days.”
Patrick Henry
Who was the (1736-1799) Virginia legislator and advocate of suicide for rhetorical reasons: “Give me liberty or give me death!” Others: “If this be treason, make the most of it” and “Caesar had his Brutus, Charles I his Cromwell, and George III may profit by their example.”
Thomas Paine
Who was an (1737-1809) English-born pamphleteer. Famous titles include Common Sense, and The Crisis No. 1 (first of 16, “These are the times that try men’s souls.”)
Thomas Jefferson
Who (1743-1826) Died the same day as John Adams, owner and architect of Monticello (see the back of a nickel), and designer and founder of University of Virginia. Wrote the Declaration of Independence almost entirely by himself (“When in the course of human events….” “We hold these truths to be self evident…the rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”)
Phillis Wheatley
Who was a (1753-1784) Black poet. The first published black author, first published slave author, and the third woman published in America. Her collection was To His Excellency General Washington.
Washington Irving
Who is a (1793-1859) New Yorker who became the first famous American author. His pen name was Diedrich Knickerbocker (the last became synonymous with New York and is the full name of the Knicks NBA team). Most famous works are: Rip Van Winkle (title character who fell asleep in the Catskills for twenty years after bowling and partying with dwarves) and The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (school master Ichabod Crane is scared out of town by the Headless Horseman, likely Brom Bones in disguise because both he and Crane are after local hottie Katrina Van Tassel).
James Feinmore Cooper
Who was the (1789-1851) First American novelist, primarily of adventure stories starring Natty Bumpo. The series The Leatherstocking Tales were a collection of novels about Indians and settlers including The Deerslayer (Bumpo with Chingachgook) and The Last of the Mohicans (Uncas, Hawkeye, and Bumpo).
William Cullen Bryant
Who was (1794-1878) Called the father of American poetry. He wrote his most famous poem, “Thanatopsis.” when he was 17 years old (the title is from the Greek for a meditation on death). (Interesting, Pointless Knowledge: was first published at 4, wrote his first book of poetry at 12.)
Edgar Allen Poe
Who was a (1809-1849) Poet, short story writer, he practically invented the modern detective story. Became a drug addict and died in a gutter in Baltimore. Some of his most famous stories: “The Murders in the Rue Morgue” (the first detective story involving Detective Dupin and an orangutan), “The Fall of the House of Usher” (Roderick and Medeline Usher), “The Masque of the Red Death” (party turns deadly), “The Tell-Tale Heart” (it just keeps beating! Beating I say!), “The Pit and the Pendulum.” “The Cask of Amontillado.” “The Black Cat.” Some of his famous poems are “The Raven” (“Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered weak and weary…”; “Quoth the raven ‘Nevermore!'”) and “Annabel Lee.” (Interesting, Pointless Knowledge: NFL team the Baltimore Ravens is the only pro sports team named after a work of literature, this person’s poem.)
Ralph Waldo Emerson
Who was a (1803-1882) Essayist, poet, diarist. One of the most famous authors in America and England at the time. Would get paid to deliver lectures. Most famous essay is “Self Reliance” (title is self-explanatory, “To be great is to be misunderstood.” “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”) One of his most famous poems is “Concord Hymn” (“By the rude bridge that arched the flood, . . .here once the embattled farmer stood, and fired the shot heard round the world.”)
Henry David Thoreau
Who was a (1817-1862) Naturalist and essayist and handy-man. Spent two years living in the woods on Walden Pond outside Concord, MA and wrote about it in Walden (“If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.”; “The mass of men lead lives of quiet desperation.”). He wrote the essay “Civil Disobedience” about the right to peacefully disobey a government that you severely disagree with (he wrote it while in jail for not paying his taxes to a government that allowed slavery to be legal; when Emerson came to visit, he asked this person, “Why are you in jail?” He responded “Why are you not?”); this essay inspired many famous world leaders, including Ghandi and Martin Luther King.
Nathaniel Hawthorne
Who was (1804-1864) Born in Salem, MA, the descendant of the witch trials’ judge, a fact he felt guilty about: many stories and novels set in Puritan times. Novels include The Scarlet Letter (Hester Prynne commits adultery and gets a scarlet ‘A’ on her clothes; Arthur Dimmesdale, minister and adulterer; Roger Chillingsworth, Hester’s husband; Pearl, Hester’s daughter from the affair), The House of Seven Gables (about the cursed Pyncheon family). Some famous short stories: “The Young Goodman Brown.” “The Minister’s Black Veil.” “The Scar.”
Herman Melville
Who was a (1819-1891) Novelist and sailor. Most famous novel = Moby Dick, Captain Ahab’s obsessive quest for the albino whale of the title who took his leg; narrated by Ishmael (opens by saying “Call me Ishmael”); mates are Starbuck, Stubb, and Flask; harpooners are Queequeg, Tashtego, and Daggoo; Pip is the cabin boy; the ship’s the Pequod. Other novel Billy Budd, and the short story “Bartelby the Scrivener” (secretly lives in the office and says “I’d prefer not to” when asked to do anything other than work).
Frederick Douglass
Born a slave, this person escaped and settled in Connecticut where he became a well-educated abolitionist. His Autobiography is a masterpiece of slave narratives.
Harriet Beecher Stowe
Who wrote Uncle Tom’s Cabin (Tom and his master Simon Legree), the influential novel that helped sway opinion to end slavery. Lincoln said upon meeting her, “So you’re the little woman who started this big war.”
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Who was a (1807-1882) Poet who wrote:
“The Village Blacksmith”: “Under the spreading chestnut tree, the village smithy stands”
“Evangeline”: long narrative poem with “This is the forest primeval”
“The Song of Hiawatha”: “by the shores of Gitche Gumee [Lake Superior], by the shining big sea water, stood the wigwam of Nokomis, Daughter of the moon Nokomis…From the waterfall he named her, Minnehaha, laughing water”
“Paul Revere’s Ride”: “Listen my child and you shall hear, of the midnight ride of Paul Revere. On the eighteenth of April in seventy-five, Hardly a man is still alive who remembers that famous day and year”
John Greenleaf Whittier
Who was a (1807-1892) Famous Quaker poet of “Snowbound” “Barefoot Boy”
Oliver Wendell Holmes
Who was a (1809-1894) teacher, scientist, poet, Boston upper-class. Father of eventual Supreme Court Justice. Poems include “Old Ironsides” (a poem to save the USS Constitution) and “The Chambered Nautilus.”
Emily Dickinson
Who was (1830-1886) One of the most famous American poets, as much for her life as her poetry. Known as the Belle of Amherst, she wore all white, and after the Civil War, she rarely left her house. She only published 7 poems in her lifetime after the biggest idiot in American literary history, a professor at of Amherst College, told her that her poetry was not very good. Poems include “I Never Saw a Moor.” “I Taste a Liquor Never Brewed.” “I Heard a Fly Buzz When I Died.” “Because I Could Not Stop for Death” (“He kindly stopped for me.”), and “Snake.”
Walt Whitman
Who was a (1819-1892) Poet who celebrates nature and individualism. In his old age he wore a long, white beard. He was a nurse during the Civil War. Did little to hide that he was homosexual during his lifetime. His collection of poems, Leaves of Grass, was shocking because of its earthiness and its free verse. He revised it at least four more times throughout his life. Some famous poems: “Song of Myself” (“I celebrate myself, and sing myself”), “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d” (about Lincoln), and “O Captain! My Captain!” about Lincoln’s assassination (“O captain, my captain, our fearful trip is done…walk the deck my captain lies, fallen cold and dead.”).
Sidney Lanier
Who was a (1842-1881) Georgia poet (there is a lake named after him). “The Marshes of Glynn” (set in Glynn county on the coast), and “Song of the Chattahoochee” (“Out of the hills of Habersham, down the valleys of Hall”).
Mark Twain
Who was a (Real name is Samuel Langhorne Clemens, 1835-1910) Humorist, novelist, short story writer, prospector, newspaper man, riverboat captain, angry old man. Born and died when Haley’s Comet appeared. Raised in Hannibal, MO on Mississippi River. Pen name comes from riverboat cry of “by the mark, twain” meaning the river’s two fathoms deep. Selected works:
The Innocents Abroad (about travels to Europe and the holy land) “The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County” (short story about Daniel Webster, the famous jumping frog at a contest still held every year in California) The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (Tom, Aunt Polly, Huck Finn, a whitewashed fence, Becky Thatcher, and murderous Injun Joe) The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (most respected of his novels. Huck and escaped slave Jim hit the Mississippi) A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court (blacksmith goes back in time) The Prince and the Pauper.
Bret Harte
Who was a (1836-1902) Western writer, primarily about the California gold rush. Known for the stories “The Luck of Roaring Camp” and “The Outcasts of Poker Flat.”
Ambrose Bierce
Who was a (1842-1914?) satirical short story writer, often about war, violence, and death. Traveled to Mexico in 1914 and was never seen or heard from again. Known for his satirical dictionary The Devil’s Dictionary (“Egoist: a person of low taste—more interested in himself than in me”; “Academy: a modern school were football is taught”) and his short story “The Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge.”
Lew Wallace
Who was the (1827-1905) Territorial governor of New Mexico and retired Civil War general. Wrote Ben-Hur, one of the best selling novels of all time. Turned into a movie.
Stephen Crane
Who was a (1871-1900) Newspaper writer, novelist, and short story writer. Covered the war in Greece, died of tuberculosis. Wrote Maggie, A Girl of the Streets about the NYC slums. This was the first naturalistic novel, where life was portrayed in all its harshness. The Red Badge of Courage is his most famous, about Henry Fleming’s struggles in the Civil War. This person was shipwrecked on his way back from Cuba while covering the Spanish-American War, which inspired his short story “The Open Boat.”
Willa Cather
Who was a (1873-1947) Female novelist from Nebraska, who eventually settled in New Mexico. Her work is dominated by the landscape of the Great Plains in such novels as My Antonia, and O Pioneers. Death Comes for the Archbishop is set in New Mexico about the earliest days of settlement by the Catholic church there.
Jack London
Who was (1876-1916) Born in San Francisco [also given as birthplace of Robert Frost], he lived in Oakland before committing suicide. He was a writer, sailor, and gold seeker, famous for his stories harsh realism. The Call of the Wild (Buck the dog survives in the Yukon gold rush), The Sea Wolf (Humphrey Van Weyden is picked up by Wolf Larsen, captain of the Ghost), White Fang, and “To Build a Fire” (a nameless fool trying to survive the cold).
Frank Norris
Who was the Author of The Octopus, condemning the railroad industry. Sounds like he was Chuck Norris’s Brother (not really).
Theodore Dreiser
Who wrote An American Tragedy (poor Clyde Griffith’s failed attempts to make it), Sister Carrie.
Edith Wharton
Her novels looked at the dog-eat-dog world of upper class society at the turn of the century. Ethan Fromm (about Ethan, his wife Zenobia, and cousin Mattie), and The Age of Innocence (won the 1920 Pulitzer, attacked NY high society). Who was this person?
Edward Arlington Robinson
Who was this (1869-1935) Poet who won three Pulitzer Prizes. Poems often set in Tilbury Town. “Richard Cory” is his most famous poem, later turned into a song by Simon and Garfunkel (“And Richard Cory, one calm summer night, went home and put a bullet through his head.”)
Edgar Lee Masters
Who was the (1869-1950) Poet who focused on small town Midwestern life. Spoon River Anthology is a collection of narrative poems told from the point of view of residents of a small town. Based on this person’s own hometown, this earned him a lot of hate mail.
Paul Lawrence Dunbar
Who was (1872-1906) One of the first famous black poets since Wheately. He grew up in Ohio, was valedictorian of his high school class, and the only job he could get was as an elevator operator, which he took, writing between passengers. Famous for ” ” which contains the line “I know why the caged bird sings” taken by Maya Angelou for the title of her autobiography.
Joel Chandler Harris
Who lived in Eatonton, Georgia, [hometown of Alice Walker, too] writer and newspaperman famous for his collecting African-American folklore, which he used for his books Uncle Remus, His Songs and Sayings (Brer Rabbit) and The Tar Baby. His house Wren’s Nest is in Atlanta.
Sherwood Anderson
Who was the author of “Winesburg, Ohio”. He would sit at his desk by an open window day and night, summer or winter, using what he heard on the street to inspire him.
Ernest Hemingway
Who (1898-1961) Won Pulitzer Prize and Novel Prize before committing suicide. He is the supreme example of a man’s man, going on fishing and hunting trips, going on safari in Africa, boxing, bull-fighting, even submarine hunting. From Michigan, but known for living in Havana; Key West, FL; and Ketchum, ID. He had a short style, free of flourishes, a style he got from writing for a newspaper. The Sun Also Rises (about Lost Generation in Paris after WWI) A Farewell to Arms (based on his short experience in WWI) For Whom the Bell Tolls (about Spanish Civil War, title taken from Donne’s Meditation X) The Old Man and the Sea (among most famous, Santiago trying to land an enormous marlin; conceived while submarine hunting off Florida during WWII.) “The Snows of Kilimanjaro” (short story set during a safari)
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Who was the (1896-1940) Spokesman for the Jazz Age. Famous for parties with wife Zelda, had daughter Scotty. Was alcoholic, died of a heart attack while writing in for the movies in Hollywood. Novels include The Great Gatsby (Gatsby loves Daisy, has her cousin Nick Carraway set them up, her husband Tom finds out), Tender is the Night (based on his relationship with Zelda), The Last Tycoon (set in Hollywood, unfinished since he died while working on it). (Interesting, Pointless Knowledge: the F is for Francis, since he is a direct descendant of Francis Scott Key, author of “The Star-Spangled Banner.”)
William Faulkner
Who was the (1897-1962) Nobel Prize winner from Oxford, Mississippi. Wrote about fictional Yoknapatawpha County in Mississippi. Famous works include The Sound and the Fury (about Compson family’s decline told from several points of view, including retarded Benjy, insane Quentin; title from Macbeth’s famous soliloquy) As I Lay Dying (about the poor Bundren family’s quest to bury their mother; told from multiple POV, even dead mother), and The Reivers, won the 1962 Pulitzer. (Interesting, Pointless Knowledge: worked as the postmaster of Oxford before being fired for not delivering the mail, but rather sitting around and reading the magazines. Also wrote for the movies, working on adapting Hemingway’s Farewell to Arms, making it the only film that involved two Nobel Prize winners.)
Maya Angelou
Who grew up poor in rural Arkansas, which she wrote about in I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings (title from the Dunbar poem). Also known for reading a poem at Bill Clinton’s first inauguration in 1993. Now she also writes Hallmark Cards. (Interesting, Pointless Knowledge: She moved to San Francisco and became the first female cable car driver.)
James Baldwin
Who is a black writer who spent several years living in Paris. Go Tell it on the Mountain, Notes of a Native Son, and The Fire Next Time.
John Berendt
Who wrote Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, a best seller about famous Savannah socialite Jim Williams who murders his boyfriend. Clint Eastwood directed the movie version.
Pearl Buck
Who was the child of white missionaries in China, she wrote a novel based on her experiences growing up in China, The Good Earth which won her the 1938 Nobel Prize.
Erskine Caldwell
Who wrote Tobacco Road, about hard times for 1930’s share croppers, Augusta, Georgia.
Truman Capote
Who is the Author of Breakfast at Tiffany’s (turned into a famous movie starring Audrey Hepburn), and In Cold Blood, about the murder of the Clutter family. (Interesting, Pointless Knowledge: a childhood friend of Harper Lee; supposedly he actually wrote To Kill a Mockingbird for her.)
Tom Clancy
Who was famous for his Cold War technology-laden novels. Hunt for the Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger, Red Storm Rising.
James Clavell
Who wrote thick novels turned into mini-series in the 1970s. Shogun (about a white explorer living in feudal Japan), Tai Pan, and Nobel House (set in Hong Kong).
Pat Conroy
Who wrote The Lords of Discipline about the Citadel, Beach Music, The Water is Wide, The Great Santini, The Prince of Tides. Lives in Atlanta.
Michael Crichton
Who dropped out of Harvard’s writing program because it was too hard, so he became a doctor instead, writing in his spare time. Wrote Airframe, Jurassic Park, Andromeda Strain, Rising Sun, and other thrillers. Also the creator of ER.
James Dickey
Who was a Georgian and wrote Deliverance about the bad canoe trip down Chattooga River; disturbing movie.
Ralph Ellison
Who wrote Invisible Man, about a black protagonist who says he is invisible because America doesn’t really see blacks. (Not to be confused with the HG Wells novel.) (random facts: middle name was Waldo)
Charles Frazier
Who wrote “Cold Mountain” about an injured Confederate soldier avoiding the Home Guard on his way home to the mountains near Asheville; won the National Book Award.
Robert Frost
Who was a poet born in Oakland, [San Francisco] CA, but forever known as a New Englander. “The Road Not Taken” (“I chose the road less traveled and that has made all the difference.”), “Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening” (“and miles to go before I sleep…”), “Mending Wall” (“Good fences make good neighbors”), “The Gift Outright” (read at JFK’s inauguration 1961).
Alan Ginsberg
Who beat the poet who wrote the long poem “Howl” (“I saw the best minds of my generation ruined…”)
William Golding
Who wrote Lord of the Flies? Boys prove humans are animals as they live unsupervised on an island. The title is a translation of Beelzebub, another name for Satan.
Sue Grafton
Who is the detective author of A is for Alibi, B is for Burglar, etc. series of Kinsey Milhone, female detective.
John Grisham
Who was a lawyer who wrote in his spare time? The Client, The Pelican Brief, The Rainmaker, The Firm, A Time to Kill, and other legal thrillers where the mob controls some aspect of the legal system.
Lorraine Hansberry
Who was a black playwright? Her play A Raisin in the Sun was the first play by an black woman produced on Broadway; the title comes from a Langston Hughes poem “A Dream Deferred.” To Be Young, Gifted and Black
Joseph Heller
Who is famous for Catch-22, about the absurdity of war. Yossarian, Major Major Major Major. Yossarian wants to stop fighting, only to find that you can’t get out of the army unless you are crazy, but wanting to get out of the army during a war proves you aren’t crazy. “Catch-22” has come to mean any double-bind you cannot escape.
O. Henry
(pen name of William Sydney Porter). Who was a Short story writer, known for his ironic sense of humor. Classic is “The Gift of the Magi” about Christmas among poor newlyweds who exchange gifts.
John Hersey
Who wrote A Bell for Adano (an Italian town gets a bell after WWII), and Hiroshima. (last name is the name of a famous chocolate company)
Langston Hughes
Who was the Poet of the Harlem Renaissance, though also an essayist and informal statesman. “Theme for English B.” “Dream Deferred” (see Hansberry).
Zora Neal Hurston
Who wrote “Their Eyes Were Watching God”?
Shirley Jackson
Who wrote “The Lottery” and other frightening short stories?
Jack Kerouac
Who wrote On the Road, Dharma Bums, major novelist of the Beat generation.
Joyce Kilmer
Who was a (male) poet killed in WWI. He wrote “Trees”: “I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree.”
Stephen King
Who was a high school English teacher turned most prolific writer of all-time. Famous novels include Carrie, Kujo, The Shining, Christine, It, The Stand, and many others that will keep you from sleeping. (Interesting, Pointless Knowledge: evidently he didn’t teach much, just told his students to read while he wrote)
Emma Lazarus
Who was a poet and social worker? Famous for one poem: “The New Colossus” inscribed on the Statue of Liberty (“Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free”).
Harper Lee
Who was a novelist known for To Kill a Mockingbird, about a lawyer defending a black man accused of raping a white woman. (see Truman Capote)
Sinclair Lewis
Who was a Midwestern novelist known for his novels exposing hypocrisy and pettiness of modern society. Main Street (set in Gopher Prairie), Elmer Gantry (about an insincere preacher). Won 1930 Nobel Prize.
Robert Ludlum
Who was a thriller writer of Bourne series (Bourne Identity, Bourne Supremacy, etc.), The Metarese Countdown.
Norman Mailer
Who wrote The Executioner’s Song, about the execution of Gary Gilmore. Major figure of New Journalism, where non-fiction writers used fictional techniques.
Bernard Malamud
Who wrote “The Natural” (about baseball, turned into a great movie w/ Robert Redford).
Carson McCullers
Who was a Georgia woman who wrote The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, The Member of the Wedding, and the Ballad of the Sad Café.
Frank McCourt
Who wrote “Angela’s Ashes”, about growing up poor in Ireland.
Larry McMurtry
Who was the writer of westerns Lonesome Dove, Comanche Moon
James Michener
Who wrote Tales of the South Pacific, Centennial, Chesapeake, Alaska, Space, Poland, Hawaii, and other epics. The most famous author of the “Books by the Pound” school of writing.
Arthur Miller
Who was a famous playwright? Famous for his classic plays Death of a Salesman and The Crucible and marrying Marilyn Monroe. (Interesting, Pointless Knowledge: went out to the woods and built a cabin to write in; while building, he thought up Death of a Salesman and wrote it down in just a few days.)
Margaret Mitchell
Who wrote Gone with the Wind was written in Atlanta, in an apartment at Peachtree Street and Tenth (where the Margaret Mitchell House is; coincidence?). The epic is about the love affair of Rhett Butler and Scarlet O’Hara during the Battle of Atlanta. Turned into a long, long 1939 movie.
Toni Morrison
Who was the African-American author of Beloved, The Bluest Eye; last American to win the Nobel Prize.
Ogden Nash
Who was a witty poet? Example, “The Ostrich,”
The ostrich roams the great Saraha./Its mouth is wide its neck is narra./It has such long and lofty legs,/I’m glad it sits to lay its eggs. – and –
“Children aren’t happy without something to ignore/and that’s what parents were created for.”
Flannery O’Connor
Who was a Georgia woman from Milledgeville known for her absurd and dark sense of humor. Kept peacocks. Wrote a novel Wise Blood, but known for her short stories: “Good Country People” (where Hulga gets her wooden leg stolen by a Bible salesman who collects prosthetics), “A Good Man is Hard to Find” (family on vacation runs into serial killer; the grandmother tries to talk him out of killing them; “She would have been a good woman if someone had been there to shoot her every minute of her life,”) “The Life You Save May Be Your Own” (man abandons retarded woman at roadside diner).
Sylvia Plath
Who was a poet who committed suicide after her marriage to British poet Ted Hughes fell apart. Wrote novel based on her life, The Bell Jar, and famous poem “Lady Lazarus.”
Majorie Kinnan Rawlings
Who wrote The Yearling, about a deer growing up in Florida. Won Pulitzer.
Anne Rice
Who was a gothic writer from New Orleans. Known for vampires: Interview with a Vampire
J.D. Salinger
Who was a famously reclusive author of Catcher in the Rye (an allusion to a Robert Burns poem), where Holden Caufield complains about the phonies around him.
Dr. Seuss
You all know who he is, so know that his real name was Theodore Geisel.
John Steinbeck
Who was the Nobel Prize winner born in Salinas, CA, known for his realistic portrayals of life for migrant workers during the Great Depression, often set in California. The Grapes of Wrath (the Joad family tries to survive the trip from Oklahoma to California; won the Pulitzer), Of Mice and Men (reference to Robert Burns poem “To a Mouse”; Lennie and George find work, Lennie wants rabbits, kills mice), The Red Pony (a boy gets a beautiful pony, sadness ensues), East of Eden (about Steinbeck’s own family in King Valley and Salinas; re-telling of Genesis). Travels with Charley (nonfiction travel writing).
William Styron
Who wrote “Confessions of Nat Turner”?(won Pulitzer)
Amy Tan
Who is the Chinese-American author of The Joy Luck Club about culture clash between immigrant Chinese mothers and their Chinese-American daughters.
Booth Tarkington
Who wrote the The Magnificent Ambersons? (later turned into a movie).
James Thurber
Who was a humorist who wrote “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.” “The Catbird Seat.”
John Updike
Who wrote a series of novels about confused suburbanite and former basketball star Rabbit: Run, Rabbit, Rabbit is Rich, Rabbit at Rest, etc.
Kurt Vonnegut
Who was the author of cult classic Slaughterhouse Five, about Billy Pilgrim who survives the Dresden fire bombing in World War II, being abducted by the alien Tralfamadorians, and traveling back and forth in his life. (“Listen: Billy Pilgrim has come unstuck in time.” “So it goes.”) One of the most banned books in America. Breakfast of Champions. Famous short story critiquing Communism: “Harrison Bergeron” (“It was the year 2084 and everyone was finally equal.”)
Alice Walker
Who lived in Eatonton, Georgia (along with Joel Chandler Harris, “Uncle Remus”). The Color Purple, turned into a famous movie with Oprah.
Robert Penn Walker
Who was a poet, critic, but remembered primarily as a novelist for All the King’s Men, based on the career of Louisiana Gov. Huey “Kingfish” Long. Also served as the first Poet Laureate of the United States.
Eudora Welty
Who was a short-story writer from Mississippi? “The Optimist’s Daughter” won the Pulitzer.
Thornton Wilder
Who was one of the few people to win Pulitzers in more than one category: The Bridge of San Luis Rey (Fiction, 1928), and Our Town (Drama, 1938). Won another drama Pulitzer, too.
Thomas Wolfe
Who was a North Carolina writer who wrote Modernist novels. Famous for autobiographical novel about growing up in Asheville, Look Homeward, Angel (title comes from “Lycidas” by Milton). Also wrote You Can’t Go Home Again. [especially if you live along GA 400]
Tom Wolfe
Who was one of the founders of New Journalism? “The Right Stuff” is about the American space program. Turned into a famous movie.
Herman Wouk
Who wrote “Winds of War” and “War and Remembrance” are about the Henry family during WWII. “The Caine Mutiny” is about crazy captain Queeg (a slight allusion to Moby Dick), known for eating strawberries and spinning steel balls in his palm.
Richard Wright
Who wrote “Black Boy and Native Son,” about the black experience in the 1930s and 1940s.
L. Frank Baum
Who wrote “The Wizard of Oz,” and many sequels; see Maguire. (Interesting, Pointless Knowledge: Baum started the stories by telling children stories in his spare time; Oz was the name he saw on a file cabinet)
Judy Blume
Who is a modern author who wrote “Tales of a 4th Grade Nothing,” “Tiger Eyes,”
Ray Bradbury
Who wrote “Fahrenheit 451” (Firemen burn books), “The Martian Chronicles,” “The Illustrated Man,” “Dandelion Wine,” “Something Wicked This Way Comes”
Erin Colfer
Who wrote the “Artemis Fowl” novels featuring young Artemis, Capt. Holly Short of the LEPrecon fairy police and James-Bond-for-kids adventures.
Robert Cormier
Who wrote “I Am the Cheese”, “The Chocolate War”
Ernest Gaines
Who wrote “Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman” (fictional account of a woman born a slave and lived a loooong time)
Alex Haley
Who wrote “Roots”, “Autobiography of Malcolm X” from interviews
Virginia Hamliton
Who was the black author of “M. C. Higgins the Great,” [Newberry] “A White Romance,” “American Black Folk Tales,” “House of Dies Drear”
S.E. Hinton
Who published The Outsiders when she was 17; also Rumble Fish, Tex, That Was Then, This is Now and others.
Daniel Keyes
Who wrote “Flowers for Algernon,” featuring mouse Algernon and retarded nice guy, Charlie. Later made into movie, “Charly.”
Robert Lipstyte
Who wrote “The Contender”?`
Gregory Maguire
Who wrote “Wicked,” “Son of a Witch,” “Confessions of an Ugly Step-Sister,” “Mirror, Mirror”. Re-teller of fairy stories, Wicked a Broadway hit, created the name “Elfaba,” for the Wicked Witch of the West in “Wicked” from L. Frank Baum’s initials: L-F-B
Scott O’Dell
Who wrote “Sing Down the Moon,” “Island of the Blue Dolphins”?
Christopher Paolini
Who wrote “Eragon”, “Eldest”, and a third yet to come. (b. 1983) Began “Eragon” at age 15; youngest author since S.E. Hinton to create best-selling novels for young adult readers. Lives in Montana.
Philip Pullman
Who wrote “His Dark Materials” triology (Golden Compass, Subtle Knive, Amber Spyglass) and four novels with Sally Lockhart including “The Ruby in the Smoke.”
Wilson Rawls
Who wrote “Where the Red Fern Grows?”
Conrad Richter
Who wrote “The Light in the Forest?”
Betty Smith
WHo wrote “A Tree Grows in Brooklyn?”
Jonathan Stroud
Who wrote The Bartimaeus Trilogy: “The Amulet of Samarkand”, “The Golem’s Eye” and “Ptolemy’s Gate”, 1500 year old djinni (genie) causes grief for Nathaniel
Theodore Taylor
Who wrote “The Cay?”
E.B. (Andy) White
Who wrote “Charlotte’s Web” (Charlotte the spider befriends Wilbur the pig), “Stuart Little” (Interesting, Pointless Knowledge: was John Updike’s step-father.)
Laura Ingalls Wilder
Who wrote “Little House on the Prairie” series?
(made into a popular television series in the 1970s)
Paul Zindel
Who wrote “The Pigman?”
• born April 23, 1564; died April 23, 1616 (maybe)
• married Ann Hathaway, 3 children, Stratford-on-Avon
• part owner of Globe Theater, London
• wrote 152 sonnets
Henry VI
This Shakespeare play was about history. Story of War of the Roses between House of York (white) and House of Lancaster (red). Henry VI killed, Edward IV becomes king.
• “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers!” Dick the butcher
Richard III
This Shakespeare play was abouthistory. Completes story begun in Henry VI.
• “A horse! A horse! My kingdom for a horse!” Richard III
The Taming of the Shrew
Name this Shakespeare comedy. Set in Padua, Italy. Katherina (the shrew) refuses to marry, and her sister, Bianca, cannot marry until Katherina does. Petruchio of Verona wins her heart by feigning indifference. Inspiration for musical, Kiss Me Kate and the movie, 10 Things I Hate About You, starring Julia Stiles.
• “This is a way to kill with kindness.” Petruchio
• “Kiss me Kate, we will be married o’Sunday.” Petruchio
Romeo and Juliet
Name this famous (and for some people, the only Shakespeare play they know) Shakespeare tragedy. Montagues and Capulets, two families of Verona, are feuding. Romeo MONTAGUE and Juliet CAPULET fall in love. Romeo’s friend, Mercutio, and Juliet’s cousin, Tybalt, are killed. Romeo is banished for killing Tybalt, Juliet fakes her death with a drug given by the friar to she can escape to join Romeo. Romeo thinks she’s really dead and drinks poison. Juliet awakens in a tomb, sees Romeo’s body and kills herself using Romeo’s dagger. Their deaths end the families’ long feud. Inspired two famous film versions, 1968 by Zeffirelli and 1996 by Luhrmann.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream
Name this Shakespeare comedy.
NOTE: NOT A Midsummer’s Night Dream!
Set in Athens, Greece. Theseus, Duke of Athens, woos Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons. Oberon, King of the Fairies, argues with his wife, Titania. Hermia loves Lysander, Helena loves Demetrius, but circumstances keep the couples apart. In the woods, Puck, a fairy, gives love potions to the wrong people. Titania falls in love with Bottom, a local tradesman whom Oberon has given the head of an ass. It all works out. Inspiration for Mendelssohn’s famous “Wedding March” and music for “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.” Mendelssohn’s music is usually played as the bride and groom leave the church. Not to be confused with Wagner’s “Bridal Chorus” from “Lohengrin” (i.e. “Here Comes the Bride”).
• “Lord what fools these mortals be!” Puck
The Merchant of Venice
Name this Shakespeare comedy. (Sometimes considered a tragedy). Antonio, a merchant, borrows money from Shylock, a Jewish moneylender; the security is a “pound of flesh.” Portia, an heiress, persuades Shylock to relent about the loan. Shylock is forced to convert…
• “It is a wise father that knows his own child.”
• “In the twinkling of an eye . . .”
• “All that glitters is not gold.” Prince of Morocco
• “If you prick us (Jews), do we not bleed?” Shylock
• “Tell me where is fancy bred/Or in the heart or in the head?”
• “The quality of mercy is not strained.” Portia
Much Ado about Nothing
Name this Shakespeare comedy. Stormy romance of Beatrice and Benedic.
Julius Caesar
Name this Shakespeare tragedy. Cassius persuades Brutus, the noblest Roman, to join in the plot to kill Caesar. They murder him on the Ides of March.
• “Beware the Ides of March.” Soothsayer
• “It was Greek to me (meaning confusing)” Casca
• “Cowards die many time their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once.” Caesar
• “I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him.” Anthony
As You Like It
Name this Shakespeare comedy. Orlando and Rosalind are married after many trials.
• “All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players . . .” Jester
Name this Shakespeare tragedy. Shakespeare’s longest play, “The Danish Play,” set in Elsinor Castle in Denmark. When Hamlet’s father dies, his mother marries his uncle Claudius. The ghost of Hamlet’s father tells Hamlet to avenge his death. Hamlet kills Polonius, the king’s advisor. Ophelia loves Hamlet but goes mad and drowns after being rejected by him. Hamlet is killed. Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are in this play. They are inspiration for “Rosencrantz & Guildenstern are Dead,” play by Tom Stoppard.
Name this Shakespeare tragedy (the name sounds like a board game with pieces that are different colors on different sides). Othello, the Moor of Venice, is married to Desdemona. Iago, passed over for promotion, plots to ruin Othello and Cassio. Othello is tricked into thinking that Cassio and Desdemona are lovers, and he smothers Desdemona with a pillow. When he learns of her loyalty to him, he kills himself and Cassio brings Iago to justice. Inspiration for the movie, “O” starring Josh Hartnett with “Odin,” played by Mekhi Phifer as a top black basketball player. The 1995 film starred Laurence Fishburn, the first African American to portray Othello.
Inspiration for Verdi’s opera, Otello (not Othello)
• “O! beware, my lord, of jealousy. It is the green-eyed monster.” Iago
• “Then you must speak of one that loved not wisely but too well.” Othello
King Lear
Name this Shakespeare tragedy. Lear plans to divide his kingdom among his three daughters: Goneril, Regan and Cordelia, asking each to proclaim their love for him. Goneril and Regan flatter him like crazy, but Cordelia offers proper love and devotion. Lear exiles her, and her sisters drive their father mad. Goneril kills Regan, Regan commits suicide, and Cordelia is killed. Lear eventually realizes that Cordelia was the good one.
• “Nothing will come of nothing.” Lear
• “How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child.” Lear
Name this Shakespeare tragedy, “The Scottish Play.” Set in Scotland, Macbeth and his friend, Banquo, meet three witches who predict that Macbeth will replace Duncan as King of Scotland. Macbeth, with Lady Macbeth’s encouragement, murders Duncan at Dunsinane Castle. Macbeth, uneasy as the new king, murders Banquo and the Macduff family. Lady Macbeth, consumed by guilt, wanders the castle at night trying to wash away imaginary blood. She dies, and Macduff leads an army against Macbeth. He kills him and becomes king.
• “When shall we three meet again? In thunder, lightening or in rain? (First Witch)
• “Fair is foul, and foul is fair.” Three witches
• “But screw your courage t the sticking place.” Lady Macbeth
• “Is this a dagger which I see before me?” Lady Macbeth
• “Double, double toil, and trouble; fire burn and caldron bubble . . .” Three Witches
• “Eye of newt, and toe of frog, wool of bat and tongue of dog.” Second Witch
• “Out, damned spot! Out, I say!” Lady Macbeth to imaginary blood
• “It is a tale, told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” Macbeth
The Tempest
Name this Shakespeare tragic comedy or romance. Prospero and his daughter, Miranda, live on an island since their shipwreck. His enemies are shipwrecked by a tempest created by Prospero. Ariel, a spirit, helps defeat Caliban, a monster-like slave plotting against Prospero. Ariel is freed, everyone is happy. This is Shakespeare’s last play!
• “What’s past is prologue.”
• “We are such stuff as dreams are made on.”
• “O Brave new world that has such people in’t.”
Name this (~ 700-900s) Greatest Anglo-Saxon work. Set in Denmark. The hero, Beowulf, saves King Hrothgar’s kingdom from the monster Grendel, whose mother eventually seeks revenge.
Geoffrey Chaucer
Name this (c. 1343-1400) author who wrote “The Canterbury Tales”. It is the greatest work of Middle English. A group of pilgrims–on a trip to the shrine of Thomas á Becket in Canterbury—tell stories (some very crude and explicit) to pass the time on their journey. Pilgrims include the Physician, Lawyer, Manciple, Merchant, Shipman, Tradesman, Cook, Wife of Bath, Innkeeper, Knight, Squire, Yeoman, Franklin, Reeve, Miller, Plowman, Parson, Summoner, Monk, Friar, Prioress, Pardoner, Student. The Prologue begins: “Whan that Aprill with his shoures soote, the droghte of March hath perced ot the roote…”
Sir Thomas Malroy
Name this author who wrote (?-1471) Morte d’ Arthur (Death of Arthur). Tells of the Kinghts of the Round Table, Merlin, Guinevere, her lover Sir Launcelot, evil Sir Mordred, Exalibur (the sword given to Arthur by the Lady of the Lake), Sirg Galahd’s search for the Holy Grail, Arthur’s disappearance to the island of Avalon, Camelot.
Edmund Spenser
(1552-1599). Called the poet’s poet. Wrote The Faerie Queene in Spenserian stanza ababbcbcc; the first eight lines in iambic pentameter, the ninth having an extra syllable.
Sir Walter Raleigh
Who was the (1552-1618) Founder of Roanoke Colony, executed. Wrote History of the World while in prison. (Supposedly he put his cape over a puddle for Queen Elizabeth, and a cliché of chivalry was born.)