How much do you know about the authors of your favorite books? Did you ever wonder what inspired E.B. White to write “Charlotte’s Web?” Maybe you’d like to learn more about reclusive author J.D. Salinger or find out how Theodor Giesel, the ad man, became Dr. Seuss, the children's author.
Checking out one of these author biographies or autobiographies might help you learn the story behind the story.
Autobiography of Mark Twain. Volume 1 by Harriet Elinor Smith, editor ; associate editors: Benjamin Griffin, Victor Fischer, Michael B. Frank, Sharon K. Goetz, Leslie Myrick. This autobiography presents Mark Twain’s authentic and unsuppressed voice, brimming with humor, ideas, and opinions, and speaking clearly from the grave as he intended.
Bird Cloud: a Memoir by Annie Proulx. “Bird Cloud” is the name Annie Proulx gave to 640 acres of Wyoming wetlands and prairie and four-hundred-foot cliffs plunging down to the North Platte River. Proulx, a writer with extraordinary powers of observation and compassion, here turns her lens on herself.
Gabriel García Márquez : the Early Years by Ilan Stavans. This long-awaited biography provides a fascinating and comprehensive picture of García Márquez's life up to the publication of his classic “100 Years of Solitude.” Based on nearly a decade of research, this biographical study sheds new light on the life and works of the Nobel Laureate, father of magical realism and bestselling author in the history of the Spanish language.
A Great Unrecorded History: a New Life of E.M. Forster by Wendy Moffat. With the posthumous publication of his long-suppressed novel “Maurice” in 1970, E.M. Forster came out as a homosexual. Moffat offers a revelatory look at the intimate life of the great author – and how it shaped his life as a writer.
J.D. Salinger: a Life by Kenneth Slawenski. One of the most popular and mysterious figures in American literary history, J. D. Salinger eluded fans and journalists for most of his life. Now comes a new biography that Peter Ackroyd in The Times of London calls “energetic and magnificently researched,” a book from which “a true picture of Salinger emerges.”
Louisa May Alcott by Susan Cheever. Susan Cheever's comprehensive and definitive biography sheds new light on the life of Louisa May Alcott, whose work has inspired generations of women. Cheever laces this provocative biography with musings on the genesis of genius, and her identification with Jo March when she was a rebellious girl in the throes of puberty.
I Love a Broad Margin to My Life by Maxine Hong Kingston. In her singular voice “humble, elegiac, practical,” Maxine Hong Kingston sets out to reflect on aging as she turns sixty-five.
Mad World : Evelyn Waugh and the Secrets of Brideshead by Paula Byrne. In this engrossing biography of English novelist Evelyn Waugh, Byrne presents Waugh through those friendships that mattered most to him. Far from the snobbish misanthrope of popular caricature, she uncovers a loving and complex man.
The Mystery of Lewis Carroll: Discovering the Whimsical, Thoughtful and Sometimes Lonely Man who Created Alice in Wonderland by Jenny Woolf. In this biography, the author shines a new light on the creator of “Alice In Wonderland” and brings to life this fascinating, but sometimes exasperating human being whom some have tried to hide.
Richard Wright: from Black Boy to World Citizen by Jennifer Jensen Wallach. Wallach’s biography traces Wright from his obscure origins to international fame, from the cotton fields of Mississippi to his expatriate home of Paris. She highlights Wright's various attempts to answer the driving question of his life: “How can I live freely?”
Sempre Susan: a Memoir of Susan Sontag by Sigrid Nunez. Published six years after the author's death, “Sempre Susan” is a startlingly truthful portrait of this outsized personality, who, through sheer force of will, made being an intellectual a glamorous occupation.
A Short Autobiography by F. Scott Fitzgerald ; edited by James L. W. West III. Compiled and edited by Professor James West, this collection of personal essays and articles reveals the beloved author in his own words.
The Story of Charlotte's Web: E. B. White's Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic by Michael Sims. Blending White's correspondence with the likes of Ursula Nordstrom, James Thurber, and Harold Ross, the E. B. White papers at Cornell, and the archives of HarperCollins and the New Yorker into his own elegant narrative, the author brings to life the shy boy whose animal stories, real and imaginary, made him famous around the world.
Storyteller: the Authorized Biography of Roald Dahl by Donald Sturrock. This biography, written by a BBC producer and director who knew Dahl and worked with the cooperation of the author's adult children and both wives – one of whom was film star Patricia Neal – covers the man and his reputation.
Theodor Seuss Geisel by Donald E. Pease. After graduating from Dartmouth, Theodor Geisel used his talents as an ad-man, political provocateur, and social satirist, gradually but irrevocably turning to children's books. “Theodor Seuss Geisel” tells the unlikely story of this remarkable transformation.
"There are Things I Want You to Know" about Stieg Larsson and Me by Eva Gabrielsson; with Marie-Franìoise Colombani ; translated from the French by Linda Coverdale. Author Eva Gabrielsson was the long-time life partner of Stieg Larsson, author of the popular Millennium trilogy. She presents vignettes of their 32 years together, revealing details of their early lives, their political activism in Sweden, Larsson's magazine and investigative journalism and their hobbies. She describes the legal problems following Larsson's death, while still holding out hope for a possible fourth book.
A Widow’s Story: a Memoir by Joyce Carol Oates. Oates's deeply personal and intimate memoir – unlike anything she's written before – about the unexpected death of her husband of 40 years, Raymond Smith, and its wrenching, surprising aftermath.
William Golding: the Man who Wrote "Lord of the Flies," a Life by John Carey. In 1953, William Golding was a provincial schoolteacher, rejected by every major publisher – until an editor pulled “Lord of the Flies” off the rejection pile. He went on to become one of the most popular and influential British authors since World War II – disheveled and darkly humorous, sometimes more disturbing than he is palatable, and above all fascinating.
Find this article at