American Authors – List and Backgrounds for Research Paper
7. Pearl S. Buck - Pearl had begun to publish stories and essays in the 1920s, in magazines such as Nation, The Chinese Recorder, Asia, and Atlantic Monthly. Her first novel, East Wind, West Wind, was published by the John Day Company in 1930. In 1964, to provide support for Amerasian children who were not eligible for adoption, Pearl also established the Pearl S. Buck Foundation, which provides sponsorship funding for thousands of children in half-a-dozen Asian countries. Pearl Buck died in March, 1973, just two months before her eighty-first birthday.
8. Langston Hughes - Langston Hughes achieved fame as a poet during the burgeoning of the arts known as the Harlem Renaissance, but those who label him "a Harlem Renaissance poet" have restricted his fame to only one genre and decade. In addition to his work as a poet, Hughes was a novelist, columnist, playwright, and essayist, and though he is most closely associated with Harlem, his world travels influenced his writing in a profound way.
9. Willa Cather - Born December 7, 1873, near Winchester, Virginia. When she was nine years old, her family moved to the town of Red Cloud, Nebraska, later the setting for a number of her novels. She attended the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. After college she spent the next few years doing newspaper work and teaching high school in Pittsburgh. She moved to New York City and worked for six years on the editorial staff of McClure's Magazine. Cather won the Pulitzer Prize in 1923 for One of Ours.
10. Edna St. Vincent Millay - Edna St. Vincent Millay, born in 1892 in Maine, grew to become one of the premier twentieth-century lyric poets. She was also an accomplished playwright and speaker who often toured giving readings of her poetry. All of that was in her public life, but her private life was equally interesting. An unconventional childhood led into an unconventional adulthood.
11. Brett Harte - Bret Harte (1836-1902) is known today as one of the classic writers of Western pulp fiction, a genre that flourished with the dime novel. Drawing on his experiences in California's gold mining camps, Harte captures authentic stories which became more than just local color writing; his stories of this period spawned an explosion of regional writing.
12. Katherine Anne Porter - In 1930 her first book, FLOWERING JUDAS, was published by Harcourt Brace. It was not until almost ten years later that she published her second book, a collection of three short novels, PALE HORSE, PALE RIDER. Concerning herself overtly with the rise of Nazism, Porter was able to further investigate the dark side of the average person.
13. Shirley Jackson - Life Among the Savages (1953) and Raising Demons (1957) are witty and humorous fictionalized memoirs about the Jackson’s life with their four children. Their light, comic tone contrasts sharply with the dark pessimism of Jackson's other works, whose general theme is the presence of evil and chaos just beneath the surface of ordinary, everyday life. "The Lottery," a chilling tale whose meaning has been much debated, provoked widespread public outrage when it was first published in The New Yorker in 1948.
14. Flannery O’Connor - 1947-1950 in New York and Conn. writes short stories and begins first novel. Stories are violent and grotesque, with underlying Christian themes. Flannery led a rather uneventful life that was focused almost exclusively on her vocation as a writer and devotion to her Catholic faith.
15. Emily Dickinson - Her poetry reflects her loneliness and the speakers of her poems generally live in a state of want; but her poems are also marked by the intimate recollection of inspirational moments which are decidedly life-giving and suggest the possibility of future happiness.
16. Herman Melville - an American novelist, essayist, and poet. During his own lifetime his early novels, South Seas adventures, were quite popular, but his audience declined later in his life. By the time of his death he had nearly been forgotten, but his masterpiece, Moby-Dick, was "rediscovered" in following years and he is now widely esteemed as one of the most important figures in American literature.
17. T.S. Eliot - The masterstroke of Eliot's career was to parlay the success of The Waste Land by means of an equally ambitious effort of a more traditional literary kind. Eliot spent much of the last half of his career writing one kind of drama or another, and attempting to reach (and bring together) a larger and more varied audience.
18. William Faulkner - More than simply a renowned Mississippi writer, the Nobel Prize-winning novelist and short story writer is acclaimed throughout the world as one of the twentieth century’s greatest writers, one who transformed his “postage stamp” of native soil into a setting in which he explored and challenged “the old verities and truths of the heart.”
19. Ernest Hemingway - Ernest Hemingway was one of the world’s ultimate Literary Travelers. He was a writer that we associate with many places around the globe. When we think of Ernest Hemingway we might think of Paris and The Sun Also Rises or Spain and For Whom the Bell Tolls, or Italy and A Farewell to Arms.
20. Zora Neale Hurston - (January 7, 1891–January 28, 1960) was an African-American folklorist and author. Her best-known work is most likely Their Eyes Were Watching God.
21. Julia Alvarez - "What made me into a writer was coming to this country . . . all of a sudden losing a culture, a homeland, a language, a family . . . I wanted a portable homeland. And that's the imagination." Exile became the basis for two of Alvarez's best-selling novels: HOW THE GARCIA GIRLS LOST THEIR ACCENTS (1991) and its sequel ¡YO! (1997).
22. Sinclair Lewis - Sinclair Lewis was the first American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. Although he was proud of his Midwestern roots, he traveled widely and was interested in many different aspects of American society, from business and medicine to religion and small town life.
23. Norman Mailer - Just before enrolling in the Sorbonne, in Paris, he wrote The Naked and the Dead(1948) based on his personal experiences in World War II, it was both a critical and commercial success and hailed by many as one of the finest American novels to come out of WWII.
24. Carson McCullers - American author who examined the psychology of lonely, isolated people. McCullers published only eight books. Her best known novels are THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER 1940, written at the age of twenty-two, and REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE (1942), set in a military base.
25. Frank Norris - After studying in Paris, at the Univ. of California (1890-94), and Harvard, he wrote McTeague (1899), a proletarian novel influenced by the experimental naturalism of Zola. His most impressive work was his proposed trilogy, “The Epic of Wheat,” of which only two parts were written— The Octopus (1901), depicting the brutal struggle between the wheat farmers and the railroad, and The Pit (1903), dealing with speculation on the Chicago grain market.
26. Joyce Carol Oates - Oates writes about contemporary American life, which she sees as often defined by violence. She is particularly concerned with the connection between violence and love. Her characters are mainly ordinary, inarticulate people who sublimate the terrible things that happen to them.
27. J.D. Salinger - American novelist and short story writer. Salinger published one novel and several short story collections between 1948-59. His best-known work is THE CATCHER IN THE RYE (1951), a story about a rebellious teenage schoolboy and his quixotic experiences in New York.
28. Gertrude Stein - (b. Feb. 3, 1874, Allegheny, Pa., U.S.--d. July 27, 1946, Paris), Avant-garde American writer, eccentric, and self-styled genius, whose Paris home was a salon for the leading artists and writers of the period between World Wars I and II.
29. John Steinbeck - American novelist, story writer, playwright, and essayist. John Steinbeck received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962. He is best remembered for THE GRAPES OF WRATH (1939), a novel widely considered to be a 20th-century classic.
30. Amy Tan - "Tan's literary career was not planned; in fact, she first began writing fiction as a form of therapy. She became dissatisfied with her work life and sought to eradicate her workaholic tendencies through psychological counseling. Works include The Joy Luck Club and The Kitchen God’s Wife.
31. John Hersey - John Richard Hersey was born in Tientsin, China, in 1914 and lived there until 1925, when his family returned to the United States. He worked as a journalist and war correspondent during World War II for Time Magazine and became well known for his writing about the war. In 1946 he wrote Hiroshima, an account about nuclear devastation and human suffering.
32. Alice Walker - Recognized as one of the leading voices among black American women writers, Alice Walker has produced an acclaimed and varied body of work, including poetry, novels, short stories, essays, and criticism. Her writings portray the struggle of black people throughout history, and are praised for their insightful and riveting portraits of black life.
33. Eudora Welty - One of America's most admired authors and short story writers, Miss Welty is known for her depiction of comic Southern voices and small town Mississippi.
34. Tennessee Williams - One of America’s greatest playwrights, and certainly the greatest ever from the South, Tennessee Williams wrote fiction and motion picture screenplays, but he is acclaimed primarily for his play—nearly all of which are set in the South, but which at their best rise above regionalism to approach universal themes.
35. Richard Wright - One of America’s greatest black writers, Richard Wright was also among the first African American writers to achieve literary fame and fortune, but his reputation has less to do with the color of his skin than with the superb quality of his work. Though he spent only a few years of his life in Mississippi, those years would play a key role in his two most important works: Native Son, a novel, and his autobiography, Black Boy.
36. Arthur Miller - American playwright who combined in his works social awareness with deep insights into personal weaknesses of his characters'. Miller is best known for the play DEATH OF A SALESMAN (1949), or on the other hand, for his marriage to the actress Marilyn Monroe. Miller's plays continued the realistic tradition that began in the United States in the period between the two world wars.
37. F. Scott Fitzgerald - F. Scott Fitzgerald's life is a tragic example of both sides of the American Dream - the joys of young love, wealth and success, and the tragedies associated with excess and failure. Major works include The Great Gatsby and This Side of Paradise
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