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a writer's journey as a reader

Archive for the tag “Harper Lee”

Reader Round Up: December


December is reading crunch time. School is winding down, Christmas stress is building, weather is all about keeping the driveway clear of snow, and that Good Reads Reading Challenge number smirks quietly–“gonna miss it this year-heh heh.”

YET–this year December proved quite complacent. Two snow days prior to the Christmas Break (which didn’t happen until 12/22!?!) helped calm the last minute crazies and allow for last minute holiday need-to-get-done. As for the usual Good Reads smirk? Didn’t happen. Remember? I had tremendous down time in August nursing my broken wrist and managed a huge padding of 20 books read that month. I finished the year well, being over my 101 goal plus 12. I don’t plan on breaking anything in 2018 or anticipate unexpected down time, but I will pluckily sign up for another 101 reading goal.

One really lovely aspect of late  Christmas Break is two weeks of reading guilt free. I really appreciate that break from grading, and cozying up with books is truly a balm to my frazzledness. Here are a few top picks from December:

After the Rain  by Karen White


Although somewhat predicable in plot [troubled woman on the run stops in a small town and gets accepted by all the usual stereotypes and then falls for the town good guy, and there are major problems getting together but of course you know they will], this nevertheless has solid writing and provides that comfy, light read needed after a long week.
Mockingbird Songs by Wayne Flynt


I surprisingly did not hear about this book until I found it whilst shelf browsing. Dr Wayne Flynt and his wife Dartie have the distinction of being within Nelle Harper Lee’s inner circle. The friendship began with professional correspondence, since Flynt is a noted historian, and warmed up to a true relationship lasting a couple of decades. In fact, Flynt provided Lee’s eulogy. While more of a epistolary than a true biography, the correspondence between Flynt and Lee reveals aspects of Lee’s personality that solidly establishes her as a national treasure.

Green Tiger’s Illustrated Stories from Shakespeare


A definite charmer. Ten of Shakespeare’s most well-known plays are paired with captivating artwork, and are retold by E. Nesbit. Aimed towards children, this is an adaption that is appealing for anyone interested in Shakespeare, or even those desiring a winsome read.

 Steal Away Home by Billy Coffey


Billy Coffey is establishing himself as a storyteller who combines faith with a tale that’s in no hurry to get there. The plot will travel forward some and then twist and turn and settle in for a culimating ending that is so surprising it makes a reader shout out loud. At least I did. This is a story of living with choices made, of loving with a divided heart. And baseball. Coffey flips his story around a live game and the past that brought a Cinderella minor player up to the majors for one night. A five star.

Red Kayak by Priscilla Cummings


Looking for books to plump up my classroom SSR shelf, I picked up this surprising gem at the local library book sale. Not being a huge fan of younger YA, I didn’t have high expectations for an engaging read. Wrong call. Cummings presents a compelling story of how one decision can affect many people, and she does it without a sermon. Her realistic situations and characters resonate well. I promptly set off to find the other two books in the series. Another five star.

Looking forward to another year of Good Reads. Any favorites from 2017?

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Atticus: Racist or Realist?


The hub-bub about Go Set a Watchman seems to have dissipated, much like a thunderstorm that rumbled ever so much and offered only a spate of rain. Basically, Harper Lee’s “second” novel wasn’t as refreshing as anticipated.

Did Watchman change your opinion of Atticus? image: USNews.com

First of all–lots of skepticism precluded its arrival as in how did Lee not remember it even being around? Why did it suddenly get found after Alice (sister/lawyer/protector) passed away? Why was there an elder abuse investigation following Lee’s decision to publish the manuscript? There was also trepidation at her request of having it published “as is.”

Watchman arrived early July and now as we roll into September there are few comments left to make. Actually, I don’t recall too much buzz in July. The overall feeling I have gathered is a “meh.”

There seems to be a consensus that this novel is basically a draft and that the “good” parts were plucked away to create Mockingbird. Given time and an editor’s guiding hand, Watchman could have been the novel we all anticipated.

That’s not my main concern–that is, the quality of the writing. Lee’s talent for characterization and dialogue, along with her penchant for subtle wit still shines.

My intention is to un-besmirch Atticus’ reputation. Since so many are in agreement that Watchman is unpolished, I’m surprised that so many are quick to judge Atticus as a racist. My belief is that he is a realist, not a racist.

For one, Scout, as a girl, never heard racist remarks from her father while growing up in the Finch household. She even says so as she has her showdown with him towards the end of the book. Jean Louise, the grown woman, even clobbers Atticus with the hurled comment how he raised her to be color-blind, to look at a person’s heart more intently than their skin color. Even Uncle Jack couldn’t argue with that argument.

Another point made is how Atticus refuses to get riled at Jean Louise’s verbal scathing of him being a hypocrite. He knows he isn’t one, so he doesn’t get offended. His reason is logical, one of his strong suits. He attends the meetings Jean Louise deems as KKK because he wants to know who is behind the sheets. Just because he attends a meeting doesn’t make him a believer. Just like going to the gym doesn’t make a person fit and healthy. Atticus is a savvy lawyer which means he looks into all angles of the case in order to be prepared to sway the jury. In this version his young Negro client is acquitted–would a racist truly want that to happen? That verdict was very unusual for the times and only someone who believed in justice could have been able to have justice served out. Obviously, this outcome changed in Mockingbird, making it even more heart-rendering that Atticus’ strength as a lawyer, with all the obvious right on his side, couldn’t sway the jury.

Another consideration is that Atticus, a man of influence, lives in a small town. He is wise playing his hand close to his chest. He can’t offer a voice of reason if he is seen as having “gone to the other side.” Atticus, having served in the legislature, knows the value of being a politician, that saying one thing and believing another, and making others believe in what he wants them to believe, is imperative to getting votes for projects and issues of concern.

There is one other point that people misinterpret. When he says the Negroes (the coinage of the times) aren’t ready to go toe-to-toe with the whites and doesn’t want them getting all stirred up by outsiders, he isn’t patronizing–he is functioning as a padre, a fatherly-minded protector.  He knows they aren’t ready due to inexcusable education deficits, that equality doesn’t happen overnight. Atticus is all about justice, and justice is not served if the playing field is heavily encumbered by advantages not given to the other players.

Wait, one more something. Harper knows how to put punch into her titles, just ask any ninth grader who has been given the task to analyze To Kill a Mockingbird. Mockingbird carries many meanings. Go Set a Watchman is along the same path. The title refers to Isaiah 21:6 For thus hath the Lord said unto me, Go, set a watchman, let him declare what he seeth.” To better understand the verse and what the watchman is seeing read the passage entirety. The passage speaks of the grievous pain caused by treacherous dealers. War is soon coming and the setting of a watchman will inform what is happening. Atticus is that watchman. He is set to report all that is approaching. The watchman is a trusted position. Atticus is that watchman for the South, and its upcoming changes. Lee knew Atticus could be trusted to report the truth.

Realizing there is a bit more to the racist or realist idea than just forming an opinion, I dug up some interesting research. Give these links a try and determine for yourself about Atticus and his stance:

Are you a racist quiz (take it as if Atticus might–even in Watchman mode (how well did you read the book, between the lines, y’all?)

Psychology Today article on racism.

In Mockingbird we were dazzled by the paragon of virtue who wore a three-piece suit of justice; in Watchman we realized he puts that suit on one leg at a time.

So, what do you think–is Atticus really a racist after all?

Reading Challenge #44: Go Set a Watchman


‘Go Set a Watchman’ will land at No. 1 on USA TODAY’s Best-Selling Books list. (Photo: Joe Raedle, Getty Images)

BEWARE: UNINTENDED SPOILERS AHEAD

No matter your opinion about Harper Lee’s “latest” novel, here are some stats from USA Today that can’t be ignored:

  • Publisher HarperCollins says more than 1.1 million copies of Watchman have sold so far in print, e-book and audio formats (the audio is read by Reese Witherspoon), making it the fastest-selling book in company history.
  • Barnes & Noble says Watchman‘s first-day sales surpassed that of any other adult trade fiction title, including Dan Brown’s 2009 novel The Lost Symbol, the previous record holder. B&N said it expects Watchman to be its best-selling book of 2015. (B&N declined to provide sales figures.)
  • At Amazon, Watchman has been the No. 1 best-seller in print since its release, and is also No. 1 on the Kindle Best Sellers list. (Amazon updates its lists hourly.)

I have been following most of the media blitz on Lee’s novel, ever since the hint that a second novel was “found.” I say most, simply because saturation was reached around June. I am a devoted To Kill a Mockingbird fan, who not only reads the novel once a year (or tries to), but teaches it most enthusiastically to ninth graders (when assigned that grade), so mention of another Lee novel definitely set my little heart pitter-pat.

And then the barrage of concerns floated about in the Net:

  • it was found after Lee’s sister Alice passed away
  • Lee resides in an assisted living home, having suffered a stroke, and suffering from hearing loss and macular degeneration gives speculative thought how coherent she really is
  • lawyers, editors, publishers are not in absolute agreement in exactly how the manuscript was found
  • many longtime residents, friends, and others who know Harper Lee were concerned enough about her being possibly coerced into consent that an elder abuse complaint was filed
  • not too many of my fellow Book Boosters have blogged reviews about the book

A lot of deep hmmm-ing took place over the subsequent months as I anticipated the novel’s well-awaited debut. I kept tabs on most of the articles and opinions that surfaced, although, as stated, saturation did preclude any deep dwelling, especially as speculative opinion was fast becoming redundant.

I deliberated continually of whether or not I would read the novel. My inner dilemmas ping-ponged accordingly:

  • why risk ruining the high opinion of TKAM?
  • why not risk it?–there will forever be the wanting to know.
  • read it and determine an opinion before others ruin the reading experience.
  • why should I let others sway since they usually don’t?

And so it went, until finally in June I called up the local library and asked to be put on the waiting list. I figured it would be December before it would be my turn. I received the book two days after it became available. Okay, just because it’s on hold doesn’t mean I have to read it. As I checked it out I noticed no other date stamps.

“I’m the first one to read it!”

“We ordered a stack of them. You’re the first to read this one.” Okay, Earth to special patron status. But at least it was in my hand. I asked my library kindreds if they had read the book.

“I had it in hand, and decided not to.” A non-com shrug from the other librarian. Great. I’m really in quandary now. Then again, who knows when I will read it once school starts. Summer is my reading season. Once school starts it’s back to reading essays.

Watchman stayed on my shelf for three days before I actually started it. A conversation with a fellow TKAMer teacher prompted me to actually open the book.

“There is a chapter that will take your breath away.”

“Which chapter?”

“You’ll know it when you see it.”

I started the book at 4:30 pm and finished it by 9:30 am. I did stop to sleep. Barely. And yes, the chapter mentioned did take my breath away. I knew it when I saw it.

So, as I read Watchman I jotted down notes:

  • For those who believed Harper Lee’s gift to the literary world, actually world in general, was a one-shot wonder–then this novel proves them wrong. Lee is an amazing craftsman, especially if this was a draft and not a final manuscript.
  • this novel stands on its own merit
  • the shadows of TKAM flit about the periphery, yet are only fireflies of reminiscence and are not needed to provide the illumination to the contents of Maycomb
  • Lee’s writerly brilliance shines in mundane moments, such as the Coffee episode, where she compares the bits of conversational banter to the scales of a piano as she played hostess with refreshments
  • Lee totally had me scrambling on more than one vocabulary word and allusion reference: Asquithian? Arriviste? Childe Rostand?
  • Highlight passages include:
    • “Although it was four hours away, she could hear her aunt’s sniff of disapproval.” (in reference to wearing slacks instead of a dress when arriving to Maycomb)
    • Uncle Jack’s explanation of the Civil War as related to the bubbling pot of politics and social norms being upsided in the South during the fifties/sixties

And this brings me to the SPOILER ALERT

  • There are issues that are still relevant fifty years later which aren’t being fully understood.

Here goes:

Being a Northern girl by way of the Pacific Northwest I am clueless about the South, and from time to time have to get edumacated by the MEPA, who was raised in the South during the fifties and sixties. He doesn’t read TKAM or The Help–he lived it.

One of the biggest concerns about Watchman: Atticus is portrayed as a racist.

This is where I heartily disagree. At one point, Jean Louise, follows her father and almost-fiance into a Council meeting. It’s just short of a Ku Klux Klan gathering. Jean Louise is physically sick that the two men who are most significant in her current life are lapping up racial rantings. Her world is shaken and she just about wipes her feet of Maycomb to leave her childhood home forever. Uncle Jack sets her straight with his quick synopsis of why the South went to war.

The book is powerful in its advocacy of accepting, not just tolerating, people for being people. Jean Louise is so disillusioned by what she sees as her father being a hypocrite she can’t abide looking at him in the face. She realizes she was raised to be color blind, she sees someone, not their race. Powerful stuff.

When she finally has her showdown with her father, she verbally berates him for undoing all that she has learned from him. She upbraids Henry, her hopeful fiance, as well. What she learns, and what Lee provides us, is a peek behind the curtain when it comes to Southern way of thinking. Atticus states he attended a KKK meeting because he wanted to know who was behind the sheets. Henry says he can do more good if he garners the trust of the people who know him. Maycomb is Maycomb. Basically what is being said is the time-honored strategy of getting inside the system to change the system. While it appears as racism to Jean Louise, it’s really savvy coping strategy. 

The MEPA reiterated Henry’s explanation to Jean Louise: to live in a Southern town means getting along with the town, even if comes across as being in alignment with their opinions.

When reading all the negative reactions to the book, I think readers are missing that point. Atticus is not a racist; he is a realist. He sees what the South is and where it needs to go and how it will get there. He still believes in justice, he still believes in equality–he believes in waiting. He is still Atticus. He hasn’t changed. Jean Louise has, and she acknowledges that painful discovery.

Overall, I am impressed with Watchman. It’s a stand alone novel, and I can’t help wonder what would have happened if it had been released earlier, about fifty years earlier. I have thoughts on that, and might expand on what just might be a conspiracy theory.

If you are on the fence about reading Watchman, I suggest you jump down and get a copy and read it for yourself. If you have read it, I hope you will dialogue with me.

Do you believe Atticus comes across as a racist, or is he actually a realist?

Writerly Wisdom: V


Scrolling through all my former posts, I rediscovered a forgotten series I started way back when I first began blogging: quotes from writers.

Here is a quote found in Marja Mills’ The Mockingbird Next Door, a biography on Harper Lee:

p. 80:

[referring to her lifetime habit of reading, which she traces to her family reading aloud to her when young]

Now, 75 years later in an abundant society where people have laptops, cell phones, iPods, and minds like empty rooms, I still plod along with books. Instant information is not for me. I prefer to search library stacks because when I work to learn something, I remember it.

This quote encapsulates my philosophy about the learning process. As a teacher, I encourage students to look up information so that they will better remember it. The brain is a muscle and it needs a workout to stay strong and viable. I use both technology and the library stacks, yet I prefer thumbing through books over scrolling screens any day.

Summer Wonders


Returning school goes beyond getting back into a routine because it means I also have to make adjustments to my practicing for retirement. No more rolling over and going back to sleep, no more schlepping around in jammies, no more naps, no more odd eating hours, or meals for that matter. And worst of all, no more diving into books for an entire day and barely coming up for air. Responsible English teachers don’t partake in any of the above behaviors. At least not during the school year. Yet, summer vacation does allow me to practice the art of retirement and one of those skills is thoroughly enjoying a really good read. I was fortunate this year and enjoyed more than my usual share of good reads:

All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Breathtaking in its flow and style, I absolutely devoured Doerr’s novel about two lost children. Set in WWII, Doerr portrays the war in a way I’ve not encountered before. One perspective is through the blind eyes of Marie, a young French girl whose indomitable spirit carries her beyond the war’s cruelties. The other perspective is that of Werner, a German youth whose talents land him in the Hitler Youth. The parallel stories eventually telescope down to a satisfying denouement. Doerr, already an award-winning author, will do doubt increase his presence with this amazing tale of how the spirit can overcome its surroundings.

Mr. Penumbra’s 24 Hour Book Store by Robin Sloan

Sometimes I simply have to take a break from the pedantic pace of classics, or step away from serious literary excursions. Mr. Penumbra helped me to once again find the wit in wordsmithing. This foray into classic literature name dropping reminds me of Jasper Fford’s Thursday Next series, which is a delight in how it metafictionally pokes fun at how serious we tend to take our literature. Robin Sloan not only lovingly jabs at academia, he embraces our wanderings over to the dark side of technology via Google (those villains). Yet, bad guys (technology) aren’t so bad, once you understand them, and often they prove helpful overall because they are just misunderstood.

Remains of the Day by Kazuo Ishiguro

My first introduction to Ishiguro and of the three novels I read of his over the summer, this one is certainly the best in my opinion. The voice of nationalistic pride and misguided directive is so artfully penned in this memoir of a proper English butler. The bonus being how well the film adaptation captured the slow realization of how corrupted Steven’s outlook was after all.

The Mockingbird Next Door by Marja Mills

As a TKAM devotee I jumped on ordering Mills’s account of her time with Harper Lee faster than freckles popping out during a July heat wave. Lee has become such a recluse over the years it has been feared this national treasure will leave little behind in way of knowing who she really was. Fortunately Marja Mills went beyond her journalistic assignment and got to know Harper Lee as friend and neighbor allowing fans and readers a delightful glimpse into what Scout might have been like in the real.

The Push Cart War by Jean Merrill

This cannot possibly be a kids’ book! The wit is droll in delivery and its lampooning so adroit I don’t see how children could appreciate it fully. Maybe I’m only bereft in my opinion since I missed this one growing up. I think I got sidelined by Encyclopedia Brown. Just like The Phantom Tollbooth or Alice in Wonderland is not strictly for children, neither is Merrill’s classic. I’m ever so glad I found it and I made up for lost time.

The_Pushcart_War_-_cover_image_1964

image: Wikipedia

One Whole and Perfect Day by Judith Clarke. A Printz Honor Award
YA reads are hit and miss for me. There tend to be riveting and noteworthy like Hunger Games and Divergent or fall into high school drama–been there done that and see it everyday. Now and then I do get to pick up a YA which should be in what I call the YA+ category, meaning it’s more towards literary then temporal contemporary (I think it has lasting merit, not trendy, and an adult shouldn’t be embarrassed reading it). Clarke’s novel concerning a girl’s desire to have one day where her family is not dysfunctional fills that YA+ bill. Set in Australia, Lily does indeed have an odd family and what is even more odd is Clarke’s approach to the Point of View–it’s omnipotent, which has fallen out of favor. With almost Dickensian flair for characters and situations, Clarke provides a plot that slowly builds to the becoming a whole and perfect story–pretty nearly.

What’s really the wonder of these summer reads is that they were all recommends found on blogs I perused. Following other Book Boosters definitely has its benefits and I no longer have to forlornly drift the stacks hoping to uncover the newest hot read or find a lost treasure.

How about you?  Any really good reads found and savored over the summer?  Any great recommends discovered while catching up on your blogs?

The Book I Would Like to Write


Sometimes the rumblings of hunger manage to induce some amazing culinary renderings on my behalf.

“Let’s see–some rice, a dollop of pesto, assorted veggies, ooh a garnish of nuts, oh yeah there is that leftover sautéed chicken breast.”

Yes, it was tasty. No, didn’t snap a photo.

I wish I could do that with my writing. Here are the ingredients that are rumbling around in my writerly mixing bowl:
-an irrepressible protagonist who transcends time
-address a political issue in a manner that is neither knee jerk, condescending, nor didactic
-scatter in memorable minor characters who majorly affect the plot
-set the story in a picturesque small town of yesteryear
-provide a handful of quotes that will resonate long after the book has been reviewed, shelved, studied, and reread
-have one maybe two iconic symbols that shift paradigms
-explore old thoughts in a new way
-create a subculture that spans time, culture, and political decorum

Wait a minute…
This book is already available, attainable, and darn right delicious.

Harper Lee’s classic remains my ideal of perfect novel.  I have too many ideas rumbling around to only write one book, but oh what a book to have written as the one-claim-to-fame.
Do you have a ONE book that you feast on as a reader?  Or is there one special book that inspires your writer creativity towards boil, simmer, and serve?

Revisits and Rereads


Cover of "To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Ann...

Cover via Amazon

It’s 5:45 a.m. and I’ve just finished re-reading Mockingjay. I checked it out a couple of days ago partly because I was surprised to see not one, but two copies on the shelf. I cancelled my hold request for Catching Fire as I reached the last chapter of the last book in this series.. How could I return to the middle after witnessing the end of Katniss’s journey?
I usually don’t reread books unless a long interval takes place–at least five years or more. To Kill a Mockingbird is the exception–then again, I teach that one and is less of a re-read than a re-visit at this point.

But let us turn from Mockingbirds back to Mockingjays:

As I eased the last page over and closed the book and suffer from that post traumatic feeling of “book done” I’m glad I’ve reread Mockingjay. The first time through was a done in a frenzy of page turning, and I missed so much. This time I have faces for the characters having watched the movies and the tangled relationships of Katniss take on a deeper meaning now.

It’s much the same when I revisit Scout —Mary Badham‘s freckled pageboy face is superimposed upon Harper Lee’s Scout, as she bildungsromans her way through childhood and racial injustice, let alone Southern discomforts of the 193os.

Someday I will return once again and reread the third and final adventure of Katniss. Although I definitely appreciated the Hunger Games trilogy, I doubt I will actually become as familiar with it as I have with To Kill a Mockingbird. Hmmm, I wonder if there is a connection between my fondness for these two lit ladies, one a Mockingbird and the other a Mockingjay.

Yes, there is: it’s called A Good Story.

So, Book Boosters–while you are dialed in–any novels or books you reread? Or perhaps revisit?

One Shot Authors


Cover of "To Kill a Mockingbird: 50th Ann...

Cover via Amazon

This summer I have pledged to really, really get going on getting my manuscripts out and into the hands of editors, agents, and/or publishers.  It’s time for a published book.  After years of published articles and magazine stories I should be content, but I’m not.  One of my B.I.G. (Before I Get–too old, too tired, too complacent, etc) goals is to be able to walk into a bookstore or a library and find my book on the shelf.  Or better yet, watch someone reading my book while I am on a plane, train, or passing through the library.  I’m not looking for fame or even fortune–truly.  I’m merely looking for shelf status.

Then I start to wonder the “what if”? What if I do get a manuscript published and a novel is born? And what if it is the only book that bears my name?  That can be a disconcerting “what if.”  Who would want to be a one shot author? on the other hand, I would be in good company.  I found this post in a surfing session and it’s so well done I’m reprinting it. Giving credit where credit is due, click on the title to thorughly check it out.

10 Acclaimed Authors Who Only Wrote One Book

1.  Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird: This notoriously reclusive author was terrified of the criticism she felt she would receive for this classic American novel. Of course, the novel didn’t tank and was an immediate bestseller, winning great critical acclaim, including the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1961. While Lee spent several years working on a novel called The Long Goodbye, she eventually abandoned it and has yet to publish anything other than a few essays since her early success and none since 1965.

Cover of "Invisible Man (Modern Library)&...

2. Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man: Invisible Man is Ellison’s best known work, most likely because it was the only novel he ever published during his lifetime and because it won him the National Book Award in 1953. Ellison worked hard to match his earlier success but felt himself stagnating on his next novel that eventually came to encompass well over 2000 pages. It was not until Ellison’s death that this novel was condensed, edited and published under the title Juneteenth.

3. Boris Pasternak, Dr. Zhivago: Pasternak’s inclusion here by no means limits him as a one hit wonder, as he was and is known as one of the greatest poets of the 20th century. But when it came to writing novels, Pasternak was to only create one work, the epic Dr. Zhivago. It was a miracle that even this novel was published, as the manuscript had to be smuggled out of Russia and published abroad. Even when it won Pasternak the Nobel Prize in 1958, he was forced to decline due to pressure from Soviet authorities, lest he be exiled or imprisoned. Pasternak died two years later of lung cancer, never completing another novel.

Cover of "Doctor Zhivago"

Cover of Doctor Zhivago

Cover of "Gone with the Wind"

4. Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind: Margaret Mitchell never wanted to seek out literary success and wrote this expansive work in secret, only sending it to publishers after she was mocked by a colleague who didn’t believe she was capable of writing a novel. She turned out to be more than capable; however, and the book won a Pulitzer and was adapted into one of the best known and loved films of all time. Mitchell would not get a chance to write another novel, as she was struck and killed by a car on her way to the cinema at only 49 years of age.

5. Emily Brontë, Wuthering Heights: As part of a family of women who enjoyed writing, Emily did work on a collection of poetry during her life, though the vast majority of her work was published under a more androgynous pen name at first. While Wuthering Heights received criticism at first for it’s innovative style, it has since become a classic and was edited and republished in 1850 by her sister under her real name. It is entirely possible that Emily may have gone on to create other novels, but her poor health and the harsh climate she lived in shortened her life, and she died at 30 of tuberculosis.

Wuthering Heights (1998 film)

Wuthering Heights (1998 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

6. Anna Sewell, Black Beauty: Sewell didn’t start off her life intending to be a novelist. Indeed, she didn’t begin writing Black Beauty until she was 51 years old, motivated by the need to create a work that encouraged people to treat horses (and humans) humanely, and it took her six years to complete it. Upon publication it was an immediate bestseller, rocketing Sewell into success. Unfortunately, she would not live to enjoy but a little of it as she died from hepatitis five months after her book was released.

English: Cover of the novel Black Beauty, firs...

English: Cover of the novel Black Beauty, first edition 1877, published by London: Jarrold and Sons (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

These represent novels of authors whose work we tend not to associate beyond their books.  There are other writers, like Oscar Wilde and Sylvia Plath, whom we recognize for their other writings, such as poetry, which were spotlighted in the post. I thought how sad it must have been for Margaret Mitchell and Anna Sewell to have only produced one book.  Then again, what about Nelle?  I wouldn’t mind becoming a one shot author if my one lone book would have as much impact as Harper Lee’s has over time.

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