David Foster Wallace

David-Foster-Wallace

Born: Feb 21, 1962 in Ithaca, New York
Died: Sept 12, 2008 (at age 46) in Claremont, California
Nationality: American
Famous For: Infinite Jest, The Pale King, Brief Interviews with Hideous Men
Awards: Pulitzer Prize nomination in 2012

David Foster Wallace was a novelist, short story author and essayist. He is best known for his second novel, Infinite Jest, which is considered as one of the best English novels by Time magazine. He is known as one of the most influential writers of contemporary America.

Education and Early Years

David Foster Wallace was born on Feb 21, 1962, in Ithaca, NY. He spent his early childhood years in a small town named Philo in central Illinois. Both of his parents were professors. His father, James Wallace, was a professor of philosophy at the University of Illinois, and his mother, Sally Wallace, was an English professor at Parkland College.

Just like any other kid, David was interested in sports, TV, and games. In fact, he was selected as a junior player in the regional tennis team. He graduated from Amherst College after majoring in English and philosophy. He also pursued an MFA in creative writing.

Personal Life

Wallace was fascinated by Mary Karr, the author of the Liar’s Club and other masterpieces. In spite of knowing that Mary is happily married, Wallace pursued her romantically and intellectually. After many failed relationships with women, he met Karen Green, an artist whom he later married.

At the age of 46, David committed suicide in September 2008. It was reported that he was suffering from depression and was on anti-depressants for several years.

Wallace as an Author

David’s first novel was The Broom of the System, the book which gained national fame and acclaim for him. While working as an English professor at Illinois State University, David started working on his epic masterpiece, Infinite Jest, which was published in 1996. Infinite Jest is a multilayered novel in which the emotions of the characters are described in extensive detail. He was awarded a MacArthur Genius Grant in 1997. During the same year, he was also awarded the Aga Khan Prize for Fiction by The Paris Review for one of his works published in the magazine. He also received the Whiting Award, the Lannan Award for fiction, the O. Henry Award and others.

David Wallace continued teaching and publishing short stories and essays in various magazines, including The New Yorker, Harper’s, The Paris Review and Esquire. Some of his famous work includes Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, Consider the Lobster, A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again and several others. In 2004, he published his last collection of short stories, entitled Oblivion.

During his last year, David was working on The Pale King. The unfinished work was completed by Little Brown and Company, and the novel was released in April of 2011. The book was a huge success and received several positive reviews.

Writing Style

Wallace invented a new writing style that blended comedy with sharp, loaded vocabulary from different types of fields. In his books, he used several long explanatory footnotes and endnotes. He was known for his difficult word choices and lengthy demanding sentence structure. He captivated readers with his prose and mesmerized them with his brilliant thoughts.

Douglas Adams

Douglas-Adams

Born: March 11, 1952 in Cambridge, England, United Kingdom
Died: May 11, 2001 (at age 49) in Santa Barbara, California
Nationality: English
Famous For: The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Meaning of Liff, The Deeper Meaning of Liff

Douglas Adams was an English author who was most famous for his series of novels, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. This, in fact, began life as a radio serial, only later making the transition to print. Adams also wrote an unfinished series of humorous detective novels starring Dirk Gently, as well as several scripts for Doctor Who. He was a strong supporter of environmental causes, in particular the conservation of the endangered mountain gorilla. Adams lived just long enough to see some of the ideas he had used in The Hitchhiker’s Guide become reality with the advent of the internet.

Early Life

Adams was born in Cambridge in March 1952, and was educated at a boarding school in Brentwood. He quickly showed his talent for creative writing. Upon leaving school, he was accepted into Cambridge University to study English Literature. Here, he joined the Footlights comedy drama troupe, which later provided a number of stalwarts of British comic talent including many of the team behind Monty Python’s Flying Circus. Adams himself took a slightly different route, and although he had bit parts in Monty Python, he preferred to concentrate on his writing.

Adams as an Author

Despite having achieved his degree, albeit with some difficulty due to his lifelong habit of being late with work, Adams initially struggled for recognition and money. In the spring of 1978, however, the BBC produced The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy as a weekly radio serial. It caught the public imagination, and a second series followed two years later.

The shows were re-edited to produce a novel, which was also a success, as was its sequel: The Restaurant at the End of the Universe. Although always advertised as a trilogy, Adams eventually wrote five books in the series, with a sixth being written by Eoin Colfer after Adams’ death.

Other Works

As he grew older, Adams became increasingly convinced of the importance of conservation work, and he undertook several trips to Madagascar with a friend in the 1980s and 1990s. These trips inspired a work of non-fiction, Last Chance to See, which was also turned into a radio series.

Meanwhile, Adams was trying his hand at writing comedy drama outside the Hitchhiker’s universe with the 1987 publication of Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency. A sequel followed a year later, The Long Dark Tea-Time of the Soul, taking its title from a throwaway line in the Hitchhiker’s books, although the two series did not overlap.

Adams’ Later Years

He was also very interested in new technology, becoming a pioneer in the use of email and what would later become known as blogging. Taking quickly to the new possibilities offered by the popularization of the internet, he wrote about his variety of interests, which ranged from guitars to atheism.

Adams was the first Briton to purchase an Apple Macintosh, and remained a staunch supporter of Apple for the rest of his life. He died suddenly of a heart attack at age 49 on May 11, 2001. A collection of his unfinished and unpublished works, The Salmon of Doubt, was published a year later.

Dr. Seuss

Dr-Seuss

Born: March 2, 1904 in Springfield, Massachusetts
Died: Sept 24, 1991 (at age 87) in La Jolla, California
Nationality: American
Famous For: Horton Hears a Who!, The Cat in the Hat, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

The work of Dr. Seuss can be described as cleverly spiced up catchy rhymes, imaginative characters, and brilliant illustrations that mimic the environment in which he was brought up. But as the prefix to his name suggests that he was a qualified physician, he never was. It was just a crafty way to lend credibility to his artistic characters.

Early Life

Theodor Seuss Geisel was born in Springfield, Massachusetts, to Theodor Robert and Henrietta Seuss Geisel. His mom is always credited for the rhymes Seuss had used all over his books and she was also well known for driving children into sleep with her relaxing chants. Although Dr. Seuss was born into a wealthy family, the situation was offset by the commencement of World War I that presented hard economic times for the German immigrants.

College Years

At the age of 18, Seuss attended Dartmouth College and become the chief editor for the humor magazine entitled Dartmouth Jack-O-Lantern. He never held the position for long as he was caught drunk with friends in the dorm room in a night when Prohibition had been in effect. He did, however, continue to contribute anonymous bits of articles in the magazine using the pseudonym ‘Seuss.’

He later joined Oxford University to accomplish his father’s wish of becoming a university professor. While there he encountered Helen Palmer, whom he married in 1927 – the same year he dropped out of school.

Writing Career

The couple moved back to the United States and Geisel decided to do full-time cartooning. Most of his articles and illustrations were published in Vanity Fair and Life magazine. He later joined Standard Oil Company in the advertising department and spent over 15 years there. He even became famous for a commercial advert on Flit insecticide. During this time, he came up with his first book, And to Think That I saw It on Mulberry Street, which was rejected 27 times before a final acceptance by Vanguard Press in 1937.

His love for artwork saw him issue political cartoons every week in the PM magazine. As World War II materialized, Seuss felt the urge to contribute to the raging effort apart from the skillful illustrations he had. He settled in Hollywood to do animation for Capra’s army unit and was once rescued from the line of fire when presenting his animated works to the generals.

After the war, the Geisel were working for Life magazine and took trips to Japan to further explore diverse cultures. In the years following WWII, Dr. Seuss worked far and deep in children’s books.

It was during this time when he wrote classics such as If I Ran the Zoo (1950), Horton Hears a Who (1955), and potentially his most well-known children’s book, 1957’s The Cat in the Hat. He followed these up with How the Grinch Stole Christmas, Green Eggs and Ham, and many more.

Geisel married Audrey Stone Diamond after his wife passed away in 1967. He continually produced films and books every other year until his death on September 24, 1991, in La Jolla, California.

Edgar Allan Poe

EGP2

Born: Jan 19, 1809 in Boston, Massachusetts
Died: Oct 7, 1849 (at age 40) in Baltimore, Maryland
Nationality: American
Famous For: The Raven, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Pit and The Pendulum

Edgar Allan Poe is a legendary author known for both his mesmerizing horror and mystery tales and for his mysterious death. Poe was a visionary writer from the age of the American Romance period. His haunting material is still the subject of study and entertainment to this very day.

Edgar Allan Poe’s Early Days

Edgar Allan Poe was born in Boston in 1809. His mother died not long after he was born and his father abandoned him in the aftermath of her passing. He was informally adopted by the Allan family of Virginia (his birth name was Poe). Poe became a student at the University of Virginia, but he left when he did not have enough funds to continue. The next step in his education was enrolling as a cadet at West Point, but this resulted in being expelled.

The Beginning of Poe’s Writing Career

In 1827, Poe began his writing career when he published a collection entitled Tamerlane and Other Poems. He published the work anonymously.

In the following years, however, he invested a great deal of time publishing more writing. This was not of the fiction variety though. He routinely wrote literary criticism for a number of journals and newspapers. Perhaps it was during this stint as a prose writer that Poe’s ability to capture the command of the English language as well as learn what elements contribute to quality fiction.

In 1833, Poe published the brilliant short story MS. Found in a Bottle and this led to him procuring an assistant editor job for the Southern Literary Messenger of Richmond, VA. Poe continued publishing scores of excellent horror tales including The Tell Tale Heart, Hop Frog, The Masque of the Red Death, The Fall of the House of Usher, and more. In 1839, a two-volume collection of his work was published. It was not, however, a huge seller.

Poe Achieves Fame

In 1845, Poe published his most famous poem – The Raven. The eeriness of this poem was far removed from what readers were familiar with during the era. With The Raven, the foundation began for the future, darker works by others wishing to capture the themes of the author.

Probably the most influential work Poe published was The Murders in the Rue Morgue, a bizarre tale of a murderous ape. The great achievement of this work would be that it established many of the conventions of the detective genre.

The Death of Edgar Allan Poe

Much has been written about the death of this legendary author because it occurred under mysterious circumstances. In October of 1849, Poe was found wandering delirious in the streets of Baltimore. He was taken to a hospital where he died. All medical records and death certificates have been lost. Speculation about how he died has gone on for years. It has been assumed that he died of a drug overdose, a mugging, tuberculosis, or any other demise that fits a narrative dreamed up about him.

Ernest Hemingway

Ernest_Hemingway

Born: July 21, 1899 in Oak Park, Illinois
Died: July 2, 1961 (at age 61) in Ketchum, Idaho
Nationality: American
Famous For: The Old Man and the Sea, The Sun also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls
Awards: Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, Nobel Prize in Literature

Ernest Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899, in Oak Park, Illinois, a Chicago suburb. He lived a life of adventure and became one of the most influential authors of fiction during the 20th century. Most of his writing was done between 1925 and 1955. His total collection includes seven novels, six short stories, and two works of non-fiction.

Hemingway’s Early Years

Ernest Hemingway was raised in his birthplace of Oak Park, IL. His father was a doctor and his mother was a musician. It was his dad who instilled his sense of adventure and a fondness for the outdoors during their many hunting and fishing trips.

Hemingway was a boxer and football player in high school. He was also an excellent English student and a member of the school band. He was also a frequent contributor to his school’s newspaper. With no true aspirations to attend college, Hemingway took a job as a cub reporter for the Kansas City Star in 1917. Subsequently, he returned to Chicago and also lived in Toronto and Michigan for a time while in his 20s.

War Years

In 1918, Ernest heeded a call for ambulance drivers in Italy during World War I. He suffered severe wounds as the result of mortar fire and spent six months in a Milan hospital recuperating. After recovering, he returned to the U.S.

As a reporter for the North American Newspaper Alliance, he travelled to Spain in 1937 to file reports on the Spanish Civil War. He wrote the only play of his career, The Fifth Column, during a period when Madrid was being bombarded. Hemingway was present at the Battle of the Ebro and was one of the last journalists to depart the fighting.

Hemingway again entered a war zone when he was present at the Normandy landing during World War II. He was then a part of the liberation of Paris towards the war’s end.

Hemingway’s Wartime Influence

His wartime experiences led to many of the books he wrote, including A Farewell to Arms. Hemingway’s first novel was The Sun Also Rises, which was published in 1926 following his relocation to Paris as a foreign correspondent. For Whom the Bell Tolls was completed in 1939 and was based on his experiences as a journalist covering the Spanish Civil War (1936-1939).

In 1952, Hemingway went to a safari in Africa where he was involved in two plane crashes. While surviving both, they altered his physical well-being for the rest of his life. In 1959, he purchased a home in the remote regions of Ketchum, Idaho, where he would die of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to his head in 1961 at the age of 61.

Popular Works

Ernest Hemingway received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. Among his most renowned works are:

The Sun Also Rises, written in 1926, was primarily about bullfighting in Pamploma, Spain.

A Farewell to Arms, a 1929 novel depicting the Italian involvement in World War I.

For Whom the Bell Tolls, which was published in 1940 describing the journey of a young American and his exploits during the Spanish Civil War.

The Old Man and the Sea was the last work of fiction published during Hemingway’s lifetime. This is the story of an aged fisherman and his own epic battle with a giant marlin in a remote section of the Gulf Stream.

Ernest Hemingway established residences in Key West, Fl. in the 1930’s and Cuba during the 1940’s and 1950’s.

He was married 4 times and had 3 sons.

Fernando Pessoa

Fernando-pessoa1

Born: June 13, 1888 in Lisbon, Portugal
Died: Nov 30, 1935 (at age 47) in Lisbon, Portugal
Nationality: Portuguese
Famous For: The Book of Disquiet, Message
Awards: Queen Victoria Prize (1903), Antero de Quental Award (1934)

Fernando Pessoa was a Portuguese writer, poet, literacy critic, publisher, translator and philosopher. He is described as one of the most significant literary figures of the 20th century and also one of the greatest poets of the Portuguese language.

Early Life

Fernando Pessoa was born on June 13, 1888, in Lisbon, Portugal. At the age of five, his father died of tuberculosis and the following year his younger brother also died. In 1895, his mother remarried and he and his mother went to South Africa to join his stepfather. Pessoa received his early education at St. Joseph Convent School.

In 1899, Pessoa moved to Durban High School where he became fluent in English and developed an interest in English literature. While preparing to join the university, he attended the Durban Commercial School where he wrote short stories in English.

He published his first poem at the age of 16 in 1904. As from June 1905, in the section, The Man in the Moon, at least four sonnets by Fernando Pessoa were published by The Natal Mercury. The poems included: Joseph Chamberlain, To England 1, To England 11, and Liberty. All these poems were varied humorous versions of Anon as the name of the author.

Pessoa’s Life in Lisbon

Pessoa left Durban for good at the age of 17 and went to live in Lisbon while his family remained in South Africa. He joined college to study diplomacy in 1905. After two years of poor results and illness, he ended his studies. In 1907, his grandmother died and left him a small inheritance. He used this inheritance to start his own publishing house. However, this venture was not successful and closed down in 1910.

In 1912, Fernando entered the literary world with a critical essay that was published in the cultural journal A Aguia. He also founded Athena between 1924 and 1925. This is where he published much of his poetry. He was also a freelance commercial translator and a literary critic who contributed to different journals and magazines.

Literature and Occultism

Fernando Pessoa translated Portuguese books and poems into English. While living with his aunt, he developed an interest in spiritualism; this was awakened in the second half of 1915, while he was translating theosophist books.

Pessoa also developed a strong interest in astrology. He became a competent astrologist and he elaborated more that 1,500 astrological charts of famous people such as Oscar Wilde, William Shakespeare, Napoleon and Chopin.

Writing Career

In his early years, Pessoa was influenced by poets such as Milton, Spenser, and Shakespeare and romantics such as Shelley, Keats, Byron and Tennyson. While in Lisbon, he was influenced by French symbolists like Maurice Rollinat, Stephane Mallarme and Charles Baudelaire.

During the First World War, he wrote to several British publishers so as to print his collection of English verse, The Mad Fiddler. However, this was refused and in 1918, he published two slim volumes of English Verse; 35 Sonnets and Antinous. With the help of his friends, he also founded another publishing house called Olisipo.

Pessoa never left Lisbon and he spent the rest of his life moving from one part of Lisbon to writing and also publishing his works. Fernando Pessoa died on November 31, 1935, at the age of 47 in Lisbon, Portugal.

Franz Kafka

Kafka_

Born: July 3, 1883 in Prague, Bohemia, Austria-Hungary
Died: June 3, 1924 (at age 40) in Klosterneuburg, Lower Austria, Austria
Nationality: Austrian-Hungarian
Famous For: The Metamorphosis, The Trial, The Penal Colony

Frank Kafka was a German writer of short stories and novels. He is regarded as among the most influential writers of 20th century. He strongly influenced genres like existentialism with the ideas and themes of many of his short stories and works.

Early Life

Franz was born in a middle-class, German-speaking family in Prague, the capital of Bohemia. He was the eldest of six children of Jacob Kafka, a butcher. On business days, Franz’s parents were always absent from home as his mother helped to manage her husband’s business.

Kafka’s Education

Franz Kafka learned German as his first language, but he was also quite fluent in Czech. After a while, he also learned the French language and culture. Between 1889 and 1893, he attended Deutsche Knabenschule, a boy’s elementary school at Fleischmark. His Jewish education was limited to his Bar-Mitzvah celebration at age 13 and going to the synagogue four times a year with his father.

After elementary school, Kafka was admitted to a classics-oriented state gymnasium, Altstadter Deutsches Gymnasium. Here, German was the main language of the institution. Franz completed his Matura examinations in 1901.

He was then admitted to Charles University of Prague. Initially he studied chemistry, but later switched to law just after two weeks. This offered him a wide range of career choices. He then decided to join a student club which organized some literary events, reading, and other activities. In 1906, Frank Kafka obtained his degree of the Doctor of Law.

Writing Career

On November 1, 1907, Kafka was hired by an Italian company where he remained for one year. This work took much of his time and he was left with very little time to concentrate on the writing. A few months later, he resigned and got another job.

All of Kafka’s published works, except for a few letters that he had written in Czech, were written in German. He never finished any full-length novels and he even burned about 90 % of his works.

His earliest publications were some eight stories which later appeared in 1908 in the first issue of a literary journal Hyperion entitled Contemplation. He wrote another story, Description of a Struggle, in 1904. He showed this to his friend, Brod, in 1905 who then advised him to just continue with his writing.
In 1912, he wrote Das Urteil, which he dedicated to Felice Bauer. This story is considered Kafka’s breakthrough work.

Kafka as a Novelist

Kafka began writing his first novel in 1912. He called his first work Der Verschollene, but it remained unfinished. After his death, however, Brod published it and named the novel Amerika. In 1914, he started working on another novel – The Trail. Kafka never completed this novel, although he just finished the last chapter.

According to one of his diaries, Franz was already planning to write his novel The Castle by 1914. However, he only began writing it in January of 1922.

Legacy and Death

Franz Kafka suffered laryngeal tuberculosis and towards March of 1924, his condition had worsened. He died on April 3, 1924, in Prague.

Kafka left all his work, unpublished and published, to his good friend and also literary executor, Max Brod. He left instructions that all these should be destroyed upon his death. Brod ignored the request and he decided to publish some novels and other works between 1925 and 1935.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

Francis_Scott_Fitzgerald

Born: Sept 24, 1896 in St. Paul, Minnesota
Died: Dec 21, 1940 (at age 44) in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California
Nationality: American
Famous For: The Great Gatsby, The Beautiful and Damned

F. Scott Fitzgerald was a renowned American writer who is best known for his novel The Great Gatsby, as well as other novels that he wrote in the Jazz Age. He based his novel Tender is the Night on his wife and her bouts with mental illness. This famous author struggled with his alcoholic addiction most of his adult life.

Early Years

Fitzgerald was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, in September of 1896. He is of Irish descent and his parents were children of Irish immigrants. His father had been a salesman and manufacturer. Fitzgerald went to the St. Paul Academy as a child. He also went to the Newman School from 1911 to 1913. After graduation from there, he enrolled in Princeton University in 1913.

His writing pursuits interfered with his academic courses at Princeton. He was put on academic probation, and later in 1917, Fitzgerald dropped out of the university to join the army. Before reporting to the army he wrote The Romantic Egotist. His work was rejected by several publishers, but one told him to submit more work because he did have writing talent.

Army Career

Fitzgerald became a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army’s infantry and was sent to Camp Sheridan, near Montgomery, Alabama. He met and soon fell in love with Zelda Sayre, the daughter of one of Alabama’s Supreme Court justices. Fitzgerald was never deployed during World War I, and after he left the army, he relocated to New York City. He hoped to begin an advertising career. Before long he found work at the Barron Collier, an advertising agency.

Fitzgerald’s Marriage and Writing

During this time, he wrote This Side of Paradise, which was a semi-autobiographical about the years he spent at Princeton. The novel was accepted by a publisher (Scribner) in the autumn of 1919. After the novel was published in March of 1920, it became very popular and sold well.

Fitzgerald married Zelda in New York at St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Their only child, a daughter, Frances, was born the following year. In 1930, Zelda experienced her first schizophrenic attack. Her physical and emotional health continued to be fragile for the remainder of her life. The couple split up many times during their marriage. She passed away in 1948.

Later Career

Fitzgerald wrote many short stories for magazines such as Collier’s Weekly, Esquire and The Saturday Evening Post. He wrote a few more novels, The Beautiful and Damned, Tender Is the Night, and in 1925, his most famous work, The Great Gatsby.

In 1937, Fitzgerald went to Hollywood to write screenplays for MGM. In 1939, his contract with MGM ended, and he became a freelance screenwriter. By this time in his life, he was estranged from his wife and struggling with alcoholism. He was also having an affair with Sheilah Graham, a Hollywood gossip columnist.

Fiztgerald’s Death and Legacy

He experienced two heart attacks during the late 1930s. In December of 1940, Fitzgerald died of a heart attack when he was 44 years old. Many famous writers have said F. Scott Fitzgerald had inspired them to write. His books, especially The Great Gatsby, have sold millions of copies and for many schools this well-known novel is required reading.

George Orwell

George_Orwell

Born: June 25, 1903 in Motihari, Bengal Presidency, British India
Died: Jan 21, 1950 (at age 46) in University College Hospital, London, England, United Kingdom
Nationality: English
Famous For: Animal Farm, Nineteen Eighty-Four

George Orwell was an English novelist who also worked in journalism. Using a pen name rather than his real name of Eric Arthur Blair, he created several classics of 20th century English literature. His two most famous works are the 1945 Animal Farm, an allegorical tale of an animal revolt, and Nineteen Eighty-Four, a dystopian vision of a war-torn and totalitarian future Britain. He also served in the Spanish Civil War, writing a celebrated account of his time fighting against Franco’s fascist forces.

Orwell’s Younger Years

Orwell was born in the Indian state of Bengal, but was sent to Eton to be educated. In his late teens, he went to Burma to serve in the Indian Imperial Police. This time made him increasingly disillusioned with the British Empire, and he resigned after five years. Moving to France, his trials as a hard-up writer helped to inspire his first book, 1933’s Down and Out in Paris and London. Several novels followed, with 1936’s Keep the Aspidistra Flying being remembered today.

In 1936, Victor Gollancz commissioned Orwell to write about unemployment in northern England. The resulting work, The Road to Wigan Pier, was quickly accepted as a classic of literary journalism. Orwell was by now firmly socialist in his beliefs, although he had little time for classical Marxism. He believed that the greatest evils in politics were cynicism, dishonesty, and the abuse of power. It was in this spirit that he decided to travel to Spain in late 1936 to report on its Civil War.

Time in Spain and England

Although going as a journalist, Orwell became convinced of the rightness of the Republican cause and enlisted in the army of resistance. By 1937, he was on the front line at Aragón, as well as being present for the May Riots in Barcelona. He was wounded in the neck by a sniper early that summer, an injury which left him partially paralyzed. During his recuperation, he was told that his Workers Party had been outlawed by the communists, leaving him in mortal danger. The British Consul’s help was enlisted in facilitating Orwell’s escape to France.

Orwell’s time in Spain became the subject of 1938’s Homage to Catalonia, in which he castigated both right and left-wing papers for their propaganda. The book was a commercial failure, selling a mere 1500 copies in more than a decade and only establishing itself as a classic after Orwell’s death. During World War Two, Orwell worked for the BBC and a British newspaper, The Observer, before joining the left-wing Tribune in 1943. He adopted a strong campaigning stance in his columns for Tribune, his clear style making him ideally suited for the job.

Orwell’s Later Life

Orwell’s Animal Farm satirized the Russian Revolution. Victor Gollancz turned the book down, allegedly because he disliked its attack on elements of communism. Penguin took it on, and it became a bestseller. By the late 1940s, Orwell was increasingly ill and unhappy with what he saw as the lack of radicalism in Clement Attlee’s Labour government.

His last novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four, was published in 1949 and became a staple of dystopian culture, with terms such as “doublethink” and “Thought Police” being widely adopted. Orwell died in 1950, having suffered from tuberculosis.

George R.R. Martin

George-RR-Martin

Born: Sept 20, 1948 in Bayonne, New Jersey
Nationality: American
Famous For: A Song of Ice and Fire
Awards: 2012 World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, “Blood of the Dragon” 1997 Hugo Award for Best Novella

George R.R. Martin remains a successful science-fiction and fantasy author of the past 25 years. Unlike many of his peers, Martin has been able to cross over into mainstream success. Time Magazine even placed him on the 2011 list for the most influential people in the world.

Early Years

George R.R. Martin grew up in a very poor neighborhood in Bayonne, New Jersey, not far from New York City. He had very little money and found escape on early 1950s science-fiction television programming. Martin was inspired by comic books and television and began to write his own fantasy works. In his own words, he noted that since he was not able to visit anyplace outside of the confines of the projects he lived in, he would write exotic tales that took place in far off mystical realms and sell them to neighborhood kids for a nickel.

Martin Becomes a Writer

Martin was a frequent letter writer to Marvel Comics as a young man. When his letters were published in the comics, other fans would write to him and this is how he started his connection with other fans. There were quite a number of crude fanzines written during the heyday of Marvel and Martin contributed quite a bit of fiction to them.

In 1970, Martin sold his first commercial story to a major magazine. The Hero was published in Galaxy Magazine. He continued to write quite a bit of fiction for magazines and, in 1973, was nominated for a Hugo Award for With Morning Comes Mistfall.

Other Works

Martin published three successful novels, but his 1983 offering, The Armageddon Rag, was a huge failure and destroyed his writing career. He had to leave writing behind for a while and explore television work. He ended up as a story consultant on the New Twilight Zone series. Soon after, he became a successful producer of the Beauty and the Beast TV series.

Martin still explored the print medium with Wildcards, which was based on his role playing adventures. Wildcards was a series on which Martin served as an editor. The short stories revolved around a virus that turns many human beings into super heroes and villains. The universe they lived in, however, was a very real world in scope and did not embody the simplicity of most traditional comic book works.

The Game of Thrones

Martin is well known to most people thanks to the HBO television series Game of Thrones. While the series may have given him mainstream success, he had been writing novels and short stories for many years. The first book in the A Song of Ice and Fire series was titled Game of Thrones and it was published in 1995. Martin plans to write a full seven books to finish out the series with the final entries to be released in the near future.

Current Projects

Currently, Martin is working on the new A Song of Ice and Fire book and preparing for the next season of Game of Thrones. He also speaks publicly at engagements all over the world.