AuthorsJ. R. R. Tolkien

Wikipedia says,

John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, CBE (3 January 1892 – 2 September 1973) was an English writer, poet, philologist, and university professor, best known as the author of the classic high fantasy works The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion.

He served as the Rawlinson and Bosworth Professor of Anglo-Saxon and Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford, from 1925 to 1945 and Merton Professor of English Language and Literature and Fellow of Merton College, Oxford from 1945 to 1959. He was at one time a close friend of C. S. Lewis—they were both members of the informal literary discussion group known as the Inklings. Tolkien was appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth II on 28 March 1972.

After his father’s death, Tolkien’s son Christopher published a series of works based on his father’s extensive notes and unpublished manuscripts, including The Silmarillion. These, together with The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings form a connected body of tales, poems, fictional histories, invented languages, and literary essays about a fantasy world called Arda, and Middle-earth within it. Between 1951 and 1955, Tolkien applied the term legendarium to the larger part of these writings. While many other authors had published works of fantasy before Tolkien, the great success of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings led directly to a popular resurgence of the genre. This has caused Tolkien to be popularly identified as the “father” of modern fantasy literature—or, more precisely, of high fantasy.

In 2008, The Times ranked him sixth on a list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945″.Forbes ranked him the 5th top-earning “dead celebrity” in 2009.

Tim Taylor

Crooked Cat says,

Tim ‘T.E.’ Taylor was born in Stoke-on-Trent in 1960 and now lives in Meltham, near Huddersfield, with his wife Rosa and daughter Helen.

He studied Classics at Pembroke College, Oxford, and some years later did a PhD in Philosophy at Birkbeck, University of London. He picspent a number of years in the civil service, where he did a wide range of jobs, before leaving in 2011 to spend more time writing. He now divides his time between creative writing, academic research (he has published a book, Knowing What is Good for You, on the philosophy of well-being), and part-time teaching and other work for Leeds and Huddersfield Universities.

As well as fiction, Tim writes poetry, which he often performs on local radio and at open mic nights (where he also plays the guitar).  He is chairperson of Holmfirth Writers’ Group and a member of Colne Valley Writers’ Group.  He also likes walking up hills.

The Link

Tim says, “Tolkien, a Professor of Anglo-Saxon, was a Fellow of Pembroke College, Oxford University from 1925 to 1945. I was an undergraduate at the same College from 1979 to 1983, studying Classics and ‘Greats’ (Philosophy and Ancient History). At the age of 11, I was captivated by The Lord of the Rings to an extent that has never quite been equalled by any of the numerous books I have read and loved since then. I have not tried consciously to emulate Tolkien and have never written fantasy fiction. Nevertheless, I continue to admire Tolkien’s work and recognise that I may have been influenced by some aspects of it in my own writing – such as its epic quality and the rich detail through which Tolkien brings his imagined world to life, with lovingly crafted layers of history, language and culture.”

Authors

Pair 1

Siegfried Sassoon

Wikipedia says,

Siegfried Loraine Sassoon, CBE, MC (8 September 1886 – 1 September 1967) was an eminent English poet, writer, and soldier. Decorated for bravery on the Western Front, he became one of the leading poets of the First World War. His poetry both described the horrors of the trenches, and satirised the patriotic pretensions of those who, in Sassoon’s view, were responsible for a jingoism-fuelled war. He later won acclaim for his prose work, notably his three-volume fictionalised autobiography, collectively known as the “Sherston trilogy”.

Kathy Sharp

Crooked Cat says,

IMG_2396Growing up by the sea in Kent, back in the 1960s, it was Kathy’s ambition to become a writer. Time passed.

She married, moved to west London, and had a daughter. She continued to write, and had a small book or two on countryside and nature subjects published.  She worked for many years as a desktop publisher for Surrey County Council, and as a tutor in adult education.

And then, one day, she visited a friend who had just moved to the Isle of Portland, Dorset, and fell in love with the place. She has now lived in the Weymouth and Portland area for eight years, and still loves it. The wonderful Jurassic Coast, and Portland in particular, were the inspiration for her first novel, Isle of Larus.

Kathy also sings with, and writes lyrics for, the Island Voices Choir on Portland, and is a keen member of local writing groups, as well as enjoying studying the local flora.

The Link

Both authors were born in Kent.

Pair 2

Peter Straub

Wikipedia says,

Peter Francis Straub (born March 2, 1943) is an American author and poet. His horror fiction has received numerous literary honors such as the Bram Stoker Award, World Fantasy Award, and International Horror Guild Award.

Shani Struthers

Crooked Cat says,

Born and bred in the seaside town of Brighton, one of the first literary conundrums Shani had to deal with was her Shani Picown name – Shani can be pronounced in a variety of ways but in this instance it’s Shay-nee not Shar-ney or Shan-ni – although she does indeed know a Shanni – just to confuse matters further!

Hobbies include reading, writing, eating and drinking – all four of which keep her busy enough. After graduating from Sussex University with a degree in English and American Literature, Shani became a freelance copywriter.

Twenty years later, the day job includes crafting novels too. The Haunting of Highdown Hall is her second novel and the first in a series that looks set to get darker!

 The Link

Shani says, “We’ve both got BA English degrees, his 1979 book Ghost Story was one of the first horrors I ever read and kick-started a life-long love of them and he sometimes co-writes with Stephen King, who is my most favourite author of all time!”

AuthorsPeter Robinson

Wikipedia says,

Peter Robinson (born March 17, 1950) is a Canadian crime writer born in Britain. He is best known for his crime novels set in Yorkshire featuring Inspector Alan Banks. He has also published a number of other novels and short stories as well as some poems and two articles on writing.

David Robinson

Crooked Cat says,

David Robinson is the alter ego of cosy crime author, David W Robinson.

A Yorkshireman by birth, David is a retired hypnotherapist and former adult education teacher, now living on the outskirts of Manchester with his wife and crazy Jack Russell called Joe (because he looks like a Joe).

David writes in two distinct genres. As David W Robinson, he produces the light-hearted, cosy crimes of the best-selling Sanford 3rd Age Club mysteries series. Writing as David Robinson, he also turns out much darker material; psychological thrillers such as The Handshaker or Voices which border on sci-fi, paranormal or horror.

A devout follower of Manchester United, when he is not writing, he enjoys photography, cryptic crosswords, and putting together slideshow trailers and podcast readings from his works.

The Link

This is quite surprising. Apart from the common surname, Peter is two months younger than David and they were born about a mile and a half from each other in Leeds. They both write crime fiction. And Peter’s wife is called Sheila, which was also the name of David’s first wife.

David says, “How is that for a series of coincidences? And I promise you I knew nothing about his background until I watched the TV series [DCI Banks] and checked him out.” He also blogged about this link today, here.

AuthorsAmanda Quick

Wikipedia says,

Jayne Ann Krentz, née Jayne Castle (b. March 28, 1948 in Cobb, California, USA), is an American writer of romance novels. Krentz is the author of a string of New York Times bestsellers under seven different pseudonyms. Now, she only uses three names. Under her married name she writes contemporary romantic-suspense. She uses Amanda Quick for her novels of historical romantic-suspense. She uses her maiden name for futuristic/paranormal romantic-suspense writing.

Over 35 million copies of Krentz’s novels are in print. With Sweet Starfire, she created the futuristic romance subgenre, and further expanded the boundaries of the genre in 1996 with Amaryllis, the first paranormal futuristic romantic suspense novel. She is an outspoken advocate for the romance genre and has been the recipient of the Susan Koppelman Award for Feminist Studies.

Sally Quilford

Sally Quilford has been writing since 1995, and since then has had 17 novels published by My Weekly Pocket Novels, People’s Friend Pocket Novels and Ulverscroft (Large Print). Sally writes mainly romantic intrigue, inspired by her love of Alfred Hitchcock films and Agatha Christie novels.

The Link

Both authors write romance and both names are pen names. Amanda Quick, like many others, used different names for different genres. This makes it easier for readers who are looking for a particular genre and expect authors to stick to one genre. I’m not sure it’s usually so necessary, although if a writer wrote both children’s literature and erotica, I think they’d be wise to use different names!

Sally had a different reason for deciding on a pen name: “It helped me to escape into other worlds and to say things that my alter ego, Tracy, dare not. As the years have passed, however, the demarcation lines between Sally and Tracy have blurred, and so I can say for definite that becoming a writer has given me the confidence to find my true ‘voice’.”

AuthorsBeatrix Potter

Wikipedia says,

Beatrix Potter (born Helen Beatrix Potter; 28 July 1866 – 22 December 1943) was an English author, illustrator, natural scientist and conservationist best known for her imaginative children’s books, featuring animals such as those in The Tale of Peter Rabbit, which celebrated the British landscape and country life.

Born into a wealthy Unitarian family, Potter, along with her younger brother Walter Bertram (1872–1918), grew up with few friends outside her large extended family. Her parents were artistic, interested in nature and enjoyed the countryside. As children, Beatrix and Bertram had numerous small animals as pets which they observed closely and drew endlessly. Summer holidays were spent away from London, in Scotland and in the English Lake District where Beatrix developed a love of the natural world which was the subject of her painting from an early age.

She was educated by private governesses until she was 18. Her study of languages, literature, science and history was broad and she was an eager student. Her artistic talents were recognized early. She enjoyed private art lessons, and developed her own style, favouring watercolour. Along with her drawings of her animals, real and imagined, she illustrated insects, fossils, archaeological artefacts, and fungi. In the 1890s her mycological illustrations and research into the reproduction of fungus spores generated interest from the scientific establishment. Following some success illustrating cards and booklets, Potter wrote and illustrated The Tale of Peter Rabbit, publishing it first privately in 1901, and a year later as a small, three-colour illustrated book with Frederick Warne & Co. She became unofficially engaged to her editor Norman Warne in 1905 despite the disapproval of her parents, but he died suddenly a month later of leukemia.

With the proceeds from the books and a legacy from an aunt, Potter bought Hill Top Farm in Near Sawrey, a tiny village in the English Lake District near Windermere, in 1905. Over the following decades, she purchased additional farms to preserve the unique hill country landscape. In 1913, at the age of 47, she married William Heelis, a respected local solicitor from Hawkshead. Potter was also a prize-winning breeder of Herdwick sheep and a prosperous farmer keenly interested in land preservation. She continued to write, illustrate and design spin-off merchandise based on her children’s books for Warne until the duties of land management and her diminishing eyesight made it difficult to continue. Potter published over 23 books: the best known are those written between 1902 and 1922. She died of pneumonia/heart disease on 22 December 1943 at her home in Near Sawrey at age 77, leaving almost all her property to the National Trust. She is credited with preserving much of the land that now comprises the Lake District National Park.

Potter’s books continue to sell throughout the world, in many languages. Her stories have been retold in song, film, ballet and animation. The World of Peter Rabbit and Friends, a TV series based on her stories, has been released on VHS by Pickwick Video and later Carlton Video.

Marta Pelrine-Bacon

(who I have been following for a long time and whose debut novel, The Blue Jar, was released a few months ago.)

Amazon says,

Marta Pelrine-Bacon writes modern fairy tales and makes art from the printed pages of those tales.

Where Marta grew up – on a long stretch of road in central Florida – her father told her a witch lived in the abandoned house under a cluster of punk trees, and moss and hot air balloons carried Santa’s elves overhead. Their own house faced a lake big enough for an island in the middle where blackbirds settled for the sunset. For her, Florida was a perfect place to develop an interest in sharp objects and shadowy places. She says that is why she writes stories with odd twists, turns and edges.

She was born in the Sunshine State. Her maternal grandmother moved there in the 1920s. Her father moved there in 1959. That’s hardly any history at all. Except in Florida, that’s a lot! But she left home at 17 to study English and writing in Indiana, and she followed that with her Master’s Degree from Kent State University. To see something else of the world, she joined the Peace Corps and taught English in Bulgaria for two years. One way or another, she has always written and made art.

According to Marta, she writes because stories well up in her brain. She would go mad if she didn’t let them out. While her past inspires her stories, her stories are not her past, and she is not her characters. Characters come to her in images, and she writes to discover why they are doing what they do.

The Link

Both authors are also accomplished artists and have illustrated their own books.

AuthorsEdna O’Brien

Wikipedia says,

Edna O’Brien (born 15 December 1930) is an Irish novelist, memoirist, playwright, poet and short story writer. She is considered the “doyenne” of Irish literature. Philip Roth considers her “the most gifted woman now writing in English”, while former President of Ireland Mary Robinson regards her as “one of the great creative writers of her generation.”

O’Brien’s works often revolve around the inner feelings of women, and their problems in relating to men, and to society as a whole. Her first novel, The Country Girls, is often credited with breaking silence on sexual matters and social issues during a repressive period in Ireland following World War II. The book was banned, burned and denounced from the pulpit, and O’Brien left Ireland behind.

O’Brien now lives in London. She received the Irish PEN Award in 2001. Saints and Sinners won the 2011 Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, the world’s richest prize for a short story collection. Faber and Faber published her memoir, Country Girl, in 2012.

Michela Sacchi O’Brien

Crooked Cat says,

 Michela O’Brien was born in Milan, Italy, in… well, let’s say some time in the last third of the 20th century. In Milan she grew up, studied, worked as a teacher, made friends and wrote, commending thoughts to page, imagining plots and characters, recording events in her life, noting observations about the world: stories, diaries, letters… In an era before personal computers, internet, blogs and social networks, it was pen and paper and she still carries a notebook and a pencil with her to sketch ideas on the spot.

She moved to England in 1994 and for a while she focused her attention on her new family. Writing was sidelined, until, about ten years ago, she went back to her love for words and wrote a novel, published in Italy, and a series of short stories, all in her native language.

Several people asked her if she would ever consider writing in English, but her standard answer was “I wouldn’t be able to. My English is not good enough.” Then, almost as a joke for some friends, she started writing Like A Rose, her first attempt to produce a piece of writing in English. It was received so well by those who read it that she thought maybe she could do it again.

She wrote two novels, Playing on Cotton Clouds, published in April 2012, and A Summer of Love, released in January 2013. She is currently working on her third novel.

The Link

Apart from the fact that they share a surname, Michela writes, “…she was an ante litteram feminist, which sits well with me, and a couple of her novels (like The Country Girls) are coming of age stories, which again echoes my own work.”

AuthorsToday, two authors who were not easy companions.

Friedrich Nietzsche

Wikipedia says,

Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (15 October 1844 – 25 August 1900) was a German philologist, philosopher, cultural critic, poet and composer. He wrote several critical texts on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy and science, displaying a fondness for metaphor, irony and aphorism.

Nietzsche’s key ideas include the Apollonian/Dionysian dichotomy, perspectivism, the Will to Power, the “death of God”, the Übermensch and eternal recurrence. One of the key tenets of his philosophy is the concept of “life-affirmation,” which embraces the realities of the world in which we live over the idea of a world beyond. It further champions the creative powers of the individual to strive beyond social, cultural, and moral contexts. His radical questioning of the value and objectivity of truth has been the focus of extensive commentary, and his influence remains substantial, particularly in the continental philosophical schools of existentialism, postmodernism, and post-structuralism. His ideas of individual overcoming and transcendence beyond structure and context have had a profound impact on late-twentieth and early-twenty-first century thinkers, who have used these concepts as points of departure in the development of their philosophies.

Nietzsche began his career as a classical philologist — a scholar of Greek and Roman textual criticism — before turning to philosophy. In 1869, at age twenty-four, he was appointed to the Chair of Classical Philology at the University of Basel, the youngest individual to have held this position. He resigned in the summer of 1879 due to health problems that plagued him most of his life. In 1889, at age forty-four, he suffered a collapse and a complete loss of his mental faculties. The breakdown was later ascribed to atypical general paresis due to tertiary syphilis, but this diagnosis has come into question. Re-examination of Nietzsche’s medical evaluation papers show that he almost certainly died of brain cancer. Nietzsche lived his remaining years in the care of his mother until her death in 1897, after which he fell under the care of his sister Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche until his death in 1900.

Here’s the shocking part:

As his caretaker, his sister assumed the roles of curator and editor of Nietzsche’s manuscripts. Förster-Nietzsche was married to a prominent German nationalist and antisemite, Bernhard Förster, and reworked Nietzsche’s unpublished writings to fit her own ideology, often in ways contrary to Nietzsche’s stated opinions, which were strongly and explicitly opposed to antisemitism and nationalism (see Nietzsche’s criticism of antisemitism and nationalism). Through Förster-Nietzsche’s editions, Nietzsche’s name became associated with German militarism and Nazism, although later twentieth-century scholars have counteracted this conception of his ideas.

 V.S.Naipaul

Wikipedia says,

Vidiadhar Surajprasad Naipaul (b. 17 August 1932), is a Trinidad-born Nobel Prize-winning British writer known for the comic early novels of Trinidad, the bleaker later novels of the wider world, and the chronicles of his life and travels.

Naipaul has published more than 30 books, both of fiction and nonfiction, over some 50 years.

Naipaul was married to Patricia Ann Hale from 1955 until her death in 1996. She served as first reader, editor, and critic of his writings. To her Naipaul dedicated his A House for Mr. Biswas.

The Link

As I mentioned, both authors were hard to live with. From the account, it sounds as if Naipaul is very lucky that his late wife, Pat, stayed with him and supported him.

Nietsche broke off relations with a lot of people during his short life. There may have been good reasons for this, but it seems that his strong views made him a difficult person.

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