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Writers Born in November

A regular monthly feature by Elaine Henderson featuring noteworthy authors born in this month.

Margaret MitchellWho? Margaret [Munnerlyn] Mitchell, American author and journalist.
When? 8 November 1900
Where? Atlanta, Georgia
Why should I read her work? : Her epic American civil-war era novel, Gone with the Wind, is a seminal work on the period, influenced by first-hand family information and experiences.
Try: Gone with the Wind (1936)
Interesting fact: When Mitchell was incapacitated with an ankle injury her husband, tired of bringing armloads of books back from the library, urged her to write a book herself. The result, Gone with the Wind, is still in print, with over 30 million copies sold worldwide.


George EliotWho?
George Eliot [Mary Ann Evans], English poet, journalist and translator
When? 22 November 1819
Where? Nuneaton, Warwickshire
Why should I read her work? Eliot was a leading Victorian intellectual and writer, notable for her use of realism and her keen psychological insight.
Try: Adam Bede (1859), The Mill on the Floss (1860), Silas Marner (1861), Middlemarch (1872), Daniel Deronda (1876).
Interesting fact: Like the Brontës, Eliot used a male pen name to make sure her work was taken seriously.

 

Louisa May AlcottWho? Louisa May Alcott, American novelist, abolitionist and feminist
When? 29 November 1832
Where? Germantown, Pennsylvania
Why should I read her work? Although generally regarded as novels for older children, Alcott’s Little Women series is loved and appreciated by adults the world over; the books consistently appear in ‘best-loved’ lists and are still widely read and appreciated.
Try: Little Women (1868), Little Men (1871), Jo’s Boys (1886)
Interesting fact: Alcott’s family were ‘Station Masters’ on the ‘Underground Railroad’, a network of safe houses and secret routes helping fugitive slaves to escape.


Robert Louis StevensonWho? Robert Louis [Balfour] Stevenson, Scottish novelist, poet, essayist and travel writer
When? 13 November 1850
Where? Edinburgh
Why should I read his work? A celebrity in his own time, Stevenson was later dismissed as a second rate writer for children and of horror; now, however, he has been acknowledged as a writer of range and insight, the equal of Henry James and Joseph Conrad.
Try: Treasure Island (1883), Kidnapped (1886), Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), The Master of Ballantrae (1889)
Interesting fact: In 1890 Stevenson bought an estate in Samoa and took the native name Tusitala (Teller of Tales); he was much loved and respected by the Samoans who, when he died, wrote a ‘song of grief’ which is still sung today.

 

LewisWho? C[live] S[taples] Lewis, Northern Irish novelist, poet, academic, medievalist, literary critic, essayist, lay theologian broadcaster and lecturer
When? 29 November 1898
Where? Belfast, Northern Ireland
Why should I read his work? Lewis’s work has imagination, depth, universal and enduring appeal; he speaks to the heart.
Try: The Allegory of Love (1936), The Problem of Pain (1940), The Screwtape Letters (1942), The Chronicles of Narnia (7 novels, 1950-1956), Surprised by Joy (1955)
Interesting fact: Now accepted as a Christian writer, Lewis was for many years an atheist and was only reluctantly brought into Christianity ‘kicking, struggling, resentful’.

 

Eden PhillpottsWho? Eden Philpotts, Indian-born English author, poet and dramatist
When? 4 November 1862
Where? Mount Abu, British India
Why should I read his work? Chiefly known for his Dartmoor cycle of 18 novels, Philpotts’s observation and recording of 19th-century Dartmoor life, its people and the landscape are widely admired.
Try: Children of the Mist (1898 and 1923), Sons of the Morning (1900), Widecombe Fair (1913)
Interesting fact: Philpotts was educated in Plymouth and worked as an insurance officer for 10 years before turning to writing.

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