The lovely Jessica at The Entertaining House tagged me to name 15 writers who have had a great influence on me. As an English major in college, there are certainly so many I could name – dozens are floating through my head right now. But, if I had to narrow it down to 15, here they are (in no particular order):
William Butler Yeats – My favorite poet, Mr. Yeats also penned my favorite poem, “When You Are Old.” I wish we had had more time during our visit to Ireland to travel to his home. At least I got to see some of his work and other personal items on display at the Dublin Writers Museum.
Edith Wharton – Ah, Ms. Wharton, you could do no wrong in my eyes. I loved reading about the inner-workings of New York’s elite families and their trials and tribulations. Her eye for detail and describing it fully in print was impeccable.
Harper Lee – What more can be said about such a classic as “To Kill a Mockingbird?”
Robert Penn Warren – “All the King’s Men” is a brilliant piece of literature. He had such a gift for words and character study.
William Shakespeare – In high school, I memorized countless sonnets for English class and read many of his plays. The same goes for college. In fact, I took an entire course on the Bard while at the University of Kentucky. He had a huge influence on my academic career and I can still recite many of his sonnets to this day.
E.B. White – I adored “Charlotte’s Web.” I vividly remember sitting on the circular rug in grade school listening to my teacher read it to us. Such a wonderful book.
Bobbi Ann Mason – I read a great deal of this Kentucky author in college. Some critics call her work “Wal-Mart Realism,” dismissing the stories of middle and working class families, as if they don't have important stories to tell. Not a fair critique at all. Mason is respectful of her characters. They shouldn’t be dismissed in such a way.
Virginia Woolf – “A Room of One’s Own” carries a powerful message for women, not only seeking their own space to create and have solitude, but their own place and standing in the world.
T.S. Eliot – I wrote several papers on “The Wasteland.” In fact, one class I took in college spent half of the semester analyzing this epic poem. I’ve never encountered something that could be interpreted in so many different ways. I still love the part about the Hyacinth girl.
F. Scott Fitzgerald –“The Great Gatsby.” Enough said.
W. Somerset Maugham – I discovered Mr. Maugham later in life, but so glad I finally found him and delved into a number of his works.
Silas House – This Kentucky author writes with such a soulful, mournful, joyful style. I feel so much when I read his work. His characters are full of life, sometimes full of despair, and always full of color. He has great love for Eastern Kentucky – for that region’s eccentricities and complexities, and is a staunch advocate for the environment in that area, especially advocating against mountain top removal.
Gurney Norman – Another great Kentucky writer who has such a skill for the short story. Norman was a professor and the University of Kentucky and later its writer-in-residence. He spoke to a couple of my English classes during my time there. I can still hear his unusual voice – high and twangy (Is that word? If not, it is now).
Louisa May Alcott – I adored “Little Women.” Jo, patterned after Alcott herself, was such a favorite of mine. My tattered copy had a purple cover with an illustration of the four sisters on the front. I wonder what ever happened to that book.
Lucy Maud Montgomery – Like Alcott, Montgomery developed a similar strong-willed character in literature by the name of Anne Shirley. Through her books I became enamored with this red-haired girl and her friends in Avonlea on Prince Edward Island.
There are so many more I could name (like Dr. Seuss!), but I’ll keep it to 15.
So many of you wonderful bloggers have already been tagged in previous posts with this topic, so I won’t name a specific 15 here. But if you haven’t, leave me a comment and name some of the authors who have influenced your life and why. Can’t wait to hear about it!
Images courtesy of Dublin Writers' Museum, Amazon, poetryconnection.com, edithwharton.org, silashouse.net