Baroness Orczy (September 23, 1865 – November 12, 1947) was born Emma (or “Emmuska”) Magdolna Rozália Mária Jozefa Borbála Orczy de Orci in Tarnaörs, Heves County, Hungary. Both her parents had aristocratic ancestry. Her father Felix was a Baron and a composer and her mother, also named Emma, was a Countess and daughter of a member of the Hungarian parliament.
When revolution threatened Hungary in 1868, her parents were forced to flee their homeland and lived at various times in Budapest, Paris, and Brussels until 1880 when the family settled in London. There, Emma studied both art and music. Some of her art works were exhibited at the Royal Academy. Read More→
Françoise Sagan (June 21, 1935 – September 24, 2004) born Françoise Quarez in Cajac, France was a French novelist, playwright, and screenwriter. Her nom de plume was inspired by the Princesse de Sagan, Marcel Proust’s favorite author. She and her siblings were raised in an upper-middle class family in France.
Bonjour Tristesse and the start of a prolific career
After graduating from Paris schools, in 1952 she began her university study at the Sorbonne. Within a year, she began writing Bonjour Tristesse. It was published in 1954, the author only 18 years old. The book was an instant phenomenon, selling hundreds of thousands of copies in a short time. Soon, it was translated into more than a dozen languages. With this distraction, Sagan lost interest in her studies and dropped out.
The success of her first novel was followed closely with Un Certain Sourire (A Certain Smile) in 1956 and Dans un Mois, Dans un An (Those Without Shadows) in 1957. Her works presented romantic storylines with touches of existentialism, and were populated with rich, often dissolute characters. They went on to sell millions of copies worldwide. Read More→
Martha Gellhorn (November 8, 1908 – February 15, 1998) was best known as an American war correspondent, though she was a prolific author of fiction and memoir as well. She was the third wife of American icon Ernest Hemingway. She approved of the former claim to fame —she’s ranked among the top war journalists of the twentieth century — but she didn’t wish to be remembered as one of the several wives of “Papa” Hemingway.
In her incredible 60-year career, she covered nearly every global conflict, from the Spanish Civil War to Vietnam. She reported on virtually every major world conflict that took place during her 60-year career.
Gellhorn was born in St. Louis, Missouri. Her father was Jewish, and her mother was half Jewish. Gellhorn may have been inspired to her activism by her mother, who was a suffragist. She attended Bryn Mawr college for only a year, leaving in 1927 to become a foreign correspondent in Europe. Read More→
Octavia Estelle Butler (June 22, 1947 – February 24, 2006) was an American author of science fiction. In the white male-dominated genre of science fiction, she broke ground not only as a woman, but as an African-American. In her New York Times obituary, she was described as “an internationally acclaimed science fiction writer whose evocative, often troubling novels explore far-reaching issues of race, sex, power, and ultimately, what it meant to be human.”
Born in Pasadena, CA, Butler’s father died when she was an infant. Raised by her single mother, Butler was a painfully shy child, and always exceedingly tall for her age. She also struggled with dyslexia, which made schoolwork a torture. She began to believe that she was, as she put it, “ugly and stupid, clumsy, and socially hopeless.”
Her dyslexia was no barrier to developing a love for books and stories. She started to write her own stories at age ten after begging her mother to get her a Remington typewriter. She was drawn to science fiction magazines like Amazing Stories, whose contents spoke of wondrous possibility and unlimited imagination. Read More→
Grace Metalious (September 8, 1924 – February 25, 1964) was an author remembered for her sensational novel Peyton Place, which caused outrage in the 1950s, but went on to become one of the biggest selling books of all time. Of French-Canadian ancestry, she was born Marie Grace De Repentigny in Manchester, New Hampshire. Her parents separated when she was ten.
At the age of 18 she married George Metalious (1925-2015) who came from a Greek family. and they had three children. After World War II army service, George became a teacher, but Grace wasn’t the perfect faculty wife and displayed rebellious tendencies.
She freely admitted to being a lazy housewife and not a very good mother. More comfortable in denim jeans and shirts, she showed no interest in conforming to the 1950s ideal woman. “I did not like belonging to clubs,” she later wrote. “I did not like being regarded as a freak because I spent time in front of a typewriter instead of a sink. And George did not like my not liking the things I was supposed to like.” Read More→