Katherine Mansfield (October 14, 1888 – January 9, 1923), best known for her mastery of the short story form, was born in Wellington, New Zealand as Katherine Mansfield Beauchamp. She’s recognized for revolutionizing the modern English short story.
She enjoyed a comfortable childhood as part of a well-to-do family. A serious student of the cello, she first expected that music would be her career. Still, she found the colonial Edwardian atmosphere stifling and was inspired by rebels like Oscar Wilde. According to her biography, Katherine Mansfield: A Life by Antony Alpers, “she gave early evidence of the impulsiveness, the intensity, the impatience with convention which she would pour into her later life.” Read More→
Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (August 30, 1797 – February 1, 1851) born Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin, was born in London, England and is best known for her classic thriller, Frankenstein. Born to philosopher and political writer William Godwin and famed feminist Mary Wollstonecraft (author of The Vindication of the Rights of Woman), she and her half-sister, Fanny Imlay (Wollstonecraft’s daughter from an affair she had with a soldier) were raised mainly by her father after her mother passed away ten days after giving birth to Mary.
Mary Shelley’s work crossed several genres (essays, biographies, short stories, and dramas) and often contained autobiographical elements.
Maud Hart Lovelace (April 26, 1892 – March 11, 1980) was an American author best known for the Betsy-Tacy series of books for girls. Born and raised in Mankato, Minnesota, she enjoyed a happy childhood filled with friends, culture, and a loving family. She was the middle of three children born to Thomas and Stella (Palmer) Hart. As soon as she could hold a pencil, she began writing stories and poems.
Maud Hart started her college studies at the University of Minnesota but shortly thereafter had to withdraw when she came diagnosed with appendicitis. More than willing to take a break from her studies and continue her recuperation at her maternal grandmother’s home, she escaped to the sun and warmth of California to rest and recover. Read More→
Tillie Olsen (January 14, 1912 – January 1, 2007) was an American author of fiction and nonfiction whose body of work was small but influential, drawing upon her personal experiences. Her work spoke to the struggles of women and working-class families, placing her in the canon of second-wave feminist literature. While her birth was never recorded officially, it’s been determined she was born in either 1912 or 1913.
Born Tillie Lerner in Omaha, Nebraska, she was the second child of Ida Goldberg and Sam Lerner, Russian-Jewish immigrants. Her father, a laborer, was the Secretary of Nebraska’s Socialist party. Her parents’ socialist views and activism impacted Olsen’s childhood and influenced her later life. Read More→
Patricia Highsmith (January 19, 1921 – February 4, 1995) was an American writer known for novels and short stories best described as psychological thrillers. She wove murder, crime, and intrigue through her plots, which were often driven by sociopathic antiheroes.
Born Mary Patricia Plangman in Fort Worth Texas, her parents divorced just days before her birth. She acquired the name Highsmith when her mother remarried a few years later. Recalling her unhappy childhood as “a little hell,” she disliked her mother and stepfather, who argued constantly. Perhaps that figured into her dim view of human nature, as by age eight she was reading studies of mental illness. Finding them fascinating, some of what she learned may have been tucked away for use in her writing.
Highsmith attended Barnard College in New York City, where she majored in English, focusing on playwriting and composition. For some years after graduating, she worked as a scriptwriter for comic books. Read More→