Author biography

Margaret Landon, author of Anna and the King of Siam

Famed for Anna and the King of Siam (1944), which inspired a variety of adaptations, including the musical “The King and I,” American writer Margaret Landon (September 7, 1903 – December 4, 1993) spent more than a decade studying Siam (now Thailand) and a lifetime writing about it.

Anna and the King of Siam was Margaret Landon’s crowning achievement. It sold over one million copies and has been translated into more than twenty languages. Based on the true story of Anna Leonowens, who served as governess to the King Mongkut, in the 19th century, it introduced Western readers to a world of Asian culture. Read More→

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Maxine Kumin, Prolific American Poet

Maxine Kumin (June 6, 1925 – February 6, 2014) is known primarily as a poet, but she was also a prolific writer of children’s books, fiction, and essays.

She was born Maxine Winokur in the Germantown neighborhood of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Reform Jewish parents. Her father was the largest pawnbroker in the city of Philadelphia; her mother was a socially ambitious woman who loved dressing for nights at the symphony or the theater and discouraged any mannerisms that might, in her view, make her children appear to be immigrants.

Maxine was directed to list her father’s occupation as “broker,” rather than “pawnbroker,” whenever a form required that information. Read More→

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Jean Webster, Author of Daddy-Long-Legs

Jean Webster (July 24, 1876 – June 11, 1916) was an American author best known for her enduring girls’ novel, Daddy-Long-Legs (1912), which was successfully dramatized two years after its publication. Her fiction reveals her dedication to social welfare and her characters often triumph over destitution and injustice.

Born Alice Jane Chandler Webster in Fredonia, New York, the name Jean was acquired later, as a young woman. Her parents, Charles Webster and Annie Moffett Webster, were married in 1875; Alice was their firstborn. Read More→

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Charlotte Lennox, English Novelist, Playwright, and Poet

Charlotte Lennox (c. 1730 – 1804), née Barbara Charlotte Ramsay, was an English novelist, playwright, and poet best remembered for her 1752 novel, The Female Quixote. This introduction to her life and work is excerpted from Killing the Angel: Early Transgressive British Woman Writers by Francis Booth ©2021, reprinted by permission.

Charlotte had a peripatetic early life. Born in Gibraltar, the daughter of a Scottish captain in the British Army, she lived her first ten years in England before moving to Albany in New York, where her father was Lieutenant Governor. 

After her father’s death in 1742, Charlotte remained in New York with her mother until, at age thirteen, she was sent to London to a companion to her aunt. Her aunt, however, seems to have been mentally unstable, so Charlotte became companion to the unmarried courtier Lady Isabella Finch, cousin of the poet Anne Finch, Countess of Winchilsea. Read More→

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Marguerite Yourcenar, Author of Memoirs of Hadrian

Marguerite Antoinette Jeanne Marie Ghislaine Cleenewerck de Crayencour (June 8, 1903  – December 17, 1987) was a French short story writer, novelist and essayist known as Marguerite Yourcenar. Best known for her novel Memoirs of Hadrian, she was the first woman to be elected to the Académie Française.

From the beginning of World War II, she lived in the United States with her partner, the American professor Grace Frick. She took American citizenship and died in Maine at the age of eighty-four. Read More→

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