When you are cold in the room and huddle under the blanket, it is time to read Tolstoy. When you are stressed after a hard day at work, it is a perfect time to read «Dandelion Wine». When you are in a search of inspiration, it is time to read “Steal like an Artist”. When you do not know what to read, it is time to look for the answer in this article. Papercheap.co.uk experts are going to provide you with the list of famous American writers who shook the world. They know how to hit a nerve, make you cry and laugh at the same time, how to scare us and feel the moment when the ground falls out from beneath our feet.
If you are looking for the greatest writers of all time or famous essay writers, here they are.
Famous American Authors of the 20th Century
The start of the 20th century was an exciting time in America as the Industrial Revolution gave way to more modern era. How did it affect the writing sphere? Let us dive into the list of the most famous American writers of the 20th century.
Willa Cather: Famous Books or Famous Letters?
She wrote some of the most memorable fiction of the 20th century and hundreds of letters every American needs to read. In one of them, she said: “I’ve cared too much about people and places. It made me, as a writer. But it’ll break me in the end”. We all know her for “The Song of the Lark”, but was she famous for her books or her letters? What is inside Willa Cather’s stories?
Her childhood home in Red Cloud sits on a quiet street once filled with noise and excitement. Here she wrote her first known letter to a prominent citizen and her first story which was published in McClure’s. Was she really famous American writer? Let us just say that her very first novel “Alexander’s Bridge” was praised by the New York Times for the dramatic situations and the clever conversations. Willa Cather was so connected in such an interesting time and place that by reading her stories, you are getting a view into her whole world. It is very hard to project yourself back in time. We can read history, we can learn about it but it is still about it. But when you read her books you feel the old-time floor, you can feel it right under your feet, you feel the smell of wood. The talent to give the sense of presence is what she is famous for. She tried to get a sense of this bigger world out there that she is going to go after.
The publication of the selected letters of Willa Cather made news across America. In her will, she expressly forbids publishing or even quoting from her letters. One of them is a primary piece of evidence that she was oriented toward loving women. She said, “it is so unfair that friendships between women should be labeled unnatural”. So, she knew what she is talking about.
In 1925, this writer received a surprising letter from S. Fitzgerald. His novel “The Great Gatsby” had just been published and he was afraid he had unconsciously stolen his Daisy character from her heroine in a “Lost Lady”. Cather was the famous American writer by then. Author of “O Pioneers”, “The Song of the Lark”, “My Antonia” (her greatest triumph). And she had just won the Pulitzer Prize for a war novel. No romantic novel ever written in America is half so beautiful as “My Antonia”.
F. Scott Fitzgerald: Is “Great Gatsby” Made Him Famous?
He is a glittering American icon of the roaring twenties. Fitzgerald’s rise and fall were dramatic. But as he once wrote, “Give me a hero and I will write you a tragedy”. It was the story of a great American dreamer.
Like many Americans born near the turn of the century, Francis Fitzgerald had great hopes and aspirations. He wanted to be a rich and famous American writer admired the world over. This was a big goal for a little Irish Catholic boy. While “The Great Gatsby” was written in the 20s, today it is more relevant than ever. Recapturing youth and obsession with nostalgia is everywhere, especially in pop culture. So, when did he start to work on that masterpiece?
In July 1924, Fitzgerald settled down in Europe and began working in earnest on the famous “The Great Gatsby”. If you read his writing, you get the sense that he wrote in the same way the birds sing. It may seem it came to him very naturally. But that is not true. His first drafts are often undistinguished and it was only through that laborious revision and the testing of the prose again and again. Fitzgerald incorporated his own yearnings and lost hopes into the Great Gatsby (everyone knows the story of love between him and Zelda). He was deeply disappointed when it failed to sell as well as his first two novels. Just two weeks after the “The Great Gatsby” was published, the famous (in the future) writer was sitting in the bar in Paris when he met another up-and-coming American writer named Ernest Hemingway. He understood that it is time to move on.
Throughout the difficult time (drinking problems and depression), the famous writer had been struggling with his fourth novel “Tender is the night”. A book he spent 9 years writing and revised 17 times. The final version was made into a movie in 1962. The story was about the American psychiatrist who marries one of his patients, the very wealthy but mentally disturbed. He was counting on “Tender is the night” to restore his reputation and his bank account. It was not meant to be. It was the 1930s, the Depression had hit. Americans were not interested so much in hearing about parties and rich life because most of them could not get a square meal. So, the subject matter was a little outdated.
Even at this low point, American writer used his pain as inspiration and continued to reflect his own life in the work. In 1936, he wrote the “Crack up”, a startling three-part series that ran in Esquire magazine in which he announced to the world that he was emotionally bankrupt. When he hit the rock bottom, Fitzgerald got an offer to work as a screenwriter, he was ready to take on Hollywood. It also had not worked out and famous American writer started working on his last book “The Last Tycoon”. Fitzgerald, the man who came to symbolize the Jazz Age with its celebration of youth was dead at the age of 44.
The price for doing professional work was extremely high. You have got to sell your heart, your strongest reactions. All the time Fitzgerald had been doing just that – using his life as material for his fiction. In the 1950s the readers rediscovered his books and critics began to rank Fitzgerald among the best American writers of his generation. Unfortunately, he is an example of the famous American writer who happened to have the misfortune to taste the success. But he believed in the green light and we hope it never goes out.
Ernest Hemingway: Famous American Writer with the Soul of the Old Man
Who was Hemingway? Born in Illinois, famous American writer was brought up in the upper-middle-class family. He pursued fishing, hunting, journalism, boxing, bullfights, and football. He enlisted in the Italian Ambulance Corps, was the first American wounded on the Italian Front and had 54 pieces of shrapnel in his knee.
He wrote about Paris and Spain in “The Sun also rises” and about the Great War in “A Farewell to Arms”. He covered Spanish Civil War in “For whom the bell tolls” and afterward suffered post-traumatic stress disorder. After buying his boat, he had four world records in big-game fishing and wrote “The Old Man and the Sea”. He was not a good father. He died by suicide after winning the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Hemingway learned to perform masculinity. The famous American writer created a manufactured image which told the viewer that he was living life to the fullest, that he was living an authentic life and you, sitting at home, perhaps, were not. Thus, with all that is so problematic about Hemingway, why do we still consider him among the most famous American writers of the 20th century? We suppose the answer lies in “A Farewell to Arms” in which he showed us how the war has disrupted the natural cycles, how everything is elementally connected. Here we have soldiers marching, we have the water flowing, we have the dust rising, we have the leaves falling.
In giving us stories, which root us in our own experiences, he shows not only who we are but also forces us to consider what we may become. This is what “The Old Man” is famous for.
J.D. Salinger: The Successful Story of Famous American Writer
Six decades ago this person has changed American literature forever with a publication of his seminal novel “The Catcher in the Rye”. The book remains one that adolescents first fall in love with. The book that articulates what it is like to be young, sensitive and precociously existential. It is sold more than 60 million copies worldwide. They say he was growing up in the “House of Glass”. But how did it start?
Salinger’s stories began to appear in magazines at the beginning of the 1940s. Two years later, he entered military service of the U.S. and served until the end of World War II. While in the army, the famous American writer continued to write, carrying a typewriter with him all the time. The man who has been to war return with more steel in his bones. Despite the failed debut of “The Catcher in the Rye”, he published “Nine Stories” which attract serious critical attention. Now, it may sound weird but his search for innocence and truth leads him to universal acceptance and wealth that he deserves. This is how all the good stories are supposed to end.
Famous American Writers of the 21st Century
In this section, we are not going to find a list of American authors with a detailed biography. It would be too long. That is why we decided to highlight only one famous American writer of the 21st century who changed the history of the literature and then list equally talented and famous writers of our century. Let us get it straight.
Stephen King: The Only King of His Genre
His novels tap into our greatest fears. Before Stephen King was a writer, he was a reader. He cites Richard Matheson’s “I am legend” as the book hooked him on horror. It is time to examine the life of a writer who has taken such pleasure in scaring the daylights out of so many of us. We are presenting you some facts about the life of the most famous American writer of the 21st century.
1. He was born in Portland, Maine, that serves as the setting for so many of his famous stories. When King was just two, one night, his father left home to buy cigarettes. And never returned.
2. His mother encouraged him by paying 1 quarter for every short story he wrote.
3. Famous American horror writer, in fact, had a long list of fears – spiders, closed in spaces, sewers, funerals, the number 13 but more than anything though he feared what he saw as the very thin line between good and evil. When he was just 11, Stephen King began collecting stories about a real-life mass murderer. He dealt with his fears by writing them down.
4. Stephen had been working as a gravedigger and it is inspired King to write a story called “I was a teenage grave robber”, which was his first taste of success.
5. The thing is that the real writing success of Stephen could have ended in the trash if it was not his wife who picked it up. Steven made the changes, resubmitted the manuscript of “Carrie” and went back to worrying about paying the bills (at that time, he has already had two children, wife and a rented truck). After a couple of months, he had a telegram from one of the editors “Carrie is officially a Doubleday book. The future lies ahead. P.S. $2500 okay?” $2500 seemed like a fortune to King’s family.
6. He wrote constantly, churning out 1500 words a day. The paperback rights of “Salem’s Lot” were sold for $500,000. Next few novels made him almost half of million dollars and there was the promise of more money from the movies. Then it was “The Shining” and “Rage”.
7. This writer has published more than 30 books, 16 of which had been made into movies. The inspiration for many of these books came from a small town.
There are hundreds of famous American writers of the 21st century like Helen DeWitt, the author of “The Last Samurai”, Ian McEwan, the author of “Atonement”, Stan Lee, the author of our favorite superheroes, J. K. Rowling, you definitely know who it is. But the thing is, we highly encourage you not to judge the writer by their name and not to throw your writing in the trash. Who knows, maybe it will end up on the bookshelves of thousands of people in a couple of years.