Baltimore Writer

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Baltimore Writers

Many well known authors have written about Baltimore. Among the most famous are Edgar Allan Poe, H.L.Mencken, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and John Barth. Although Poe spent much of his life in Richmond and elsewhere on the east coast, he died under mysterious circumstances in Baltimore and was buried here. Mencken was a controversial columnist for the Baltimore Sun in the early to mid twentieth century who skewered politicians and others with his sarcastic wit. Fitzgerald was named after his famous Maryland ancestor, Francis Scott Key, who wrote the Star Spangled Banner on board a ship in Baltimore harbor during the War of 1812. While living here in the early 1930's, Fitzgerald wrote a short story entitled "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," which was originally set in Baltimore. He also completed work on his novel entitled Tender is the Night. John Barth taught for many years at Johns Hopkins University and spent his summers sailing on the Chesapeake Bay. He won a National Book Award in 1972 for his novel Chimera. In 1997 he received the F. Scott Fitzgerald Award for Outstanding Achievement in American Fiction. Some other Baltimore writers are profiled below, along with my recommendations for reading their works.
Pictured above:
Edgar Allan Poe
H. L. Mencken
F. Scott Fitzgerald
John Barth

Not shown:

Russell Baker
Anne Tyler
Laura Lippman
Tom Clancy
Steven Hunter
John Waters
Barry Levinson
David Simon

Rafael Alvarez

Anne Tyler is an award-winning American novelist who was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, on October 25, 1941. Tyler worked as a bibliographer and librarian before settling in Baltimore in 1967 where she began to write full-time. Although somewhat reclusive, she has been known to frequent the Roland Park Library for research and has contributed to their fund raising events. Her novels are marked by a gentle, compassionate wit and precise details of domestic life. Her best known works are Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant, The Accidental Tourist, Breathing Lessons, and A Patchwork Planet. All are set in Baltimore and focus on eccentric middle-class people living in chaotic or dysfunctional families. In 1983 Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize and the PEN/Faulkner Award. In 1985 The Accidental Tourist was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award and was subsequently made into a movie starring Gina Davis and William Hurt. She received the Pulitzer Prize for Breathing Lessons in 1989. Her novel entitled Noah's Compass is available in paperback and reviewed elsewhere on this site.

Recommended Reading: Noah's Compass. Read my review in the previous section.

Laura Lippman grew up in Baltimore and attended school here through the ninth grade.She is the daughter of Theo Lippman Jr., a Baltimore Sun editorial writer, and a Baltimore City school librarian. After graduating from Wilde Lake High School in Columbia, Maryland, Laura attended the School of Journalism at Northwestern University. She worked for the Waco Tribune-Herald and the San Antonio Light before returning to Baltimore in 1989 and spending twelve years as a reporter for the Baltimore Sun. Lippman began writing novels while working as a full time journalist and published seven books about a feisty private investigator named Tess Monaghan before leaving the Sun in 2001. Since then her crime fiction has won many awards, including the Edgar ®, the Anthony, the Agatha, the Shamus, the Nero Wolfe, Gumshoe and Barry awards. She also has been nominated for other prizes in the field, including the Hammett and the Macavity. As her work suggests, Laura is fond of Baltimore and appears at book festivals, library lectures, and author signings in the area. She won the Mayor’s Prize for Literary Excellence and was recognized as Author of the Year by the Maryland Library Association.

Recommended Reading: The Most Dangerous Thing
.
Read my review in the previous section.

Russell Baker was born in Loudon County, Virginia. After his father died of diabetes his mother moved the family to New Jersey and then to Baltimore, where he graduated from City College high school in 1943. He received his B. A. from the School of Arts & Sciences at Johns Hopkins and worked for the Baltimore Sun from 1947 to 1954 before joining the Washington bureau of the New York Times. By the early 1960s he was writing a syndicated column which focused mostly on political satire. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1979 for that column and received a second Pulitzer Prize in 1982 for his autobiography Growing Up. Baker was well known as the host of the PBS Masterpiece Theater from 1992 to 2004. During that time he continued to write the nationally syndicated "Observer" column for the New York Times and was a regular contributor to such national periodicals as The Saturday Evening Post, Sports Illustrated, and Mc Calls. After leaving Masterpiece Theatre he retired to Leesburg, Virginia, not far from his birthplace. Growing Up describes his childhood in rural Virginia, growing up during the Great Depression, and his young adulthood in Baltimore.

Recommended Reading: Growing Up

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