For today’s post, I have decided to do a post about the authors that got me into great literature in my formative years. I have broken this into four parts, American, English, Irish, and French.
- Louisa May Alcott~ Little Women is the novel that gets many young people into reading. For me, this was a gateway into great literature. When I found Alcott’s darker works my love for her grew. My actual favorite of her works is the Gothic tale A Long Fatal Love’s Chase. Visiting her grave in the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery in Concord Massachusetts was a truly moving experience!
- Emily Dickinson~ The poetry of Emily Dickinson will never fail to move a reader to this day. Her preoccupation with death and the morbid in conjunction with a love of nature endeared her to me!
- Edgar Allan Poe~ Speaking of Gothic, how could I do a list of writers that made me love literature and not include this powerhouse? Many people familiar with my blog will know just how much I adore Poe!
- Washington Irving~ Irving is the classic American ghost story author that is essential reading. The Legend of Sleepy Hollow and The Adventure of the German Student rank very high on my list of great short stories!
- Nathanial Hawthorne~ Hawthorne is that great son of Salem who became a powerhouse writer. I adore The Scarlet Letter and House of the Seven Gables. I actually got to tour the house itself in Salem and that is something I encourage everyone to do!
- Emily Bronte~ I have stated Wuthering Heights as my favorite novel of the 19th century many times. I first read it at just seven years old and re-read it countless times, often near my birthday. She was also impactful to me with her incredible poetry!
- Charlotte Bronte~ Charlotte wrote more novels, all of them beautiful. She made an impact almost as deep as her sister’s.
- Jane Austen~ I adore Austen for her beautiful love stories and happy endings. She is one of the lightest, as far as having happy endings, that have inspired me!
- Mary Shelley~ I adore Mary Shelley for her own work, especially Frankenstein, but also for her incredible life story. Her romance with Percy is as sensational as it is sweet at times!
- John Keats~ Ah Keats, writer of my favorite Romantic poem, La Belle Dame Sans Merci. His tragic life was at once beautiful as it was hauntingly short!
- William Shakespeare~ Not to sound pretentious including Shakespeare here, but he has influenced so much! I also truly adore works like Hamlet, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Macbeth, The Taming of the Shrew, and the play that includes my namesake character The Tempest. These works, and their adaptations, have long made me feel so many emotions at once. What person feeling oppressed and sad has not felt a bit of kinship with Ophelia? That is why he is included here.
- Lewis Carroll~ No matter your thoughts on Carroll as a person, he gave the world a great treat with his Alice stories. They were some of my favorites growing up!
- William Makepeace Thackeray~ I was in junior high school the first time I read Vanity Fair and it was a tour de force for me. This satirical novel, with Becky Sharp at the helm, influenced me deeply. I realized that heroines could be anti-heroines in their own tales if they wished!
- Bram Stoker~ Yes he is here for that perennial favorite Dracula! I adored this novel and all of its adaptations from a very tender age, and they still inspire me today!
- Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu~ I adore the short stories by this author, but he is here because of that great short novella Carmilla. This early vampire story is one I read in high school and I have never forgotten its impact on me. I still feel it is a must-read for all vampire lovers and lovers of supernatural tales in general!
- Oscar Wilde~ While his plays, short stories, and fairytales are great, I most love his only novel. The Picture of Dorian Gray is so horrific in its analysis of Victorian society, as well as of personal vanity!
- Colette~ I began reading Colette in junior high, beginning with Gigi. As I got deeper into her dark depths, I found I adored her much more scandalous works! My personal favorite is The Pure and the Impure.
- Chretien de Troyes~ This is one of the first collections of Arthurian tales I ever read. Arthurian Romances by Chretien de Troyes is what would get me to pick up all other Arthurian Literature going forward when I first read it in junior high, or thereabouts! That is why he makes the list and Thomas Malory and Geoffrey of Monmouth did not.
- Charles Baudelaire~An absolutely fabulous poet. His Les Fleurs du Mal is a must-read for anyone who wants to get into French poetry!
- Victor Hugo~ I have long adored the tale of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. I first read this at around ten or twelve having long loved the Disney film and also recently discovered the silent film starring Lon Chaney. The abject tragedy of the novel moved me deeply! That is what got him a place on this list.
- Alexandre Dumas~ The tales spun by Dumas are ones of great adventure, but also personal growth. I really adored his works The Count of Monte Cristo and The Three Musketeers from an early age!
- Gaston Leroux~ I first read The Phantom of the Opera at a very young age, I think I was maybe nine or ten. I was already obsessed with the Lon Chaney film, but I would become obsessed with the musical by Andrew Lloyd Weber as well! It still remains one of my very favorite French novels of all time.
~I hope you have enjoyed my short analysis of the authors that shaped my formative years. Who inspired your love of literature as a child? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below!