All in the Family of Authors

by John Pecoraro, Assistant Director

The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree; sometimes literary talent doesn’t either.  Consider the Bronte family. Most people have heard of the sisters: Charlotte, Emily, and Anne. Charlotte is best known for Jane Eyre, with its portrayal of a strong, rational female character (which was something new at the time). Charlotte published under the pen name Currer Bell.

Emily Bronte’s only novel, Wuthering Heights, the story of the doomed love of Catherine Earnshaw and Heathcliff, was met with mixed reviews on publication. It provided a stark depiction of mental and physical cruelty. It’s not surprising that Emily also published under a pseudonym, Ellis Bell.

Anne, the youngest sister, wrote two novels. Agnes Grey, dealing with the oppression of women and governesses, was an autobiographical novel paralleling Anne’s own experience as a governess. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall, with its depictions of alcoholism and debauchery disturbed the sensibilities of nineteenth-century readers.

The Bronte sisters were not the only gifted members of their family. Their brother, Branwell, was also a poet and artist. The head of the family, Patrick Bronte, an Anglican curate, was a published poet, as well as contributor to a biography of his daughter, Charlotte. Tragically, the father of the Bronte clan survived all his children.

The twentieth century is also replete with writing families. Stephen King, the master of horror, is married to Tabitha King, author of several novels including Caretakers, The Book of Reuben, and Candles Burning. The writing talent doesn’t stop there. The King’s sons are also writers. Joe Hill has published several graphic novels, the horror novel Heart-Shaped Box (a chip off the old block), and the dark fantasy Horns, as well as a collection of stories 20th Century Ghosts. His younger brother, Owen King, is the author of a book of stories We’re All in This Together and has recently sold his first novel to Scribner’s.

John Steinbeck, winner of the 1962 Nobel Prize in Literature, and author of such American classics as The Grapes of Wrath, and East of Eden is the father of Thomas Steinbeck. Thomas is the author of Down to the Soundless Sea, In the Shadow of the Cypress, and the forthcoming Silver Lotus. Much like his father’s, Thomas Steinbeck’s books chronicle events of California life.

Sons aren’t only following in their fathers’ footsteps; sometimes they’re following in their mothers’. Sandra Brown, well known and prolific author of mysteries and romance novels (Lethal, Chill Factor, Thursday’s Child) is the mother of Ryan Brown. The son has written a thriller entitled Play Dead, a zombie shocker combining football and the undead.

P. J. Tracy, author of the Monkeewrench series, is actually the pseudonym for the mother-daughter writing team of Patricia Lambrecht (Mom) and Traci Lambrecht. Titles in the series featuring the Monkeewrench crew of computer geeks include Shoot to Thrill, Snow Blind, and Dead Run.

Kellerman is a name well known to mystery aficionados. Jonathan Kellerman, whose Alex Delaware series includes When the Bough Breaks, Mystery, Bones, and Deception is married to Faye Kellerman. Faye is the author of the Peter Decker and Rina Lazarus series, including Sacred and Profane, Hangman, and The Mercedes Coffin. As a team, the husband and wife have collaborated on Capital Crimes and Double Homicide. As if this weren’t enough, the Kellermans’ son, Jesse, has written a few mystery/suspense titles himself, including The Executor, The Genius, and Trouble.

Want more? How about Frank Herbert, creator of the Dune series of science fiction novels? Frank’s son, Brian Herbert, took over the franchise after his father’s death. Kingsley Amis, English novelist, poet, and critic, author of Lucky Jim and The Anti-Death League, is the father of Martin Amis, author of The Pregnant Widow, Night Train, and other writings that explore the absurdities of the postmodern condition.

If you are interested in reading theses titles, or other titles by these authors, visit the Manhattan Public Library. Or, for your convenience, access the catalog from home twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Selected titles from many of these authors are also available in electronic format as e-books or e-audiobooks. Visit the library’s website at for more information.

Posted in: For Adults, Mercury Column

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