SomeONE To Write Home About…

I guess you could say I’m a “lifer”; I was born and have always lived in New Jersey.  NJ holds the dubious distinction of having the highest population density in the country and is one of only 2 states (Oregon is the other) that doesn’t permit self-service gas stations.  I got to wondering about all the other people (8.6 million of them!) who call NJ home.  More specifically, I pondered about famous people who hail from my native state.

We’ve got the musical market cornered with Holy Trinity–Sinatra, Springsteen and Bon Jovi.  But this blog isn’t about musicians.  Or politicians and/or actors–but we have them in spades too.

Instead, I wondered about famous authorsfrom New Jersey.  Joyce Kilmer, Judy Blume, and Megan McCafferty immediately came to mind.  Upon further investigation, I learned that James Fenimore Cooper, Allen Ginsberg, Norman Mailer, and Dorothy Parker were also natives.

Who knew that such a tiny state (8,729 square miles-you can drive the length in 3 hours and the width in 1 hour at the thinnest part) could produce so many illustrious writers?  How does your home state measure up?


  • At 2009.03.27 12:09, Serena (Savvy Verse & Wit) said:

    Interesting post. i have no idea how my current home state measures up or my “home” state I left measures up, though I think it might be slightly better than this current home state! LOL That was a convoluted answer.

    • At 2009.03.27 12:24, Megan said:

      I had to do a little Googling on this one, but I did find some famous literary types from my home state of Maryland! Many of them are from Baltimore.

      • Emily Giffin
      • Tom Clancy
      • Ann Tyler
      • Laura Lippman
      • Edgar Allen Poe
      • Ann Brashares
      • Rachel Carson
      • George Pelecanos
      • Neal Stephenson
      • Nora Roberts

      Well! I had no idea I shared a home state with so many literary greats. 🙂 I’ve actually met Tom Clancy, but never rubbed elbows with anyone else. But who knows! I’ll keep an eye out at the grocery store and such 🙂

      • At 2009.03.27 13:18, sammy25 said:

        Pennsylvania has

        Edward Abbey
        Louisa May Alcott (she was born in PA and moved when she was a child)
        John Barth
        Donald Barthelme
        Stephen Vincet Ben`et
        Jan and Stan Berenstain (authors of Berenstain Bears) loved them as a child
        Ed Bradley
        Rachel Carson
        Tina Fey can call PA home she was born here
        Dean Koontz
        Timothy Matlack (penned the Constitution, he had moved to PA)
        James Michener
        Gouverneur Morris (added We The People to the Constitution)
        Thomas Paine (moved to PA)

        I guess these are writers and authors who were born and who moved to PA…we have some heavy hitters!

        and on a fun note we are also home to the creater of the smiley emoticon Scott Fahlman

        • At 2009.03.27 13:35, belleofthebooks said:

          As a fellow Jersey girl, I share the pride! Don’t forget about Mary and Carol Higgins Clark and Walt Whitman.

          • At 2009.03.27 14:11, nat @ book, line, and sinker said:

            i didn’t include mhc, chc, or ww because they were all born in new york. 🙂 i know the clark ladies live in northern nj now and whitman lived his last years in camdem so i guess we can call them honorary nj authors. langston hughes spent some time in westfield…so we’ll add him to the tally too. hee hee.

            • At 2009.03.27 15:55, pannonica said:

              New York. Big state, lots of talent besides the ones who flock to NYC to make a name for themselves. Just for form’s sake I’ll be snooty and supercilious and not bother to look up any of them.

              But I do have to take issue with your NJ musical trinity. Namely, Bon Jovi?!? Personally, I’m totally underwhelmed by Springsteen but I know that’s heresy to most. Can we replace Bon Jovi (?!?!??!??!??!) with Newark’s own Sarah Vaughn? Please?

              • At 2009.03.27 20:44, pannonica said:


                • At 2009.03.27 22:41, J.C. Montgomery said:

                  Being from California, I am lucky I can count many a great writer (i.e. John Steinbeck & Amy Tan) who hails from my state. I was born in San Francisco, and lived in and around that great city until I moved to Nevada 5 years ago.

                  I mention this as I thought I would take one step further up the pride ladder and list those writers/poets born in San Francisco such as:

                  Robert Frost
                  Daniel Handler (Lemony Snicket)
                  Shirley Jackson (Who can ever forget her short story “The Lottery”?)
                  Jack London
                  Gary Snyder

                  • At 2009.03.27 23:20, Steph Su said:

                    Wow! A fellow Jerseyan. That makes me happy. 🙂 I’ve been to Seaside and thus the preassumed “Pineville” area as well, although I live further north. I look forward to your mini-pre-review of Perfect Fifths! 🙂

                    • At 2009.03.27 23:49, thewordjar said:

                      Hold onto your stovepipe hats….here’s Illinois!

                      Ernest Hemingway
                      Theodore Dreiser
                      Saul Bellow
                      Ray Bradbury
                      Carl Sandburg
                      Edna Ferber
                      Upton Sinclair
                      Edgar Lee Masters
                      Nelson Algren
                      Sherwood Anderson

                      With all these great authors, hopefully the world can forgive us for introducing Rod Blagojevich into their lives.

                      • At 2009.03.28 03:22, bybee said:

                        You also have Kevin Smith! Lucky!

                        Missouri: Mark Twain…and kind of, sort of, Laura Ingalls Wilder (she lived most of her adult life in MO and wrote the Little House books there.

                        • At 2009.03.28 04:30, vivienne said:

                          I am based in Sussex in England and the most famous author to be born here is Angela Carter. Our most famous visitor would have to be J.M Barrie who used to spend all his holidays at Cudlow House with the Davies family, who were the inspiration for his Peter Pan novel. I have also just discovered that William Blake the poet, used to live here too.

                          • At 2009.03.29 18:04, Hermie's Mom said:

                            I am a MN lifer, yet I have never really thought about this question. Some of the most well-known MN-born authors from a list I found are:
                            Maud Hart Lovelace
                            Garrison Keillor
                            Laura Ingalls Wilders
                            Sinclair Lewis
                            Robert Bly
                            Charles Schultz

                            • At 2009.03.29 19:59, Lisa said:

                              I was just coming to claim Laura Ingalls Wilder for South Dakota but Hermie’s Mom says MN. Most of the Little House book are from her life here.

                              My home state of Alabama (AL til I was 27, SD for the last 7 years) gets Helen Keller, Harper Lee, Fannie Flagg.

                              • At 2009.03.30 09:06, Hayden Tompkins said:

                                You know Jon Stewart is technically an author, right? Right?? And he’s from New Jersey. I’m just saying.

                                I love Jon Stewart.

                                • At 2009.03.30 09:07, Hayden Tompkins said:

                                  P.S. I think that North Carolina has Nicholas Sparks but I’m not really a Nicholas Sparks fan.

                                  North Carolina also has ORSON SCOTT CARD and I AM an Orson Scott Card Fan. I’m not saying I moved here BECAUSE of OSC. I am not saying that. At all.

                                  • At 2009.03.30 12:51, Care said:

                                    Mass has a ton of authors but since I’m not a native, I don’t think I’ll look ’em up. And we Mass-holes can’t be trusted to NOT hold the gas pump handle so full service is the only way to go. When I first moved here, I tried to tell the kid at the gas station that the pump was broke – the latch wouldn’t hold – they didn’t really expect me to hold the pump handle, did they? uh, yes.

                                    FUN post idea!

                                    • At 2009.03.30 18:55, Brittanie said:

                                      My home state MS has some famous authors too. 🙂

                                      William Faulkner
                                      Eudora Welty
                                      John Grisham
                                      Jimmy Buffett
                                      Mildred Taylor
                                      Shelby Foote
                                      Ellen Gilchrist
                                      Greg Iles
                                      Zig Ziglar

                                      You know the weird thing is I have never really liked Eudora Welty’s works. John Grisham I do like some of his particulary The Pelican Brief. There is a whole website done by Ole Miss College if anyone is interested.


                                      • At 2009.04.02 14:49, thedailydish said:

                                        Since Sammy has already thoroughly covered PA (many thanks!), I will do Maine.

                                        STEPHEN KING! STEPHEN KING! STEPHEN KING!

                                        Not to mention Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

                                        • At 2009.03.27 18:28, nat @ book, line, and sinker said:

                                          oh, could you please? i’m just trying to represent musical culture through the decades. bon jovi played a big role in my early teen years and many a night was spent snoggin’ to the ‘slippery when wet’ album. not all of us are so cultured as you, panny darling. haaahahah.

                                          • At 2009.04.03 08:59, sammy25 said:

                                            I got your back dailydish…we Pennsylvanians like to look out for one another 😉

                                            (Required, will not be published)

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