Daily Archives: August 22, 2012

Literary Lives: Real and Imagined

I once heard the children’s non-fiction author Seymour Simon say that library books shouldn’t be labeled ‘fiction’ and ‘nonfiction’ but, rather, ‘true’ and ‘untrue.’* Indeed, many people get the labels mixed up thinking the ‘non’ in fiction means it’s untrue; well, some of it is!

Writers have always been fascinated by famous literary figures and it sometimes follows that they inspire fictional material written in novel form: a biographical novel. As an avid reader, I am intrigued by the possibilities as it allows me to get closer than I ever would to imagined scenes and emotions. Here are a few (along with a biographical non-fiction counterpart, should you desire truth instead of imagination):


Age of Desire by Jennie Fields


Edith Wharton by Hermione Lee

Victorian writer Edith Wharton wrote novels depicting the strict propriety of appearances, the devastating consequences of scandal, and women whose lives were often an entrapment. Age of Desire chronicles a love affair the author had when she was in her mid-forties, a turning point in her unhappy and loveless marriage.


Gatsby’s Girl by Caroline Preston


The Perfect Hour: the Romance of  F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ginevra King, His First Love by James L.W. West

Before The Great Gatsby and before the colorful and infamous Zelda, Jazz Age author F.Scott Fitzgerald met a beautiful socialite named Ginevra King. This is the story of their ill-fated romance.


The Lost Memoirs of Jane Austen by Syrie James


Jane Austen by Carol Shields

 Poor Jane. Everyone always wants to believe there was once a long lost love in her single life. Perhaps there was, but we’ll never really know!


*Kind of how I believe that produce should be labeled, say, ‘strawberries’ and ‘chemically-treated strawberries’ instead of ‘strawberries’ and ‘organic strawberries!’


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