Happy Independence Day
In our continuing series looking at some of the best writers from a selection of countries, today I turn our attention to the other side of the Atlantic.
The USA has produced more great writers than I could cover in 10 blog posts, therefore, this is a short list of some of my personal favourites.
Mark Twain
Born Samuel Clemens, Mark Twain is regarded by many as the ‘father of American Literature’. Like Charles Dickens on this side of the Atlantic, Twain was popular across the social divide. His stories were rooted in the ordinary life of 19th Century America and his adventures on paper were almost exciting as his own real-life travels. As a young man, he sought his fortune as a gold prospector but it was his gift as a storyteller and wit that he became famous. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are among the most beloved books ever to be written by an America, with the latter regarded as the Great American Novel.
Edgar Allan Poe
Poet, novelist, editor and acerbic critic, Edgar Allan Poe’s life was rooted in the world of literature. He was born in Boston in 1809 but he is mostly connected with Baltimore. He is regarded as the first great exponent of the short story that America produced, peppering his work with the macabre and the mysterious. He is also regarded as the man who created the detective novel. Even his death was a mystery. At just 40 years of age, he was found delirious, wandering the streets of Baltimore wearing someone else’s clothes. He was incapable of telling anyone what had happened and the cause of his demise remains an intriguing end to a prolific and brilliant life.
Raymond Chandler
Those of you who know me well will know that there was no way that Raymond Chandler was not going to appear in this list. Born in Chicago, Chandler was educated at Dulwich College private school in England. He was a naturalised British citizen and worked briefly in the civil service. He borrowed money to return to the States where he worked as a bookkeeper and auditor until 1931 when he was dismissed for a series of disciplinary problems. Flat broke in the middle of depression riddled America, he decided to try writing. He taught himself how to write ‘pulp fiction’ and his first story was published in ‘Black Mask’ magazine in 1933. Six years later The Big Sleep was published and the legend of Philip Marlowe was born.
Without Chandler and Marlowe I may never have written a single book, so thank you, Raymond, from the bottom of my heart.
Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway was one of the most influential writers of the early twentieth century. Like Chandler, Hemingway was born in Illinois. He was both a journalist and a fiction writer. His time as a journalist took him to Spain to cover the civil war, he spent time in Paris, Toronto, and Florida, each destination would have an influence on his fiction. His iconic fiction includes For Whom the Bell Tolls. The Old Man and the Sea and A Farewell to Arms. He won the Pulitzer in 1952 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. A genetic condition that causes mental and physical deterioration led to his suicide in 1961.
Stephen King
Stephen King is one of the most successful writers of all time. He has sold more than 350 million books worldwide. He is a master of the horror genre but he is also an excellent writer of science fiction and fantasy. There are some within the literary world who look down on King’s work – probably partly motivated by his success – but his popularity can’t rely on storytelling alone. Anyone reading Stephen King’s work should acknowledge his ability to create vibrant dialogue and incredibly complex three-dimensional characters. I’m sure that you will have your favourite King novel. Let me know in the comments.
This is only touching the edge of the vast array of talented writers who call America home. I would love to hear from you who are your favourites that I’ve missed. I would particularly like to hear from our friends in the U.S. of some of the hidden gems of American literature.

To all our friends in the USA, have a very Happy Independence Day.