FLORIDA AUTHORS A to I

June 30, 2020

We know many of you are limiting travel during these uncertain times.  Although we continue to feature trips and places to visit, we are not encouraging you to visit them until it is safe.  We want to support Florida's attractions and businesses during this situation, and hope you will plan to visit them when things get better.  In the meantime, enjoy them virtually from the comfort of your home. 


RAYMOND ARSENAULT

Dr. Raymond Arsenault is a professor of southern history at the University of South Florida, St. Petersburg campus.

He has a B.A. from Princeton and a PhD in history from Brandeis.

He specializes in the social, political and environmental history of the American South, and has carved a special niche among Florida authors for this kind of writing.

His best known book may be Freedom Riders about the 1961 Freedom Rides, an important chapter in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's.

He has served as a consultant for numerous museums and public institutions including the National Park Service and the National Civil Rights Museum.

He has lectured on American history and culture in many foreign countries.

He specializes in the social, political and environmental history of the American South.

His best known book may be Freedom Riders about the 1961 Freedom Rides, an important chapter in the Civil Rights movement of the 1960's.

Since 1996 he and USF history professor and colleague Gary Mormino have worked together as Florida authors and served as the co-editors of the University Press of Florida’s highly acclaimed “Florida History and Culture” book series.

Dr. Arsenault is an active member of the Florida affiliate of the American Civil Liberties Union, and served two terms as state president and received the Nelson Poynter Civil Liberties Award in 2003.

ABOUT RAYMOND ARSENAULT BOOKS

Even more than most university professors and other Florida authors, he has published numerous books,papers and articles.

His best known works include the following:

  • (1984) The Wild Ass of the Ozarks (about President Jefferson Davis of the Confederate States of America)

  • (1984) The End of the Long Hot Summer: The Air Conditioner and Southern Culture (Journal of Southern History)

  • (1988) St. Petersburg and the Florida Dream, 1888-1950

  • (2005) Paradise Lost? (about the environmental history of Florida

  • (2006) Freedom Riders: 1961 and the Struggle for Racial Justice

  • (2010) The Sound of Freedom. (Scheduled to be released in January, 2010.)

DAVE BARRY

Dave Barry was born on July 3, 1947, and is still alive and well in South Florida (which he loves to make fun of).

This Florida author makes people laugh every day with his books and columns.

When distinguishing fact from hyperbole, Barry frequently asserts:

"I am not making this up".

Dave wrote a nationally syndicated humor column for the Miami Herald from 1983 to 2005, and has also written scores of books of humor and parody. He has also written comedic novels.

He has been a journalist since 1971, starting as a reporter for the West Chester, Pennsylvania Daily Local News.

He covered government and civic events in communities like Downingtown and Coatesville, and was promoted to City Editor after about two years.

At the Daily Local News he began to write a weekly humor column that was an early example of his unique writing style.

After leaving the Daily Local News he worked as a copy editor for the Associated Press, and then joined a consulting firm teaching effective writing methods to business people.

In 1983, Barry was hired by the Miami Herald and began his legendary career as a Florida author. He won a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1988 for his ability to inject humor into serious situations.

In 1992, Barry and some friends started a band for charity called The Rock Bottom Remainders, named for the publishing term for a book that doesn't sell.

He currently plays lead guitar in the band, some of whose other members include Stephen King, Amy Tan, Ridley Pearson, Scott Turow, his brother Sam Barry, his sister-in-law Kathi Kamen Goldmark, and Mitch Albom.

He has run several humorous campaigns for President of the United States on a libertarian platform, and has also written for the Libertarian Party's national newsletter.

Barry has defined a sense of humor as "a measurement of the extent to which we realize that we are trapped in a world almost totally devoid of reason. Laughter is how we express the anxiety we feel at this knowledge."

Dave Barry's books have frequently appeared on the New York Times best seller list.

Some of Dave Barry's books, including some authored with collaborators, include:

FICTION

  • Naked Came the Manatee (1998)(written with other Florida authors
  • Big Trouble (1999)
  • Tricky Business (2002)
  • Peter and the Starcatchers (2004)
  • Peter and the Shadow Thieves (2006)
  • Peter and the Secret of Rundoon (2007)
  • Escape From the Carnivale (2006)
  • The Shepherd, the Angel, & Walter the Christmas Miracle Dog (2006)
  • Cave of the Dark Wind (2007)
  • Science Fair (2008)
  • Peter and the Sword of Mercy (2009)
  • Blood Tide (2008)
  • NON-FICTION

  • The Taming of the Screw (1983)
  • Babies and Other Hazards of Sex: How to Make a Tiny Person in Only 9 Months With Tools You Probably Have Around the Home (1984)
  • Stay Fit and Healthy Until You're Dead (1985)
  • Claw Your Way to the Top: How to Become the Head of a Major Corporation in Roughly a Week (1986)
  • DaveBarry's Guide to Marriage and/or Sex (1987)
  • Homes and Other Black Holes (1988)
  • DaveBarry Slept Here: A Sort of History of the United States (1989)
  • DaveBarry Turns 40 (1990)
  • DaveBarry's Only Travel Guide You'll Ever Need (1991)
  • DaveBarry's Guide to Life (1991) includes Dave Barry's Guide to Marriage and/or Sex, Babies and Other Hazards of Sex, The Taming of the Screw and Claw Your Way to the Top
  • DaveBarry Does Japan (1992)
  • DaveBarry's Gift Guide to End All Gift Guides (1994)
  • DaveBarry's Complete Guide to Guys (1996)
  • DaveBarry in Cyberspace (1996)
  • DaveBarry's Book of Bad Songs (1997)
  • DaveBarry Turns 50 (1998)
  • DaveBarry Hits Below the Beltway: A Vicious and Unprovoked Attack on Our Most Cherished Political Institutions (2001)
  • "My Teenage Son's Goal in Life is to Make Me Feel 3,500 Years Old" and Other Thoughts On Parenting From Dave Barry (2001)
  • "The Greatest Invention In The History Of Mankind Is Beer" And Other Manly Insights From DaveBarry (2001)
  • Dave Barry's Money Secrets (2006)
  • DaveBarry on Dads (2007)
  • DaveBarry's History of the Millennium (So Far) (2007)
  • I'll Mature When I'm Dead (2010)
  • COLLECTED COLUMNS

  • DaveBarry's Bad Habits: A 100% Fact-Free Book (1987)
  • DaveBarry's Greatest Hits (1988)
  • DaveBarry Talks Back (1991)
  • The World According to DaveBarry (1994) includes Dave Barry Talks Back and DaveBarry's Greatest Hits
  • DaveBarry is NOT Making This Up (1995)
  • DaveBarry Is from Mars and Venus (1997)
  • DaveBarry Is Not Taking This Sitting Down (2000)
  • DaveBarry: Boogers Are My Beat (2003)

  • REX BEACH

    Rex Beach was a Florida author and rancher who was born in Michigan on September 1, 1877, and died by his own hand in Sebring, Florida on December 7, 1949. 

    He is buried on the campus of Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida.

    We include him among Florida authors because he went to college in Florida and lived in the state for many years.

    His name was known by almost all Americans less than 100 years ago.

    Current history doesn't pay much attention to him, and that's a shame.

    Beach had an eclectic career as a novelist, playwright, Olympic water polo player and successful Florida rancher.

    He came from a prominent Michigan family that moved to Florida when Rex was 7 years old.

    Rex was tall and athletic as a young man, and attended Rollins College in Winter Park, Florida from 1894 to 1896.

    He focused on athletics and science. He was the president of the tennis club, and worked on "The Sandspur", the Rollins student newspaper. His writing as a student was the first inkling that he might become one of the best known Florida authors of his time.

    Although he didn't graduate from Rollins, in 1927 they awarded him a B.S. along with an honorary Doctor of Literature degree.  He became the first president of the Rollins Alumni Association and served from 1927 to 1940.

    After leaving Rollins as a student, he attended Kent College of Law in Chicago and worked part time in his brother's law firm.  During this period he also dabbled with professional football playing for the Chicago Athletic Association.

    He was planning to become a lawyer when he got caught up in the fever of the Klondike Gold Rush and moved to Alaska in search of his fortune.

    After a few years as a starving prospector, he decided he might as well become a starving writer.

    His very first novel, "The Spoilers", was based on actual incidents involving crooked government officials stealing gold mines from prospectors.

    "The Spoilers" became one of the best selling novels of 1906.

    When he came back from Alaska in 1907, he married Edith Crater, whom he had met in Nome. While on their honeymoon, he worked on another novel.

    Beach was business smart, and kept all the movie rights for most of his books. This was very farsighted because Hollywood was in its infancy.

    Rex Beach adventure novels were among the most popular in the country in the early 1900's.

    Regular people loved his books, but intellectuals and critics did not like his stuff, referring to them as the "he-man school of literature", or "pot boilers".  Beach cried all the way to the bank.

    Many of Rex Beach's books were turned into successful films. 

    "The Spoilers" became a stage play, and has been made into movies 5 times between 1914 and 1955.  Gary Cooper starred in one version, and John Wayne in another, with Marlene Dietrich and Randolph Scott.

    Beach also wrote a number of plays, and dozens of short stories.

    Rex and Edith finally settled in Sebring, Florida, where Beach went into the farming business.  He owned 7,000 acres near Sebring and 5,000 acres near Indiantown.

    He used scientific methods of raising cattle, and also produced two crops of celery a year on 70 acres between Sebring and Avon Park.  The raising of gladiolus bulbs made him a second fortune to rival the one he made as a famous author.

    His 1935 novel "Wild Pastures" is set in the cattle lands around Sebring. This novel further establishes his credentials as a Florida author.

    His writing output slowed down during these years in Sebring, and in his later years, he went downhill physically.  He had throat cancer and had to use a breathing tube as well as a feeding tube.

    He also started losing his eyesight and, suffered severe depression after the death of his wife in 1947.

    Rex Beach died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on December 7, 1949, at his home at 2701 Northeast Lakeview Drive in Sebring. He was 71 years old.

    His ashes were combined with those of his wife and placed on the Rollins College campus near the Alumni House.  The site is marked by a by a marble slab.

    Beach's books, notes, letters, photographs and manuscripts are also in the possession of Rollins College.

    Little noticed among the achievements of this Florida author is that he was a member of the American water polo team which won the silver medal in the St. Louis Olympic Games in 1904.

    Some of Rex Beach's more than 30 books include:

  • (1906) The Spoilers
  • (1908) The Barrier
  • (1909) The Silver Horde
  • (1911) The Net
  • (1911) The Ne'er-Do-Well
  • (1913) The Iron Trail
  • (1914) The Auction Block
  • (1915) Heart of the Sunset
  • (1916) Rainbow's End
  • (1918) The Winds of Chance
  • (1927) The Mating Call
  • (1935) The Wild Pastures
  • (1935) Jungle Gold
  • (1946) The World In His Arms

  • RODERICK BILLETTE

    Roderick Billette is alive and well and lives in Mount Dora, Florida.  He is a Florida native who was born and raised in Lake County, and writes adventure stories and novels.  

    Some of this work is in the Southern Gothic genre.  

    Roderick has always been a writer, but has also worn other cloaks in his life.   He has been an underground utility contractor, a foliage nursery owner and more recently a swimming pool contractor, before returning to his first love, writing.

    He tried his hand as a music producer a few years ago and had the privilege of working on two albums with the very talented group,  Macha Gray.

    His guitar has been a constant companion through thick and thin and has helped him write song lyrics for over forty years, as can be attested by the foot-high folder on his desk.

    On occasion, he has even been brave enough (crazy enough) to dabble in poetry.

    Roderick’s hobbies include jumping from a perfectly good airplane, horseback riding, a boat with tall sails, and exploring a coral reef, with a tank on his back. These simple things make him happy beyond belief.

    His hometown is Mount Dora, Florida (he didn’t get very far) and he is a member of the Mount Dora High School Class of 1970.  After high school, he was shipped off to Clemson University where everyone involved tried, with great patience and fortitude—and without great success—to educate him.

    He has had a fortunate and blessed  life, with two fabulous, professional children and four beautiful grandchildren. 

    He was lately blessed again when he was invited by Writers One Flight Up, to join their group and grow as a writer.

    He is currently working on his fourth novel, a fast paced thriller entitled “A Murder of Wolves".  A book of short stores and poetry is also in the wings.

    Roderick’s books include the following:

    • Reunion (2017)
    • Beginnings (2017)
    • The Diary of Dakotah Johnson (2017)

    All of his books are available at Amazon, and you can learn more about them there or on his website, roderickbillette.com


    TOTCH BROWN

    Totch Brown was the name he went by.  His real name was Loren G. Brown.  He was born in Chokoloskee Bay country on March 12, 1920 and died on May 8, 1996. 

    He wrote only one book, but that book enshrined him among the best Florida authors.

    I never met Totch, but he represents the Florida Cracker I've come to know and respect in the many years I've lived in Florida.

    He wrote a book about his life that has become a classic.

    It was published by the University Press of Florida in 1993.

    That book is "Totch: A Life in the Everglades".

    I've given away so many copies of this book I don't even have one left in my personal library.

    Totch's great-grandfather, John J. Brown, was one of the earliest settlers in the Chokoloskee Bay country of the 10,000 islands.

    That would make Totch what we call a fourth generation Floridian.

    His grandfather was C. G. McKinney, another early settler in this part of the Everglades.

    McKinney came to the area in 1886 and owned a trading post that traded with Indians.

    He also wrote a small book of his life: "The Story of My Life: Early Settler on Chokoloskee among the Ten Thousand Islands of Florida Gulf Coast Tells of Experiences and Hardships of Pioneer Life in the Florida Wilds".

    In spite of the long title, the book is only 14 pages long.

    Totch survived in the Everglades by hunting gators, fishing, trading with Indians, and a few other things that you will read about in his book.

    In Totch's own words:

    At times my life in the Everglades was sustained by no more than what the Glades had to offer and the Everglades have never really let me down.Despite many hardships while bogging across the Everglades for food or hides to sell, they always gave me a warm campfire and a place to lie my tired body down.This makes the Everglades a very special and dear place to me.

    Read the only book (other than a couple of spinoffs) that Totch ever wrote, and you will know more about the Everglades and this special kind of Florida Cracker than you did before.

    You will see why he is highly regarded as one of our authentic Florida authors and storytellers.

    You can also learn more about Totch Brown and the Everglades from the old yellowed newspaper clippings displayed on the walls of the Rod and Gun Club in Everglades City. 

    There have also been other books and videos about Totch since he died in 1996.

    One of them is a DVD titled "The Best of: Everglades National Park" which features some scenes with Totch.

    He lived a proper life in his final years, and didn't want to talk about some of the things he had to do to survive in that wild country.

    Other people, however, started writing about some of those adventures after Totch died.

    Among them were hauling marijuana, making and hauling moonshine, gator poaching, and illegal fishing.

    You can still buy these books and videos on Amazon.


    EDNA BUCHANAN

    Edna Buchanan was born in New Jersey in 1939. She is alive and well and lives in Miami, Florida.

    She is one of the many Florida authors who have been with the Miami Herald, including Al Burt, Dave Barry and Carl Hiaasen.

    Even the famous actor Joseph Cotten did a stint at the Herald as drama critic.

    Must be the water they drink down there in their building on Biscayne Bay, soon to be moved to an inland location.

    According to Ms. Buchanan, she knew she wanted to be a writer since she was 4 years old.

    Even though she had no college training, she was apparently a natural in the news business. 

    She moved to Florida where she got a job at the Miami Beach Daily Sun in the late 1960s.

    In 1970, she was hired as a general assignment and police-beat reporter at the Miami Herald. 

    In 1973, she became a full-time police beat reporter.

    This was just about the time that Miami started becoming the center of the international drug trade.

    This was the era of the "cocaine cowboys".

    It was unusual in those days for a woman to be assigned a police beat. 

    She won a Pulitzer Prize in 1986 for general reporting, and became one of the best-known crime reporters in America. 

    All told, as a reporter she covered over 3,000 murders in her career.

    One of her books, "Miami, It's Murder" was nominated for an Edgar Award in 1995.

    She discussed some of her assignments in the non-fiction books, "The Corpse Had A Familiar Face" (1991) and "Never Let Them See You Cry" (1993).

    She is retired now from reporting, and writes very successful mystery novels. She is on most people's list of favorite Florida authors.

    The main character in her crime mystery series is Britt Montero, a tough and appealing female Cuban-American reporter. The kind of gal I'd like to know.

    Ms. Buchanan denies that Britt is her alter-ego.

    ABOUT EDNA BUCHANAN FLORIDA BOOKS

    Here is a listing of her fiction books:

  • (1990) Nobody Lives Forever
  • (1992) Contents under Pressure
  • (1994) Miami, It's Murder
  • (1995) Suitable for Framing
  • (1996) Act of Betrayal
  • (1996) Naked Came the Manatee *
  • (1997) Margin of Error
  • (1998) Pulse
  • (1999) Garden of Evil
  • (2001) You Only Die Twice
  • (2002) The Ice Maiden
  • (2004) Cold Case Squad
  • (2005) Shadows
  • (2007) Love Kills
  • (2008) Legally Dead
  • * Written by Edna and 12 other Florida authors. A must read for fans of Florida fun and mystery.

    Her non-fiction is equally entertaining, usually very chilling, and includes:

  • (1979) Carr: Five Years Of Rape And Murder. The story of sex killer Robert F Carr, III
  • (1987) The Corpse Had a Familiar Face: Covering Miami, America's Hottest Beat
  • (1992) Never Let Them See You Cry: More from Miami, America's Hottest Beat
  • (1992) Vice: Life and Death on the Streets of Miami

  • JIMMY BUFFETT

    Jimmy Buffett was born in Pascagoula, Mississippi on Christmas Day, 1946, and is alive and well and still a great Christmas gift after all these years.

    He lives in homes in Florida, the Caribbean, and New York.

    He is famous as a singer, songwriter, businessman, movie producer and writer.

    His thousands of devoted fans are known as Parrotheads.

    Count me among them.

    Jimmy's band is called the Coral Reefer Band; like much of Mr. Buffett's work, there is a double meaning in the name.

    He is a licensed pilot with instrument, single and multi-engine land and sea ratings.

    He is also known to be a good sailor and excellent seaman, owning many powerboats and sailboats over in his life.

    When I lived aboard my boat at Lauderdale Marine Center in Fort Lauderdale, I was a few slips away from his Cheoy Lee trawler, "Continental Drifter II".

    I never met him, but the crew told me they were always on standby for his latest cruising adventure.

    If his voice or writing skills ever fail him, he won't starve.

    He has interests in several successful businesses including two restaurant chains, "Cheeseburger in Paradise" and "Margaritaville".

    He began playing guitar during his college days, and received a bachelor's degree in history from the University of Southern Mississippi.

    After graduating from college, Buffett worked as a correspondent for Billboard Magazine in Nashville.

    He is the reporter who broke the news of Flatt and Scruggs separating. Big news back then, especially for Beverly Hillbilly fans who loved the theme song.

    Buffett began his musical career in Nashville, Tennessee during the late 1960s as a country artist.

    He soon discovered Key West and moved there, where he began to develop the laid-back beach bum image.

    His music is a combination of tropical, pop and country.

    Jimmy Buffett continues to tour throughout the year although he has shifted recently to a more relaxed schedule of around 20–30 dates.

    Most of his concerts sell out in minutes.

    He is less well known as a Florida author, but has written three No. 1 best sellers.

    His books "Tales from Margaritaville" and "Where Is Joe Merchant?" each spent over seven months on the New York Times Best Seller fiction list.

    His book "A Pirate Looks At Fifty" went straight to No. 1 on the New York Times Bestseller non-fiction list, making him one of seven authors in that list's history to have reached No. 1 on both the fiction and non-fiction lists.

    The other six authors who have accomplished this are Ernest Hemingway, John Steinbeck, William Styron, Irving Wallace, Dr. Seuss and Mitch Albom.

    His books are lighthearted fun that are loaded with adventure, romance and a salt sea air feeling.

    He must have invented the bar sign that says It's Five PM Somewhere In The World.

    Buffett is a master story teller in the mold of Garrison Keillor.

    His tales, like Keillor's about Lake Wobegon, are full of empathetic characters doing the best they can to get through life.

    I can't think of a better book than one of Jimmy's to take on a cruise or for a day at the beach.

    Bring a pitcher of Margaritas and enjoy this Florida author!

    Buffett is currently writing a follow-up to his autobiography "A Pirate Looks At Fifty", which he says may take up to ten years to write.

    Maybe it will be called "A Pirate Looks At Seventy".

    Jimmy recently became one of several new minority owners of the Miami Dolphins NFL football team.

    Some of Jimmy Buffett's books include:

  • (1988) The Jolly Mon
  • (1989) Tales From Margaritaville
  • (1991) Trouble Dolls
  • (1992) Where Is Joe Merchant?
  • (1998) A Pirate Looks At Fifty
  • (2004) A Salty Piece Of Land
  • (2008) Swine Not? A Novel Pig Tale
  • His books and music are available at Jimmy Buffett at Amazon.com


    AL BURT

    Al Burt graduated from the University of Florida School of Journalism in 1949, and spent 45 years working as a reporter and columnist for the Miami Herald. 

    He reported from Washington to Latin America and the Caribbean and throughout Florida.

    In 1965 he was covering civil war in the Dominican Republic, and was almost killed by friendly fire in a tragic incident.  

    He and a Miami Herald photographer were in a taxi in Santo Domingo when they came upon a U.S. Marine checkpoint.

    Nobody knows for sure why, but the Marines felt threatened and fired rifles and machine guns at the taxi.

    Burt and the photographer were badly injured.  The Marines immediately realized their mistake and rushed both of them to Washington D.C. for medical care and extensive convalescence, thereby saving one of the best of future Florida authors.

    Burt eventually returned to work, but had to walk with the aid of a cane.

    In 1974, Burt and his wife, Gloria, moved from Miami to Melrose, a small community east of Gainesville.  He spent the following years roaming Florida, writing columns for the Herald about the people he met and the things he saw.

    These years were among his most productive as a writer and earned him a permanent place as one of our favorite Florida authors.

    His books celebrate the Old Florida, the vanishing places and people that make Florida special, and the Florida Crackers that live there.

    In "Becalmed In The Mullet Latitudes" Al divides Florida into "Seven Little Floridas". Each little Florida is different and Al describes how.  The map below is from this book.

    For example, the west Florida panhandle he calls "Florabama", and it is culturally more like Alabama than the rest of Florida.

    North Central and Northeast Florida he calls "Florgia". It is culturally more like Georgia than the rest of Florida.

    Each "little Florida" has its own unique qualities, and he describes those qualities in loving detail.

    He was not only an excellent reporter, but a wonderful writer. He had a way of interviewing people that brought out their true nature. His gift was letting their words speak for themselves, and keeping himself out of the story.

    In addition to his thousands of columns and news reports, he wrote several wonderful books with Florida themes.  He also won many journalism awards, including the prestigious Ernie Pyle Award for human interest writing.

    Here is a listing of some of Al's Florida books:

  • (1974) Florida: A Place In The Sun.

  • (1984) Becalmed In The Mullet Latitudes. This is one of my favorite Florida books. Burt visits places that are still very much Old Florida and interviews people. He also visits places that have changed and interviews people who have lived through the changes. The irony in many of his stories is delicious. For example, read "The Father of the Sanibel Bridge".

  • (1997) Al Burt's Florida.

  • (1999) The Tropic Of Cracker

  • STEPHEN CRANE

    Stephen Crane didn't quite make it to thirty, dying in 1900 at the age of twenty-nine.  

    During his short life he became an important and well known author.  

    His books and stories are still being read and enjoyed more than one hundred years after his death.

    He visited Florida but never lived in the state.  We include him among our Florida authors because of his 1898 short story, "The Open Boat"

    The story, based on Crane's own experience, takes place in a small boat in the angry surf near Ponce Inlet and New Smyrna Beach.

    Crane was on the way to Cuba on the S.S. Commodore when the ship sank off the coast of Florida.  He and others drifted for 30 hours in a dinghy. 

    Probably Crane's best known and widely read book is his novel, "Red Badge of Courage", a Civil War tale.

    Ernest Hemingway believed "The Red Badge of Courage" was one of the finest works of American literature.

    In Hemingway's "The Green Hills of Africa" he wrote that "The good writers are Henry James, Stephen Crane, and Mark Twain.  That's not the order they're good in.  There is no order for good writers."

    Here are some of Stephen Crane's most important works.

    • (1893) Maggie:  A Girl of the Streets
    • (1895) The Red Badge of Courage
    • (1895) The Black Riders and Other Lines
    • (1896) George's Mother
    • (1898) The Open Boat and Other Tales of Adventure
    • (1899) War is Kind
    • (1899) Active Service
    • (1899) The Monster and Other Stories
    • (1900) Wounds in the Rain
    • (1901) Great Battles of the World
    • (1903) The O'Ruddy

    HARRY CREWS

    Harry Crews was born on June 7, 1935 in Bacon County, Georgia and died in Gainesville, Florida on March 28, 2012.  

    He taught at the University of Florida for 30 years, and is considered a master of Southern literature.

    He has created many memorable and freakish characters, and his novels are quite often strange, violent and dark.

    His autobiography, "A Childhood: The Biography of a Place", is considered by many critics to be a masterpiece.

    Most of Crew's works are about poor white Southerners, and he draws from his own life growing up dirt poor in rural south Georgia. Some of his books are set in Florida and that's why we have included him among Florida authors.

    Crews had a rough childhood. His father died when Crews was not quite two years old, sleeping in the same bed.  His mother remarried his father's brother, who turned out to be a violent and dangerous drunk.

    When he was five, he developed severe leg cramps so bad he was in bed for several weeks. He had to learn how to walk again.

    Crews thinks the stress of his violent home life was the cause of the cramps.

    When he was six, he accidentally fell into a cast-iron pot being used to scald pigs. He had burns over two-thirds of his body and survived only because his head was above the boiling water.  He suffered awful pain and loss of skin.

    In spite of these hardships, he grew up and joined the Marine Corps when he was seventeen.  While in the service, he began to read seriously. When he got out of the Marines, he enrolled at the University of Florida on the G.I. Bill,planning to be a writer.

    He had a lot of hard years before his first successful book. He lost a son in a drowning accident, and was divorced.  He began teaching in 1962, and his first novel, "The Gospel Singer", was published in 1968.  He was hired shortly after that by the University of Florida, and published seven more novels over the next eight years.

    Most of his novels are set in modern Florida or Georgia and are loaded with blood sports, insanity, and characters with weird compulsions and obsessions.

    Early in Crews's career, famous novelist Norman Mailer said "Harry Crews has a talent all his own. He begins where James Dickey left off."  You may remember Dickey as the author of "Deliverance".

    This Florida author's writing is rooted in what is known as the Southern Gothic tradition. This is literature that includes the supernatural, mental illness and other grotesque things.  Southern Gothic is known for its damaged and delusional characters such as in the plays of Tennessee Williams and the novels of William Faulkner and Truman Capote.

    Crews has been compared to Flannery O'Connor and other great Southern writers.  He has influenced many younger writers through his writing and teaching, including Larry Brown and Tim McLaurin.

    Crews has written screenplays, plays, and nonfiction articles, some of them are included in "Florida Frenzy".  He also became a regular contributor to Esquire, Playboy, Sport, and other magazines.

    ABOUT HARRY CREWS FLORIDA BOOKS

    Although many of Crews books have Florida settings, they are more general and Southern in nature. Some of his books have Georgia settings, and south Georgia and north Florida are close cultural cousins.

    Some of Harry Crews books include:

    • (1968) The Gospel Singer
    • (1969) Naked in Garden Hills
    • (1970) This Thing Don't Lead to Heaven
    • (1971) Karate is a Thing of the Spirit
    • (1972) Car
    • (1973) The Hawk is Dying
    • (1974) The Gypsy's Curse
    • (1976) A Feast of Snakes
    • (1981) The Enthusiast
    • (1987) All We Need of Hell
    • (1988) The Knockout Artist
    • (1990) Body
    • (1992) Scar Lover
    • (1995) The Mulching of America
    • (1995) The Gospel Singer & Where Does One Go When There's No Place Left to Go?(*)
    • (1998) Celebration
    • (2006) An American Family

    (*)A reprint of Crews's first novel, The Gospel Singer. Also contains the previously unpublished novella, "Where Does One Go When There's No Place Left to Go?" This is a story about a writer named Harry Crews who is kidnapped by characters from his own novels.


    TIM DORSEY

    Tim Dorsey was born in 1961 and is alive and well and living in Tampa, Florida.  He is one of our funniest and most popular Florida authors.

    Tim was born in Indiana, but his family moved to Riviera Beach, Florida when he was one year old.

    Like many Florida authors, Tim got his start in the newspaper business.

    He graduated from Auburn University in 1983, and was editor of the student newspaper, "The Plainsman".

    From 1983 to 1987, he was a police and courts reporter for The Alabama Journal, an evening paper in Montgomery that is no longer in business.

    He joined The Tampa Tribune in 1987 as a general assignment reporter. He also worked as a political reporter in the Tribune’s Tallahassee bureau and a copy desk editor.

    From 1994 to 1999, he was the Tribune’s night metro editor. He left the paper in August 1999 to write full time.

    Since "retiring" from the newspaper business, Tim Dorsey has written many novels, all with Florida settings. He is well known among Florida authors.

    Tim is one of the genre of Florida authors like Carl Hiaasen and Dave Barry who take Florida's craziness and make it even crazier.

    Serge Storms is the Main Character in Most Tim Dorsey Novels

    Serge has several psychological illnesses that make him an obsessive psychopathic homicidal serial killer. He takes medications for these illnesses, and they seem to work.

    Sometimes, however, he stops taking the drugs because he hates the side effects.

    His sidekick is Coleman, a drunken pothead. A lovable drunken pothead.

    But like many other great Florida fictional characters (Travis McGee and Doc Ford come to mind) Serge has a very strong sense of what is right and what is wrong.

    His serial killings always involve villains who have done bad things. You might even say they deserve to die.

    Serge is very creative in his ways of killing these villains.

    As an example, he killed a mugger by making him swallow bullets, then putting him in an MRI machine.

    The police could not figure out a dead man with a body full of exit wounds and no entry wounds.

    Another fun thing about Serge and Coleman is their wanderings around Florida.

    Serge loves all things Florida, and enjoys visiting historic Florida sites.

    He collects Florida memorabilia. I like to think he'd enjoy Florida-Backroads-Travel.com.

    Serge also shows good sense by starting a religion based on Hall of Fame former Miami Dolphin football coach Don Shula.

    Dorsey’s books are always politically incorrect, for which his readers are thankful.

    ABOUT TIM DORSEY FLORIDA BOOKS

    Here is a list of Tim Dorsey's books set in Florida:

  • (1999) Florida Roadkill
  • (2000) Hammerhead Ranch Motel
  • (2001) Orange Crush
  • (2002) Triggerfish Twist
  • (2003) The Stringray Shuffle
  • (2004) Cadillac Beach
  • (2005) Torpedo Juice
  • (2006) The Big Bamboo
  • (2007) Hurricane Punch
  • (2008) Atomic Lobster
  • (2009) Nuclear Jellyfish
  • (2010) Gator A-Go-Go
  • (2011) Electric Barracuda
  • (2012) Pineapple Grenade
  • (2013) Riptide Ultra-Glide
  • (2014) Tiger Shrimp Tango
  • (2015) Shark Skin Suite
  • (2016) Coconut Cowboy
  • (2017) Clownfish Blues
  • (2018) The Pope of Palm Beach
  • (2019) No Sunscreen For The Dead
  • (2020) Naked Came the Florida Man
  • In Tim's 2009 book, "Nuclear Jellyfish", he worked former Florida Governor Claude Kirk into the novel.

    Governor Kirk was one of Florida's all-time authentic characters. He was the first Republican governor elected in the history of Florida since the Civil War.

    Known to fans and detractors alike as "Claudius Maximus", he served from 1967-1971 with never a dull moment.

    Back then the Florida legislature was overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats from the good old boy network called "The Pork Chop Gang" for their ability to bring home the pork to their districts.

    These old Florida Cracker politicians hated Claude and opposed everything he tried. He didn't do them any favors either.

    In "Nuclear Jellyfish", Serge and Coleman give the former governor a ride back from a speaking engagement.

    Serge is telling Coleman all about the governor, and relates this story:

    “Coleman,” said Serge. “You’ll love this. A few years back, the governor was being questioned on the witness stand in some court case by F. Lee Bailey, who asked Kirk to identify himself, and state for the record what he used to do. And he said he was a former governor of Florida.

    And Bailey asked what he was now, and Kirk said, ‘A has-been just like you.’”

    The governor laughed. “That really pissed them off.”

    This is where truth is stranger than fiction, because I remember reading about that Claude Kirk incident in the newspapers here in Florida when it happened.

    Another real life character, Lucky Cole, the Everglades Photographer, shows up in Tim's novel "Electric Barracuda".

    Watch this video of Lucky being interviewed about meeting Tim Dorsey.


    MARJORY STONEMAN DOUGLAS

    Marjory Stoneman Douglas was born on April 7, 1890 and died on May 14, 1998 at the age of 108.

    She was known in her lifetime as one of the strongest defenders of the Everglades against large drainage and development projects.

    Marjory moved to Miami in 1915 as a young divorcee to work for her father, Frank Stoneman, the powerful publisher of the Miami Herald.

    She soon became active in many causes, including women's rights and civil rights, and wrote advertising copy for developers that praised the beauty and agricultural potential of the Everglades.

    In later years, she regretted having been an Everglades development booster.

    In addition to her journalism career, she became a successful writer, producing over one hundred short stories and publishing in many popular magazines.

    She began to be recognized as one of the up and coming Florida authors.

    Her most influential work was published in 1947, a book titled "The Everglades: River of Grass".

    Before "River of Grass", most Americans viewed the Florida Everglades as a dangerous and worthless swamp full of vermin, snakes, alligators, creepy crawly insects and other undesirable animals.

    "River of Grass" redefined the way people looked at the Everglades, and is considered by many to be as influential on the public's environmental awareness as was Rachel Carson's later book, "Silent Spring", published in 1962.

    Marjory was now enshrined forever in the pantheon of great Florida authors.

    For the remainder of her life after "River of Grass", she was a relentless reporter and fearless crusader for the preservation of the natural Everglades.

    She was either loved or hated, depending on which side of the environmental spectrum was involved. Environmentalists loved her; developers and chambers of commerce were not so fond of her.

    Marjory lived in the same small house in Coconut Grove from the time she came to town in 1915 until her death in 1998.

    She lived to be 108 years old, and won many awards in her lifetime including the Presidential Medal of Freedom.

    She accomplished a lot for one lifetime - even a very long one - and lovers of the Florida Everglades appreciate her efforts and recognize her as one of the greatest Florida authors.


    PAT FRANK

    Pat Frank was born Harry Hart Frank in Chicago in 1908 and died in Atlantic Beach, Florida in 1964. 

    He is not well known today as one of the leading Florida authors of his time, but he really was.

    He spent some of his life living in Tangerine, Florida, a small rural community a couple of miles south of Mount Dora.

    It was here that he wrote his best selling novel, Alas Babylon.

    This novel immediately gave him recognition as one of the most famous Florida authors.

    He wrote this novel about survivors of a nuclear holocaust during the peak of the Cold War in 1959.

    Many Americans were required to read it in high school or college. The novel is a classic story about how people cope with disasters and deal with the darker side of human nature.

    Many observers believe that the novel's fictitious town of Fort Repose is actually based on Mount Dora, Florida.

    After attending the University of Florida for two years, Pat began his career as a reporter at the Jacksonville Journal in Florida. He later worked for the New York Journal and the Washington Herald.

    While with the Herald, he became very knowledgeable about government and world affairs, and eventually became a government consultant.

    Like an early Tom Clancy, he had an ability to portray government secrets in a very realistic way.

    When World War Two ended, Pat started a full time career as a writer.

    Some of Pat's books include:

  • Mr. Adam (1947)
  • An Affair Of State (1948)
  • Hold Back The Night (1952)
  • The Long Way Round (1953)
  • Forbidden Area (1956)
  • Alas Babylon (1959)
  • How To Survive The H-Bomb, and Why (1962)
  • His books are available from Amazon.com by clicking here.

    Here is a wonderful sad and happy story about Pat's life that was published in 2009 in the Jacksonville Times Union.


    MICHAEL GANNON

    Michael Gannon is unique among Florida authors. He was born in 1928 and passed away on April 10, 2017.  He wrote many great books about Florida and other subjects.

    During World War II, Gannon was a member of the American Field Service. After the war he wrote books and articles on European military topics.

    He was also a war correspondent in Vietnam.

    When I was a student at the University of Florida in the 1960's, Dr. Gannon was known as Father Gannon, a catholic priest.

    I believe he gave up the priesthood voluntarily and with honor, but I don't know the details.

    Dr. Gannon is considered by many historians and Florida lovers to be the preeminent scholar of Florida history. He is an expert scholar in the field of Spanish colonial history. He has received many awards and honors.

    He was made a Knight Commander of the Order of Isabel la Católica from King Juan Carlos I of Spain.

    He received his PhD. from the University of Florida, and he is still the distinguished service professor emeritus of history at the University.

    He is the author or editor of nine books, making him one of the most productive of Florida authors.

    Even though he is an academic, he is a hands on historian. I recently read an interview of him talking about the racial strife in St. Augustine in the 1960's.

    He clearly knows the Minorcan community well, and is one of the few people around who still remembers Hoss Manucy and the Ancient City Gun Club.

    His books are easy to read and read again.

    ABOUT MICHAEL GANNON FLORIDA BOOKS

    I'm afraid I will overlook some of Dr. Gannon's works, but here is what I am aware of that he wrote about Florida and Florida history:

    • (1990) Operation Drumbeat: The Dramatic True Story of Germany's First U-boat Attacks Along the American Coast in World War II
    • (1996) The New History of Florida
    • (2003) Florida: A Short History, Revised Edition
    • (2007) History of Florida in Forty Minutes
    • (2013) The History of Florida

    I just finished his "Forty Minutes" book and it is great. I wish it were mandatory reading in Florida public schools.

    Dr. Gannon has also written several well received fiction books.

    His books are available at Michael Gannon at Amazon.com

    Read about his life here: Gainesville Sun.


    JAMES W. HALL

    James W Hall was born in 1948 and is currently living in South Florida and Western North Carolina.

    He is one of the best educated and credentialed writers in our collection of Florida authors.

    He has a Ph.D., and can legitimately be called Dr. Hall.

    In spite of that - or because of that - he's one hell of a writer.

    He was a Fulbright professor of literature in Spain, and spent more than 40 years at Florida International University in Miami as a professor of literature and writing. 

    He taught many students who have gone on to become successful Florida authors.

    Hall has written 16 novels, but is also a poet and has published 4 volumes of poetry.

    Many of his novels have Florida settings. Hall captures South Florida as well as any Florida author around.

    He knows the Florida Keys and its waters, and it shines forth in his work. He also captures the solitude and danger of the Everglades.

    He also knows the urban areas of South Florida with all its contradictory squalor, poverty, wealth and glamour.

    His work is sprinkled with references to Florida Keys history.

    Thorn is featured in 12 of this Florida author's novels.

    Thorn is a beach bum who lives like a hermit in his Key Largo stilt house on Florida Bay.

    He makes his modest living tying fishing flies that he sells to local bonefish guides.

    He has a mysterious past, was raised in the Keys by a doctor and his wife who adopted him when he was an orphaned baby.

    His adoptive parents died many years ago.

    Thorn still drives the doctor's battered old VW although it has expired license tags and he has no driver's license.

    He has worked from time to time as a mate on a fishing boat, and as crewman on various vessels around the Florida Keys.

    Thorn minds his own business, but always stumbles into dangerous adventures, and usually has to call on his latent violent side to get himself out of trouble.

    Sugarman, also known as Sugar, is Thorn's best friend.

    Sugar is a private detective who has a Jamaican father and a Norwegian mother, and is strikingly handsome.

    His skin is a couple of shades lighter than Thorn's perpetually sun tanned hide.

    Sugarman combines the passion and tropical flair of his father and the cool rational detachment of his mother.

    He does investigations for Thorn when it's called for. His rational side helps the impulsive Thorn chill out now and then.

    In one novel, Thorn has to dispatch a shotgun wielding villain. Thorn's only weapon is a nail file, but he succeeds in killing the bad guy.

    A witness says that he saw the whole thing, that it was self defense.

    It was a nail file against a shotgun.

    Sugarman observes that for Thorn, that's even odds.

    Thorn is representative of what is still one of the enduring Florida Keys mythical attractions: the eccentric loner with a mysterious past who goes by one name only.

    Hall is a master at creating believable characters and making improbable situations seem reasonable in his twisted tricky plots. 

    He is one of my favorite Florida authors.  I find it hard to put a James W Hall novel down once I've started reading it.

    JAMES W HALL FLORIDA BOOKS

    • (1987) Under Cover of Daylight (Thorn)
    • (1990) Tropical Freeze (Thorn)
    • (1991) Paper Products (short stories
    • (1992) Bones of Coral
    • (1993) Hard Aground
    • (1994) Mean High Tide (Thorn)
    • (1995) Gone Wild (a bit of Thorn)
    • (1996) Buzz Cut (Thorn)
    • (1997) Red Sky at Night (Thorn)
    • (1998) Body Language
    • (2000) Rough Draft
    • (2001) Hot Damn! (essays)
    • (2002) Blackwater Sound (Thorn)
    • (2003) Off the Chart (Thorn)
    • (2004) Forests of the Night
    • (2007) Magic City (Thorn)
    • (2008) Hell's Bay (Thorn)
    • (2010) Silencer (Thorn)
    • (2012) Dead Last (Thorn)
    • (2013) Going Dark (Thorn)
    • (2014) The Big Finish (Thorn)

    ERNEST HEMINGWAY

    Ernest Hemingway was born on July 21, 1899, and died by suicide on July 2, 1961.  He is probably the most famous writer on this website, and there is abundant information out there about his life, career and works. 

    Most people don't think of him when they are discussing Florida authors.

    He received the Pulitzer Prize in 1953 for "The Old Man and the Sea", and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954.

    Hemingway's writing style is characterized by economy of words and understatement.  His work has had a major influence on modern fiction writing.

    His heroes are typically stoical men who exhibit an ideal described as "grace under pressure."

    Many of his works are now considered classics of American literature.

    Ernest Hemingway and his wife, Pauline, lived in Key West for several years in the 1930s. 

    He had a strong work ethic, and got up extremely early every morning to start his writing.

    After lunch he loved to hang out and drink for the rest of the day at Sloppy Joe's, a place that is still a popular hangout.

    In many ways he was one of the first typical Key West tourists, except for getting up early in the morning.

    Hemingway Home at 907 Whitehead Street is still a popular tourist attraction.  The house is open to the public for tours 365 days a year from 9 to 5.  

    Many other writers also have lived in Key West, but we don't consider them Florida authors. Consider Tennessee WilliamsTruman Capote and many others.

    A neat little book is "The Key West Reader", edited by George Murray.  The book features work from some of the best known Key West writers from 1830 to 1990.

    ABOUT HEMINGWAY'S FLORIDA BOOK

    "To Have And Have Not" is the only book with a Florida setting that Hemingway wrote in his Key West years and is the reason we include him among Florida authors.

    The book was written in 1937, and is a novel about Harry Morgan.  Humphrey Bogart played Harry in the film of the same name.

    Harry is a fishing boat captain who runs contraband between Cuba and Key West.  The novel depicts Harry as a basically good man who is forced into black market activity by economic forces beyond his control.

    The Great Depression features prominently in this book, forcing depravity and starvation on the residents of Key West, referred to as "Conchs."  That rhymes with "Conks".

    Another recent interesting book, especially if you're a cat lover, features a photographic history of Hemingway and his cats: "Hemingway's Cats"

    The image above is of Ernest Hemingway's Florida drivers license with an expiration date of October 1, 1940.


    CARL HIAASEN

    Carl Hiaasen was born in 1953 in the Fort Lauderdale, Florida suburb of Plantation. He is alive and well and living in South Florida.

    He may be America's greatest satirist, and is certainly one of the most entertaining Florida authors of modern times.

    I first heard about him when I moved to Miami in 1992 a couple of weeks after Hurricane Andrew had laid much of Miami-Dade County to waste.

    My new job as regional manager of a large consulting firm required me to join the Greater Miami Chamber of Commerce.

    I began to hear Hiaasen's name, and it was clear he was not well liked by the average chamber member. He was even less liked by the Chamber leadership.

    Why was he the most hated of Florida authors, at least by this group?

    To better understand this, I read "Tourist Season", and instantly became a Carl Hiaasen fan.

    Read the book and you will understand why the Chamber of Commerce types hate Hiaasen.

    This book was a hilarious look at Florida tourism, and Hiaasen claims he wrote it to scare tourists away. It didn't work, but it's a super fun read anyway.

    I have a reference book titled "Outstanding Floridians" that was published in 1971. That is the year Carl would have turned 18.

    There is an entry in there for Carl Andreas Hiaasen, attorney of 2417 Northeast 27th Avenue, Fort Lauderdale, born May 26, 1894 and in the practice of law since 1923.

    My hunch is that this man was our Carl's grandfather and namesake. I don't know for sure, so don't quote me.

    In any event, Carl Hiassen's Florida roots run deep.

    His website says he graduated from the University of Florida at the age of 23 and joined The Miami Herald as a general assignment reporter.

    He went on to work for the Herald's weekly magazine and later its prize-winning investigations team.

    Since 1985 Hiaasen has been writing a regular column for the Miami Herald.

    His column, at one time or another, in his own words, "has pissed off just about everybody in South Florida, including my own bosses".

    Hiaasen has received many awards and honors for his newspaper work, including the Damon Runyon Award. He has also been published in many magazines including Time, Playboy and Sports Illustrated.

    He is one of the most versatile Florida authors.

    He began writing novels in the early 1980's with a good friend, the late William D. Montalbano.

    As a team, these Florida authors produced three mystery thrillers based on their own experiences as reporters.

    These joint effort books were titled "Powder Burn" (1981), "Trap Line" (1982) and "A Death in China" (1984).

    "Tourist Season", mentioned earlier, was published in 1986. It was Hiaasen's first solo novel.

    You gotta love a book that starts off with the body of the president of the Miami Chamber of Commerce being found floating in Biscayne Bay in a suitcase.

    The poor guy's legs have been sawed off and a rubber alligator stuffed down his throat.

    At first, media reporters and local police think it's just another typical South Florida crime. Instead, it turns out to be an effort to scare tourists away.

    His next novel, "Double Whammy", was a hilarious story about sex, murder and corruption on the professional bass-fishing circuit.

    Almost all of Hiassen's novels are set in Florida, and he has created some memorable characters, like "Skink", a former Florida governor who lives on road kill.

    I can't think of a better way to get a belly laugh in this crazy world than to read one of Hiassen's books.

    ABOUT CARL HIAASEN FLORIDA BOOKS

    Here is a listing of Carl Hiaasen's fiction books since 1986 and through 2018:

  • (1986) Tourist Season
  • (1987) Double Whammy
  • (1989) Skin Tight
  • (1991) Native Tongue
  • (1993) Strip Tease
  • (1995) Stormy Weather
  • (1997) Lucky You
  • (1998) Naked Came The Manatee *
  • (2000) Sick Puppy
  • (2002) Basket Case
  • (2002) Hoot (young adult novel)
  • (2004) Skinny Dip
  • (2005) Flush (young adult novel)
  • (2006) Nature Girl
  • (2009) Scat (young adult novel)
  • (2010) Star Island
  • (2013) Chomp
  • (2013) Bad Monkey
  • (2013) Basket Case
  • (2014) Dance Of The Reptiles
  • (2014) Skink..No Surrender
  • (2016) Razor Girl: A Novel
  • (2018) Squirm
  • (2018) Assume the Worst
  • (2020) Squeeze Me

    His non-fiction is equally entertaining, and includes:

  • (1998) Team Rodent: How Disney Devours the World. This book did not endear him to the Walt Disney empire, but is a great read.
  • (2008) The Downhill Lie: A Hacker's Return To A Ruinous Sport. He chronicles his return to golf after being away from it for 32 years.

    * "Naked Came the Manatee" was written with 12 other Florida authors. It is hilarious.  You must read!
  • Hiassen has also published two collections of his newspaper columns, books titled "Kick Ass" and "Paradise Screwed".


    ZORA NEALE HURSTON

    Zora Neale Hurston was born in 1891 in Alabama and died in Fort Pierce, Florida in 1960.

    Her story has always touched me because I moved to Florida the same year that Ms. Hurston died.

    She was a black author, and Florida was very much a southern state. In recent decades she has been recognized as one of the greatest Florida authors.

    Blacks were not treated equally under the law in those days. She didn't enjoy any financial success during her lifetime.

    Though born in Alabama, she was still a baby when her family moved to Eatonville, Florida. Zora always considered Eatonville her only home.

    Eatonville is a small town on the northern edge of Orlando. It was founded in 1887 and was America's first incorporated black town.

    In addition to Zora, another famous Eatonville native is Deacon Jones, former NFL great for the Los Angeles Rams who is now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    Zora described Eatonville as"a city of five lakes, three croquet courts, three hundred brown skins, three hundred good swimmers, plenty guavas, two schools, and no jailhouse."

    Eatonville was good for Zora. She was surrounded by black people achieving good things in life. Her father was a preacher, and an important citizen in Eatonville.

    By all accounts, Zora had a happy childhood until she was about 13. That was when her mother died, and her father quickly married a younger woman. Zora and her new stepmother were always at each others throats.

    Zora wandered around for years working in menial jobs, and finally turned up in Baltimore working as a maid. She was 26 years old, and still hadn't finished high school.

    She decided to go back to high school, and lied about her age. She said she was 16 so she could attend the public school. For the rest of her life she said she was 10 years younger than she actually was.

    Zora finished high school in Baltimore, and finally went on to graduate from Barnard College in 1928. She was really 37 when she graduated, but her friends all believed she was 27.

    She was active in the "Harlem Renaissance" of the 1920's, a period of time in which black artists, writers and actors were beginning to be recognized. Her friends included poet Langston Hughes, actress Ethel Waters, and writer Sterling Brown.

    By 1935 Zora had published several short stories and a novel titled "Jonah's Gourd Vine". She had also published a popular collecton of black southern folklore called "Mules And Men".

    What many consider her masterpiece, "Their Eyes Were Watching God", was published in 1937.

    In 1942 she published her autobiography, "Dust Tracks On A Road", and became famous at last. She was written up in Who's Who In America and other reference works. At last she was recognized as one of the most important Florida authors.

    She never made much money in all of the years of her literary success. America was not kind in those days to black authors, especially Florida authors, and to make things worse most of her career was during the Great Depression.

    She worked for a time as a librarian at Patrick Air Force Base near Cocoa Beach, but got fired. She lived in the Eau Gallie area of Melbourne in those days.

    After her stint at Patrick, she worked as a maid in Fort Pierce, Florida, towards the end of her life. She died in 1960, at age 69, after suffering a stroke. Her Fort Pierce neighbors took up a collection for her funeral. The collection didn't raise enough to buy a headstone, so Zora was buried in an unmarked grave.

    The grave remained unmarked until 1973.

    In the summer of 1973 a young writer named Alice Walker traveled to Fort Pierce to place a marker on the grave of the author who had been an inspiration for her own writing.

    Walker found the Garden of Heavenly Rest, a blacks-only cemetery at the dead end of North 17th Street, abandoned and overgrown with weeds. Walker had a gray headstone installed.

    The epitaph reads:

    "Zora Neale Hurston: A Genius of the South".

    Alice later wrote "The Color Purple", for which she won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. She has also been instrumental in bringing Zora Neale Hurston back into the public awareness and establishing her reputation as one of the greatest Florida authors.

    ABOUT ZORA NEALE HURSTON FLORIDA BOOKS

    Here is a listing of some of Zora Neale Hurston's fiction:

  • (1934) Jonah's Gourd Vine
  • (1935) Mules and Men
  • (1937) Their Eyes Were Watching God
  • (1938) Tell My Horse
  • (1939) Moses, Man of the Mountain
  • (1942) Dust Tracks on a Road
  • (1948) Seraph on the Suwanee

    She also wrote dozens of short stories and articles in her career, including "John Redding Goes to Sea", "Drenched in Light", "Spunk", "Possum or Pig", "The Eatonville Anthology" and many others.
  • In addition to her novels and short stories, she wrote several plays as well.

    Some of her provocative articles include: "How It Feels to be Colored Me" in The World Tomorrow, "The 'Pet Negro' Syndrome" in the American Mercury, "My Most Humiliating Jim Crow Experience" in the Negro Digest, "Conscience of the Court" and "What White Publishers Won't Print", both in the Saturday Evening Post.



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