Storyline: The mordant humorist bounces back and forth in time, trying to temper his universal madness with being a well-loved figure.

Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) (1835-1910) - American writer. Outer: Son of a merchant, who also practiced law, dabbled in politics, and dreamed of making a fortune in land speculation. Mother was a Calvinist Kentuckian. 5th child. Grew up on the Mississippi River, which inspired much of his memorable fictional work, particularly Tom Sawyer and Huckleberry Finn. Initially attended private schools. His father died from pneumonia when he was 11, shortly after going bankrupt, and he was forced to quit school to help support the family. Worked as a printer’s apprentice, left home at 17, traveled, became an itinerant typesetter, then worked for his brother, Orion, a newspaper publisher, introducing his own terms, particularly when his sibling was away. Decided to set out for the Amazon, but changed his mind and became a licensed riverboat pilot in 1859, and for two weeks, served as a Confederate irregular. Along with Orion, who had been appointed secretary of the territory, he entered the Nevada, in the middle of the Civil War as a deserter in search of silver. Lost his savings, then joined the staff of the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, changed his name to a boat depth signal, and reinvented himself, working there for two years. Wrote nearly 2000 local items, although after a scandalous hoax, he was forced to leave town. Became famous with his first travel book, The Innocents Aboard, written in 1869, then prospered on the lecture circuit, and became part-owner of a Buffalo newspaper, thanks to his father-in-law. Married Olivia Langdon, a coal heiress, in his mid-30s, and became a man of wealth and substance, with an international reputation and a Connecticut mansion. 3 daughters from the union, while a son died in infancy. Drew deeply on the magic of his childhood, to create a formidably brilliant body of work, which was both funny and wise. Because of his business misadventures, however, he went bankrupt in his late 50s, but repaid his debts through a lecture tour of the world the following two years. His favorite daughter died during this period, and he also began to fear he had lost his writing skills. His last years saw him burdened with despair and self-doubt and unreconciled to his material successes but spiritual lack of integration. Wrote potboilers and went on another world tour to recover his fortunes, but the venture exhausted him. Born and died with the spectacular appearance of Halley’s comet in the skies, having predicted his demise with its reoccurrence. Inner: Exhibitionist with a plethora of dual characteristics, aristocratic in tastes, yet a voice of commonality; pessimistic social critic, yet full-hearted materialist. Had a universal sense of humor and a remarkable command of the vernacular. High-humored moralist battling the cruelty of the world. Both affectionate and filled, at times with malice. Compulsive traveler, with the ability to live both like a grandee and a bum on his many peregrinations. High water mark lifetime of being a writer for the ages, with a solid material grounding, and an ever-expanding imagination and power of exposition, coupled with a deep and abiding self-doubting humanism. Laurence Sterne (1713-1768) - English writer. Outer: Great-grandfather was archbishop of York. Father was a low-ranking infantry officer, who unhappily married the daughter of an army provisioner because he owed her sire money. 2nd child and one of 3 out of 7 who survived infancy. Had an impoverished childhood spent on the move, with a couple of death-defying accidents, including surviving being run through in a duel. Lived with an uncle from the age of 10, and in 1731, his father died, which occasioned his returning to his mother, only to see her move to Ireland, in what would prove to be a longtime contentious relationship twixt the two. Supported by a cousin to go to Jesus College, Cambridge on scholarship, where he was infected with tuberculosis, a life-long disease. Took holy orders and became an eccentric country vicar in northern England, ultimately making a permanent enemy of his uncle, a powerful archdeacon with whom he disagreed politically. Frequently ill with consumption, he married a shrew, Elizabeth Lumley, in his early 30s, and dealt with her through heavy drinking bouts, and rumored romantic trysts with others. Only one daughter from the union lived, her father’s favorite, who became the editor of his works, while his extended family went out of their way to make life miserable for him. Proved to be an unconventional and unreliable churchman, with empathy for the poor, and a delightful reputation for sermons. Nevertheless, he was conscientious about his duties. Did some political journalism, and also published a few sermons, while holding several posts. His first book was ordered burned by the Church, which prompted him to become a fulltime novelist. A devastating satirist, with his masterpiece, a 9 volume pseudo-autobiography called Tristam Shandy, which was introduced in 1759, and then published in the 1760s. The work made him famous in England and on the continent, where he became a celebrated success, despite the unique, inventive character of the work and its oddball punctuations, empty spaces, and pre-stream-of-consciousness discourses. Moved to London, then traveled to Paris, where he was lionized while frequenting the salons there, but lost his voice through illness. A talented travel writer, as well, he showed warmth and humor in his descriptions of exotic locales. Returned to England for health reasons in 1764, separated from his wife by leaving her in France, and pursued various flirtations despite his precarious physical state, including platonically fell in love with an unhappily married younger woman, Elizabeth Drayton, but her husband blocked the affair, forcing her to rejoin him in India. Died of pleurisy, then his body was stolen by grave robbers and used in an anatomy lecture, in an unconscious appreciation of his ability as a mordant teacher. It was eventually recognized and finally returned to its proper resting place. Passed on without a will, but his resourceful daughter was able to use his works, via subscriptions to his sermons, to both her and her mother’s financial advantage.. Inner: High-spirited, able to transcend misfortune through an optimistic personality. Highly inventive and imaginative, and a boon companion to those who appreciated him. Painted and fiddled for relaxation, while employing the French author Rabelais (Charlie Chaplin), as a primary inspiration. Sterne und drang lifetime of unpleasant familial relationships, balanced by wild release with friends, and deep-humored writings to try to re-integrate his disconnected beginnings and self. Kurt Vonnegut, Jr. (1922-2007) - American writer. Outer: Born on Armistice Day. Father was a successful architect, mother was the daughter of a prosperous brewer. Youngest of 3, with a brother who became a physicist and an expert on thunderstorm, and a sister who died of cancer when he was in his 30s. His sire would got through long periods of unemployment during the Depression, while his unbalanced mother sprayed him with invective, causing a lifelong distrust of women in her son. Studied biology and chemistry at Cornell Univ. at the former’s insistence, although preferred journalism. in 1944, his mother committed suicide by drinking Drano in a depression over her financial failure as a writer, an act that remained in his writer’s craw the rest of his life. Enlisted before graduating and served in the U.S. Air Force during WW II, and personally experienced the devastating bombing of Dresden, from the vantage of an underground meat locker, after being captured by the Germans, which he would later limn in Slaughterhouse Five. 6’3”, 195 lbs. Married Jane Marie Cox, a high school classmate in his early 20s, one son and three daughters from the union, while also adopting the 3 sons of his deceased sister. Studied anthropology at the Univ. of Chicago, although he had his grad thesis unanimously rejected, then became a reporter and public relations writer for GE, before making money as a short story writer. Turned his earlier adventures into fiction, beginning with Player Piano, a satire on corporate life, in 1952, and went on to create a highly popular oeuvre of satiric sci-fi, writing in a cartoon-like style with short chapters and repetitive mantras, most notably in Cat’s Cradle. Also fashioned an alter ego, Kilgore Trout, who swam upstream through numerous of his works. In addition, he wrote plays and short stories, several of which were translated to the screen. Revered Mark Twain, and like him, moved from the midwest to the Northeast, enjoying a similar popularity and a similar good-humored pessimism. Divorced, and married photographer Jill Krementz in 1979, after living with her for nearly a decade, one daughter from the 2nd union. Following the enormous success of Slaughterhouse Five, he made a suicide attempt in 1984 with an overdose of pills and alcohol which he later limned on paper. Remained a well-loved curmudgeon, periodically issuing dire discourses on the future, while continuing to explore his ongoing obsessions in print, in progressively lesser works. A chain-smoker, he almost self-immolated in a fire in 2000, but recovered. The older he got, the less enamored he became with the human race, viewing it as a monumental mistake, while his worldview grew increasingly despairing. Continued, nevertheless, to publish into the 21st century, while viewing his vocation as a much-needed questioner of life’s absurdities, and trying to trumpet the need for community and extended family as a salve for the world’s woes. Suffered irreversible brain damage as the result of a fall and died several weeks later. Inner: Pessimistic, with a deep sense of moral order, and an outrageous sense of invention. Liberal and humanist, despite his despondent view of his fellow humans. Canary in a coal mine lifetime of expanding his imagination through tragedy, and playing with his unique vision of humanity through a writing style still in the experimental stage, that he would have to go back in time to perfect. Charles Lamb (1775-1834) - English writer. Outer: Son of a scrivener, he was given access to a large library as youth. Youngest of 3 surviving children. His sire’s employer was an MP, who gained him a good education at Christ’s Hospital, where he became a lifelong friend of Samuel Coleridge (Ezra Pound). Good scholar, but a stutter precluded him from taking holy orders and gaining a university degree. Dropped out of school and spent his career working as a clerk in East India House, beginning in 1792, which left him considerable time for writing. His family was tainted by madness, and he caught a flash of it when he was 20. His sister Mary (Shirley Jackson), in a spate of insanity, killed their invalid mother when he was in his mid-20s. Took care of her the rest of his life to prevent her from going in an asylum, and collaborated with her on several works, including a retelling of Shakespeare’s plays for children. Held “at homes,” at their domicile, which proved a delightful gathering place for his fellow London culturati. An astute critic, he wrote many essays, often autobiographical, although avoided painful subjects. Playful in his exposition, he penned numerous humorous pieces for periodicals. Once hissed his own play along with the audience on opening night. With his sister’s consent, he proposed to an actress in 1819, although was refused. The following annum, London Magazine came into being, which published his cornerstone work, “the Essays of Elia.” Although he retired with a pension in 1825, the added time did not translate into more work. Instead, he was forced to move to the countryside when his sister’s condition worsened. His subsequent isolation, coupled with alcoholic tendencies, caused his health to decline. Eventually died of erysipelas from injuries suffered in a fall. Inner: Quiet, contemplative, with a keen critical mind. Excellent conversationalist, good sense of humor and fantasy, with a deep appreciation of the prose writers who had preceded him. Tragedy-tainted lifetime of playing with his unintegrated interior by directly dealing with his sister’s deteriorating madness, while expunging himself of his own, through witty written exposition. John Marston (c1575-1634) - English playwright. Outer: Father was awell-to-do lawyer, mother was the daughter of an Italian physician. Studied at Brasenose College, Oxford, then took up law at Middle Temple, where his father had rooms. Abandoned his law training for a literary career, preferring the company of the latter, and began displaying his satiric gift. Wrote many satires for boys’ companies, eventually becoming shareholder in a theater. Engaged in a running feud with Ben Jonson (Norman Mailer), later collaborated on a play with him and George Chapman (Allen Ginsberg), which resulted in a brief imprisonment for all three, for its anti-Scottish bias in the face of the Scots-born king, James I (Kenneth Tynan). After a second imprisonment, he stopped writing, sold his theatrical shares, took Anglican holy orders in 1609, married Mary Wilkes, the daughter of the king’s chaplain, and became a clergyman, holding the same rector post for his last fifteen years. Eventually refuted his earlier self, allowing himself to be ultimately imprisoned by his own sense of censoring rectitude. Inner: Satirical wit, with licentious sensibilities, although probably held a good deal of inner guilt over his conflicted callings. Self-negating lifetime of wrestling with himself and his abundant wit, allowing the more repressed part of his nature to ultimately prevail. Luigi Pulci (1432-1484) - Italian poet. Outer: Father was from an old family whose fortunes had declined. Two brothers also became poets. Lived under the protection of the de’ Medici family for many years, enjoying and learning from the wide circle of poets and artists who received their beneficence. Particularly close with Lorenzo de’ Medici (Abraham Lincoln). Exiled briefly with his brother for debt, then had to support his sibling’s family after the former’s death. Probably married in his late 20s, 4 sons from union. Masterwork was Morgante, a many-canto poem both burlesquing contemporary life, and expressing his strong religious convictions, which he added to throughout his life. Held various embassies and diplomatic positions, but improvidence caused him to enter the service of a condottiere, under whom he labored until his death. Ran afoul of the Inquisition for his heretical thought, made a half-hearted attempt at reconciliation, but refused to censor his own works, and wound up being buried in unsanctified ground as a heretic. Inner: Pessimistic, bitter and boisterous, although with a deep, mordant humor. Unorthodox views, and a lively companion, but his desires for serious recognition were continually thwarted, because of his use of the colloquial rather than the classical. Religious, but morally ambivalent, with a devilish desire to stir the canonical pot. Thumb-to-nose lifetime of continuing to develop his writing skills to counter the unkind world around him, while never being officially recognized for his verbal derring-do.


Storyline: The intrepid journalist searches for the truth outside himself and never quite sees he is always the turbulent landscape about which he writes.

John Steinbeck (1902-1968) - American writer. Outer: Of German, Irish and Yankee descent. Only son of a miller who was once treasurer of Monterey County. Mother was a former school teacher. Good athlete as well as an avid reader, with a particular penchant for allegory. 6’, rugged, blonde-haired and blue-eyed. Attended Stanford Univ. as a special student without taking a degree. His earliest favorite writer was Thomas Malory, a previous life of his, thanks to a similar fascination with the King Arthur legends. Supported himself through menial and manual labor, gathering material for his well-wrought social landscapes, as he chronicled California’s underclass while enjoying its company. Worked his way to New York on a freighter in order to pursue a literary career, labored briefly as a reporter, then as a hod carrier in the construction of Madison Square Garden. After the rejection of a first manuscript, he returned to California via freighter, married in his late 20s, and lived off a family allowance. Achieved some success with his third novel, after which his works proved extremely popular. Despite his misgivings about success, he won a Pulitzer Prize in 1940 for Grapes of Wrath, about migrant Okies in California during the Depression. Did his best work in the last half of the 1930s and early 1940s. A compulsion for travel terminated his first union to Carol Henning after two years in 1932. His second marriage in 1943 to Gwendolyn Conger, a singer, produced two sons and lasted five years, until his wife announced she had never loved him and had been unfaithful for years. The shock caused a serious nervous breakdown. The third time around in 1950 proved successful, to Elaine Anderson Scott, the ex-wife of actor Zachary Scott. Moved to New York in the early 1940s, which seemed to adversely affect the quality of his subsequent work. Served as a war correspondent during WW II, and afterwards continued his prolific output, including writing for the stage, adopting some stories for the screen and magazines, as well as on travel. Won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1962, and later took a very hawkish view on the Vietnam War, unlike his fellow dovish scriveners. Zealously guarded his privacy, shunning interviews and taking little part in the public literary life of his times, while living simply and in purposeful isolation. Wrote 24 books, and was also a skilled woodworker. Spent a year in England working on a version of Thomas Malory’s book on Arthur, but never completed it. Made a trip to the Far East, and strained his back helping an old Chinese man in Hong Kong. Had successful back surgery, but his health went into decline afterwards. Suffered from emphysema, asthma and mini-strokes at the end, and died after a series of heart attacks. Inner: Unpleasant, intolerant, angry, anti-intellectual, extremely sensitive to criticism, although kind and soft-hearted with intimates. Literary snob, with an acute ear for dialogue and a keen eye for detail. Probably felt superior to those he chose to write about. Wished for “freedom from respectability.” Wrathful grape-stomping lifetime of trying to integrate his strong storytelling abilities, deep social concerns and an anti-social personality, into which he chose not to delve. Frank Norris (Benjamin Franklin Norris) (1870-1902) - American writer. Outer: Father was a lame watchmaker who founded his own jewelry firm. Mother had been a teacher and actress. Grew up in relative wealth. His family moved to California for his father’s health when he was young. Showed artistic talent as a boy, and was sent to London and Paris in his late teens to study art for two years, only to ultimately give up his goal of becoming a painter. Tall and handsome. On returning to California, he entered the Univ. of California, and became deeply influenced by the writings of Emile Zola (Saul Bellow). Failed to graduate, and went to Harvard, studying English for a year. The following annum, as a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle and Collier’s, he covered the Boer War in South Africa, where he was briefly captured and took ill. Returned to San Francisco and wrote for a literary magazine, before moving to New York, where he labored for McClure’s. Married the beautiful and lively Jeannette Black at 30, one child from union. Spent part of 1898 in Cuba covering the Spanish-American War until he was forced by illness to return to New York, where he published his first work of fiction. Afterwards, he worked for the publishers, Doubleday, Page & Co. Wrote in the “naturalist” style of objective reporting, with a particular affinity for the clash of titanic forces. His best novel was McTeague, the story of a brutal dentist who murdered his wife with his bare hands. Called the American Zola for his overheated and melodramatic prose, and by 1901, with the publication of The Octopus, on the struggle between the grain growers of California and the railroad, he became a literary star. Died the following year of a ruptured appendix before he could complete the trilogy on wheat that the latter book had started. Inner: Hard worker, loyal, kind and considerate. Temperamentally romantic with a great thirst for adventure and the ability to totally immerse himself in his reportorial environs. Rebellious against his own upbringing, searching for polarities in his continual limning of the archetype of “the brute,” a singular fascination of his. Flickering candle lifetime of limning the truth as he saw it on the printed page, in preparation for an extended foray of exploring the same dynamic in a far more brutish character. James Fenimore Cooper (1789-1851) - American writer. Outer: 11th of 12 children of the founder of a frontier settlement, later called Cooperstown. Mother was a Quaker. Father was also a wrestler, congressman and judge who died from a blow to the head in a political argument. Enjoyed a privileged upbringing and education, but was expelled from Yale for a prank. Joined the navy, but after his father’s death, he was financially independent, so that he resigned and married Susan Delancey in his early 20s, 5 children from the union. Dabbled in various activities for a decade, before publishing his first novel, which was imitative. By his third novel, he had found his true metier, and established his reputation with a series called The Leatherstocking Tales, which were rousing adventures of colonial American life. Lived in NYC, and was active in the cultural and political life of the city, then spent 7 years in Europe with his family for the education of his children. After returning, he eventually retired to Cooperstown. Involved himself in the political frays of day, taking a liberal stance. Subject of libel suits towards life’s end, as well as a decreasing interest in his works, which became more political, as he grew more bigoted in his thinking. The characters he created were mostly two-dimensional, his writerly strength lay in his story-telling abilities. Died of sclerosis of the liver. Inner: Quintessential American who came across as liberal in Europe and conservative in America. High-spirited, socially aware, liberal believer in the power of gentleman rulers. Felt American literature should express national ideals. Broad-shouldered lifetime, once again, of entwining strong storytelling abilities with deep social concerns, although unlike the other existences in this series, operated from an initial springboard of wealth and privilege. Daniel Defoe (Daniel De Foe) (1659?-1731) - English journalist and novelist. Outer: Son of a Nonconformist London butcher. Had a Presbyterian upbringing, and was educated at a dissenter’s academy. Fought in Monmouth’s rebellion, later joined the army of William III (Lyndon Johnson). Intended for the ministry, but became a merchant instead. Married Mary Tuffley in his mid-20s, 7 surviving children from the union. His youngest daughter married poet and naturalist Henry Baker. Despite his wife’s dowry and his savings, he declared bankruptcy in his early 30s. Paid his creditors, but was never free from debt the rest of his life. Became known for his political writings, and was imprisoned, fined and pilloried for an ill-timed satire in 1703, which bankrupted him again. Rescued by Tory politician Robert Harley (Rupert Murdoch), he served him as a political agent, despite having opposing Whig sympathies. Published and wrote the Review for nearly a decade on the affairs of Europe. Acted as a one-man magazine, having begun his journal in prison, and proved himself a shrewd observer of current events. Sent to Scotland on a secret mission for the government, and busied himself with the affairs of the day, proving indefatigable in his need and ability to render his opinion on virtually everything he deemed of import. Nearly 60 when he began writing novels. Best known for Robinson Crusoe, a metaphor for his own continual survival as an individualist. Published over 250 works, and was a masterful satirist. In 1729, he left house and family and vanished into London. Possibly mentally ill at time and suffering from hallucinations. Died alone of an apoplectic stroke. Inner: Self-reliant, with a strong notion of justice and morals. Fascinated by occult phenomena. Virtual endless spout of information and opinion, with a lively, penetrating political mind. Crusoe crusader lifetime of establishing his unique public character, before ultimately disappearing unconsciously into himself, the one landscape he continually refuses to broach. Thomas Deloney (c1543-1600)- English writer. Outer: Little known of his early life. Probably born and educated in East Anglia. An itinerant silk weaver by trade, who collected stories during his work-related wanderings through the English countryside. Moved to London, married, at least one son. Became notorious for writing angry political pamphlets, was proscribed by the authorities and condemned by the intelligentsia of the time, despite his function as gatherer and dispenser of much cultural material as a populist storyteller and songwriter. Widely read by the uncultured, thanks to his lively dialogue and fanciful imagination. Inner: Angry, obstinate, driven. Gypsy lifetime of movement, information-gathering and storytelling, his trinity of usual activities, played out against the same angry, stubborn bard who refuses to acknowledge his own great rage within. Thomas Malory (c1405-1471) - English writer. Outer: Life largely unknown, since some question exists as to whether someone of his violent reputation could possibly have penned a work of such sublime chivalry. From an old Warwickshire family, he inherited his father’s estate in his early 20s. Probably fought in the Hundred Years War between France and England, was knighted, and was briefly an MP. Imprisoned eight times, escaping twice, for various aggressive acts of brigandage, as well as rape, extortion and mayhem. Ultimately excluded from pardon during the War of the Roses. Imprisoned in his early 50s, where he chronicled the Age of Arthur and the legend of Camelot in English. Eventually died in prison. His reputation lies with his comprehensive chronicle of Camelot, the first prose account in English of the rising fall of King Arthur. Inner: Aggressive, angry, volatile, and extremely divided, with a lofty mind appended to a violently antisocial existence. Hidden lifetime of much martial and murderous activity that resulted in a gift for the ages in his retelling of one of the major English myths of the past, and his own ongoing imprisonment in himself in the process.


Storyline: The literary light alternately courts and shuns the limelight, and in the process, upstages and downgrades his own considerable talents, whenever he sacrifices his deep inner life, in order to showboat himself on the shallow waters of the public stage.

Norman Mailer (1923-2007) - American writer. Outer: Mother was the daughter of a rabbi. Father was a Jewish Lithuanian immigrant from South Africa, where he had been an accountant. Despite charm, flamboyance, and a trace of a British accent, his sire fared poorly in the U.S., often spending years out of work, abetted by a penchant for gambling. His mother ran the family, with a small oil delivery business, and thought her son a “genius” from early on, while treating him like a young prince. Had a quiet, uneventful childhood, and was somewhat shy, short and skinny, albeit reputedly well-hung. Very close to his mother and sister. After showing an early academic brilliance, he entered Harvard at 16, and graduated with a BS degree in aeronautical engineering, while scrivening short stories there. Worked in a mental ward during the summer, which inspired his much-rejected first novel, later published in 1978. Married in his early 20s to Beatrice Silverman, a relatively coarse fellow Brooklynite. Drafted into the army during WW II and served in the Pacific theater, where he thought he was going to be killed, and which served as his true education. Saw little combat, and wound up a cook with the occupation army in Japan, before exiting as he had entered, a private, after being demoted for insubordination. Earned early fame with a re-imagining of that experience,The Naked and the Dead, but was unable to match its vigor in later fictional works, while, he later lamented, its acclaim turned him into an empty celebrity. Lived in Paris after WW II with his wife, acting out a fixation with macho writer Ernest Hemingway. Moved to Hollywood on his return, where he evolved his clamoring, confrontational character, reinventing himself, while living in a fog of smoke, uppers and alcohol, and speaking in a host of accents. Turned to essays after his third novel was largely panned, and in 1955, co-founded and named the country’s first alternative weekly, “The Village Voice.” Savaged everyone in sight in Advertisements for Myself, in 1959, in his ongoing desire to put his violently distorted sense of manhood above all other considerations. Initially a poor speaker, he developed his public persona quickly. His marriage fell apart after the birth of daughter, divorced in 1952. His 2nd marriage in 1954 was to Adele Morales, a Spanish-Peruvian artist, 2 children. Stabbed her in the back and stomach with a small penknife in 1960, after a night of drinking and provoking street scrapes, and wound up spending two weeks in Bellevue Hospital, although she refused to press charges, and they divorced in 1962. His 3rd marriage in 1962 was to Lady Jeanne Campbell, an English gentlewoman, one daughter, divorced the following year. His 4th wife, whom he married in 1963, was Beverly Bentley, an actress, 2 sons from the union. Won a Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for The Armies of the Night, in 1967, his first-person recounting of an anti-war march on the Pentagon, in what would be the high-point of his personalized journalism, and would usher in his most productive decade, spurred in large part by alimony and debts, totaling some $300,000. Did some experimental filmmaking during the decade, as well, and penned his last significant volume, The Executioner’s Song, a novelistic treatment of the life and death of murderer Gary Gilmour. Ended his 17 year 4th union in 1980, to embark upon his 5th marriage, to Jean Campbell, which was over by year’s end, adding one more one daughter to his collected brood. His 6th and final wife, whom he also married in 1980, was a young artist, Norris Church, who so overwhelmed him on first meeting her, that he was rendered speechless. Made her his idealization, while she forged her own modest career, ultimately writing a novel herself, one son. 8 children in all from his various unions and lifelong search for an idealized female companion, although he managed to threaten his final union with some adulterous deceit a decade into it. Ran an unsuccessful campaign for mayor of New York on the platform of “Vote the Rascals In,” in 1969. Continued his career as a highly noticeable notable of the literary world, turning to journalism and self-advertising during the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s, in which he often took a buffoonish bow as narrator, before producing several bloated novels in his latter years, none of which impressed the public or critics. Sponsored the release of Jack Henry Abbott, a murderer turned writer, who proceeded to kill an actor during his brief time on the outside, in unconscious acting out of trying to kill the actor without in order to free the writer within, a blood theme he has explored over several lifetimes. Despite fame and fortune, and some solid work, never able to equal the artistic promise of his earlier career, because of too much of a need for the kind of outer life that precludes a deep inner one. Eventually grew hobbled, goutish and weak of body, although not of mind, and died of acute renal failure. Penned about four dozen works, which were noted far more for their stylistics than their content. Inner: Feisty, highly articulate, with a great thirst for recognition. Perceptive and pungent, although stuck in the bygone world of his youth and its values and projections. Macho misogynistic homophobe, with a repugnance towards his true reality as a nice Jewish boy gone awry, in his misperceptions about what it means to be a man. Hey, look at me lifetime of trying to be stage-center all the time, making for an extremely uneven performance, both with pen in and out of hand. Herman Melville (1819-1891) - American writer. Outer: Third child of a fur and felt importer. His family had settled in America in colonial times, and several members were heroes of the American Revolution. His mother was cold and haughty, and he eventually left home because he thought she hated him, although he maintained close relations with his family his whole life. Also found his father spiritually dishonest. Contracted scarlet fever as a child, which permanently weakened his eyesight. His father died demented and bankrupt when he was in his early teens, leaving the family in financial difficulty. Worked as a bank clerk, then a farmhand, studied surveying, shipped out for a summer as a cabin boy, briefly taught, and then headed for the high seas. In his early 20s, he set sail on a whaler for the South Seas. Jumped ship and was briefly jailed for joining a mutiny, among other seafaring adventures, including feasting with cannibals, which he used for literary gain. His family’s fortunes improved, as did his own, using autobiographical material for his early works, which were well-received. A homophile at heart, although he married Elizabeth Shaw, the daughter of a Massachusetts magistrate, in his late 20s in a union that was cemented from loyalty, rather than love. 2 sons died young, one shooting himself after an argument with his father, the other becoming a drifter and dying of tuberculosis, while his 2 daughters survived. Could never quite secure a governmental post for the security he wished. Began writing obsessively from the late 1840s on, but, despite the brilliance of his works, critics, readers and publishers alike did not like his eroticism or his untraditional view of God and society. Traveled, bought a farm, became a neighbor of Nathaniel Hawthorne (Robert Lowell), and wrote his whale-hunting epic and paean to pantheism, Moby Dick. Idolized Hawthorne, who rejected his advances. Felt betrayed and suffered a series of nervous illnesses when the latter ultimately moved, and slipped off into ill health. Became increasingly withdrawn after Moby Dick’s initial mopey failure, drawing more deeply on his own interior for his later works, which were also ill-received. A fire at his publisher’s destroyed most of his books, and he came to look to travel and writing for sustenance, although was forced to depend on his wealthy father-in-law for a living. Became ever more withdrawn and anti-material and was rejected by the Navy for the Civil War. Sold his farm, moved to NYC, drank heavily, and finally got an appointment as a customs inspector on the New York docks, spending two decades at the position. His oldest son committed suicide in 1867. Continued writing through declining health, a largely neglected figure who found his strength through his integrity of purpose. Died of an enlarged heart. Inner: Vigorous, high-spirited extrovert, who eventually withdrew from society, becoming more and more introverted. Felt misunderstood but refused to compromise his vision, and in the process became a literary artist of the ages. Bitter ashes lifetime of tasting both fame and obscurity while trying to preserve his unique sense of self against a world he felt was spiritually bereft. Tobias Smollett (1721-1771) - Anglo-Scottish writer. Outer: From a family of Scottish lawyers and soldiers active in Whig politics. Mother was a proud woman with a good sense of humor, one of 3 children. Studied medicine and classics at the Univ. of Glascow, but left without a degree to become a playwright in London. Commissioned as a surgeon’s second mate in the Royal Navy, he saw some action against the Spanish in America. in his early 20s, he married a Creole plantation heiress he had met in Jamaica, then set himself up as a surgeon in London, with his wife joining him later. One daughter from the union, who died when she was 15, in 1763, and he never really recovered from the loss. Put his naval experiences in print, and got his M.D. degree in 1750, but was too outspoken with his patients for a successful practice. Went to Paris to research another book, then stirred up a tempest in an essay questioning the medicinal properties of the hot waters at Bath. Engaged in fisticuffs with his landlord and a hack writer who refused to repay a loan. Opened his house to the literary lights of his time, proving himself to be a teacherly and generous host. Wrote in the comic manner of Ben Jonson, a former life of his, with a wide range of subjects at his behest, and a prolific pen at his continual calling. Always had difficulties with money, and also contracted tuberculosis. Wrote a volume his/story of England, beginning in 1757, which proved successful, after many of his novels were not. A libel suit landed him briefly in prison. Did much editorial work for periodicals, as well as translations. Overworked, weakened and deeply grieving his lost daughter, he was attended by his wife, while he traveled on the continent, where he befriended fellow writer Laurence Sterne (Kurt Vonnegut) who playfully dubbed him ‘Smelfungus,’ in one of his works. Because of his continued precarious health, both emotional and physical, he ultimately retired to an Italian villa where he died. Best remembered for his narrative novel of pricking pride, Peregrine Pickle. Inner: Irascible, highly energetic, and bellicose. Generous, with an aristocratic sympathy for the poor. Violently emotional, subject to imagined slights, a stranger in a strange land as a Scot in London, then on the continent. Searched for realistic metaphors for his vision of the sordidness of life. Not particularly deep, more of a moralist than a philosopher, with a gift for invective, satire and sharp observation. Exploratory lifetime of adventuring on the sea, processing tons of information and feeling deeply, while engaging in his usual battles, both legal and financial, and learning how to master the form of the novel through a keen eye for social types and foibles. Ben Jonson (1572-1637) - English playwright. Outer: From a family of brigands and aristocratic warlords. Posthumous son of a clergyman of Scots descent who left his wife and infant child in poverty in one of London’s worse slums. Always maintained a strong interest in the land of his forbears. Mother was a proud woman with a good sense of humor. Father died a month before his birth, having previously lost his fortune. His stepfather, who married his mother when he was 2, was a master bricklayer, who added at least two more sons to the household. After an abbreviated education at Westminster School, where he received a thorough grounding in the classics, he was removed from school at 16 to follow his stepfather’s trade. Joined the army to escape his fate, and served in the Low Countries, killing a Spaniard in a sortie, then resumed his trade, marrying Anne Lewis in 1594, which legally ended his apprenticeship, 6 or 7 children from the union, none of whom lasted until adulthood. Became an actor with play-wagon groups in the country, working up to London roles, although was not very good at his newfound trade. In 1597, he killed a fellow thespian in a duel, claimed benefit of clergy through his ability to read Latin and escaped the gallows, although was branded on the thumb with a ‘T’ for Tyburn, the gallows site. Began his playwriting career around the same time, although was ill-rewarded for some 16 works composed over the next 3 and 1/2 decades. Imprisoned several times, including a brief incarceration with George Chapman (Allen Ginsberg) and John Marston (Kurt Vonnegut) for a satire the trio had written that had insulted the king. Invited to perform masques at the royal court of James I (Kenneth Tynan), he proved extremely innovative in that form, eventually winning a royal pension for life in 1616. Called before the consistory court with his shrewish wife, to explain their absence from Church, he spent the next 6 years arguing about it, only to eventually conform to common practice. A compulsive philanderer, he defiantly converted to Catholicism for 12 years, and constantly engaged in feuds. Separated from his wife, he continued his theatrical successes. Embarked on a long walking tour, and was given an honorary master of arts degree at Oxford, a singular honor. Essentially England’s first unofficial Protestant poet laureate. Engaged in public “wit-combat” with William Shakespeare (William Butler Yeats), besting him verbally, albeit not on paper. Long a central father figure for aspiring writers, who were known as “sons of Ben.” Later life proved less successful, his personal library burned, his plays were ill-received, and he suffered a debilitating stroke, brought on by excessive drinking and eating, which ultimately confined him to his bed. Made the city chronologer, although produced nothing for the position. His pension virtually stopped under Charles I (Prince George), and he experienced poverty once again. A year before his death, he was honored with a dinner, in which he gloried in himself, and lambasted his fellow poets. Buried in Westminster Abbey standing up, as per his request, since he was too poor to afford a prone 6’ space. Inner: Extremely witty, forever escaping controversies, although eventually undone by his own voluptuous sense of self-destruction. Gross, vain, truculent. Angry, stubborn, inspiring and extremely influential. Once again directly involved in the death of an actor. Across the boards lifetime of realizing himself as a vast stage, upon which he endlessly and shamelessly strutted without regard for his audience. Matteo Bandello (1485-1561) - Italian writer and poet. Outer: From a noble family, his education was supervised by an uncle, who was a Dominican prior and theologian. Entered the Dominican order and accompanied his uncle on travels in western Europe. Far more secular than spiritual, gaining his sense of the world from his travels. After his uncle’s death, he returned to his convent, but soon liberated himself and became a soldier, courtier and writer. Lived in Mantua for 6 years, beginning in 1515, as a tutor and court poet to a Gonzaga noblewoman. Returned to Milan and became involved in political intrigue, identifying himself with the French cause. After the defeat of the French, he was forced to flee in disguise, leaving his books and manuscripts behind, which were subsequently destroyed. In 1528, he became an adviser to the general of the Venetian republic and then followed him into exile in France 14 years later. After the death of his patron, he was named Bishop of Agen by the French king, a post he held for 5 years before retiring and dying in France. Best remembered for a collection of coarse, lusty stories called Le Novelle that reflect his many experiences and his vivid imagination. Many of them would be used by later playwrights as the basis for their stage-works. Inner: Lusty, highly political and extremely secular, despite his religious upbringing. Works destroyed, as in many of his lives, although his existence was not predicated on them. Privileged lifetime of protection by powerful birth and the Church to pursue his true loves of writing and adventuring without having to depend on either for a living.


Storyline: The self-created Olympian rises to the cream of the social order, but keeps his passions unchurned, to become an acute but detached observer of the power of personality of his times.

Gore Vidal (Eugene Luther Vidal) (1925-2012) - American writer. Outer: Grandson of senator Thomas Gore, whom he idolized to the point of appropriating his name. Father was a pioneer air corps pilot, and leading aviation figure, who became a director of air commerce in the Franklin Roosevelt administration. Mother was a beautiful alcoholic who ultimately resented her son, as he did her for her bullying and self-pitying. Loved the former and despised the latter, while closing himself up as a result of her, as well as eschewing any further painful exploration of himself. After the divorce of his high-flying parents, he was raised primarily by his grandparents. Enjoyed early and continued exposure to the personalities of the century through his bloodlines and later, his own achievements in letters. Knew what he wanted, to read and write voraciously, and be a transcendental public personality through his skills. Claimed to have been in love only once in his life, to a fellow prep school schoolboy, Jimmie Trimble, who was killed in WW II, and became his Renaissance romantic ideal. Served on a supply ship during that conflict, later writing about his experiences. Handsome, desired, well-spoke, well-socialized and well-traveled, an Apollo for the 1940s on both sides of the Atlantic. His third novel shocked public sensibilities with its unadorned examination of a homophile main character, a preference the author also unabashedly publicly stated, calling himself a ‘same sexual.’ After failing to capture public attention with his next series of novels, he turned to playwrighting for television, the cinema and the theater, proving successful in all three media. Also established himself as an incisive critic of both politics and culture, his twin intellectual loves. Connected to the Kennedys by a common step-father, he was extremely competitive with JFK, running for Congress, and outpolling him in his district, when the latter captured the presidency in 1960. Despite being a longtime expatriate, with an estate in Ravallo, Italy called La Rondinaia, of the Swallow’s Nest, he also ran for senator in California in 1982, and finished a strong second in the primaries, despite an obvious distaste for conventionality. Continued as a media personality, with a ready wit and charm, as well as an eagerness to display it both in person and in print. Did a series of his/storical novels on Rome, then the United States, including a study on Abraham Lincoln (Carl Sandburg), showing himself to be a lively and incisive his/storian, while subconsciously tapping into eras and personalities that he had experienced in the past on a personal basis. His novels alternated between the venomously satirical and the acutely political. Despite a detached promiscuity, he maintained an over five decade asexual liaison with a male housemate, Howard Auster, until the latter’s death. Published the first part of his memoir at 70, calling it Palimpsest, revealing a remarkably disconnected persona, despite his intimate and anecdotal involvement with the public personalities of his times, and his grasp of both their inner and outer lives. Because of health problems he moved from Italy to the Hollywood Hills in 2003, and issued his next memoir, Point to Point Navigation in 2006, as a final valedictory to himself. Evermore the curmudgeon as he aged, particularly after 9/11/2001, with his wit subsumed by his bile, and his insight a victim of his compulsively uncharitable nature. Ultimately died at home from complications from pneumonia. Inner: Witty, patrician, detached, monomaniacally self-important, with an acerb sense of contemporary foibles. Great desire to be politically loved and intellectually revered in the United States, despite his expatriate stance. Recognized America’s state of imperial decline, and was unhesitant about continually declaiming it. Name above title lifetime of trying to link the worlds of politics and letters from the vantage of an astutely observant mind, without a passionate heart beneath it, making him a man of his times rather than the centuries. John Milton Hay (1838-1905) - American author and statesman. Outer: From rugged pioneer stock. Son of a country doctor, whose family provided for his education. Mother was a schoolteacher. Grew up in modest circumstances, and went to Illinois State Univ. before transferring to Brown, where he graduated with an M.A. Enjoyed the literary circles at the latter, then somewhat reluctantly chose law, and entered the offices of his uncle, who was next door to Abraham Lincoln’s cubicle. Initially unimpressed with him, he nevertheless accompanied the latter to Washington when he became president in 1861 and was Lincoln’s assistant private secretary until his assassination. Commissioned as a major in 1864, and ultimately was promoted to colonel, despite never actively serving in the military, and instead remaining at the White House. Left Washington following Lincoln’s assassination and spent the next five years in minor posts in U.S. legations in Paris, Vienna and Madrid, while familiarizing himself with European culture, and becoming more of a champion of American-style democracy. Began writing in Europe and returned to America with a desire to pursue that profession. Became a journalist in NYC for the NY Tribune, for the first half of the 1870s, which brought him into contact with the country’s literary elite. During that time, he published his best known work, Pike County Ballads & Other Pieces. In his mid-30s, he married Clara Louise Stone, the daughter of a wealthy Cleveland railroad magnate, which enabled him to be a man of letters, travel widely and accept political posts. 4 children from happy union. Appointed assistant Secretary of State in 1979 under Rutherford B. Hayes (Jimmy Carter) he moved to Washington, D.C., where he became an intimate friend of writer and gadfly Henry Adams (Aaron Sorkin). Published a social novel, then with a co-author, a 10 volume his/story of Abraham Lincoln, from material compiled by the president’s secretaries. Worked for Republican candidates, managed his investments, and for a 6 month period in 1881, edited the Tribune, all the while becoming more and more conservative, the more he became a member of the ruling establishment, with his own monetary concerns to protect. Felt the upper-class should resist labor leaders and their ilk at all costs, while showing an open disdain for the uncultured nouveau riche, since he, himself, was a cultured member of that substrata. A confirmed Anglophile, as well, he loved the class distinctions, culture and orderliness of England, with a strong belief that the Anglo-Saxon race was the God-ordained dominating force that would bring the world peace and prosperity. Much to his delight, he was made ambassador to the Court of St. James in 1897 under William McKinley (Richard Nixon), after contributing substantial sums to the latter’s presidential campaign. The near year and a half he spent there were by far the happiest of his life, as he intermingled with the country’s elite as an equal and also helped forge an alliance twixt the two countries that would last throughout the 20th century. Reluctantly accepted an appointment as Secretary of State under McKinley in 1898 via a sense of duty and obligation, and held the same post under his successor, Theodore Roosevelt (Kathleen Kennedy). Although never an imperialist, he supported America’s involvement in the Filipino-American War, which led to his “open door” policy in China to further American interests. Because Roosevelt controlled foreign policy himself, he was more of a figurehead in the second administration. During his term, foreign policy became central to governmental policy, as America established itself as an international world player. His son died in 1901, and he never recovered from it. Ill the last five years of his life, he died in office. Inner: Gentle, poetic, witty and congenial, with a facility for winning and keeping cultured friends, be they literary, political, or in the business sphere. Excellent memory, good imagination, with a sure instinct for power. Successes came so easily, he regarded them lightly. Nothing seemed vital to him, disconsolate at his accomplishments, and subject to periods of depression, which may have necessitated a throughly detached life sans intimate, vulnerable family his next go-round. Making hay lifetime of having a pathway to power cut out for him, while exhibiting his nascent literary talents, and ultimately finding the sorrows of intimate loss too terrible to bear. John Trumbull (1750-1831) - American poet. Outer: From an illustrious Connecticut family. Son of a congregational minister and fellow of Yale Univ. Mother fed into his education, encouraging his precocity. Passed the entrance examinations to Yale at 7, but did not enter until he was 13. Wrote formal poetry, assuming it would be his pathway to fame, while penning bawdy satiric verses that he circulated to friends. Continued at Yale three years after graduating at 17, getting a master’s degree. Studied law, tutored at Yale and wrote a satire on education. Passed his bar exam and in his early 20s, entered the law office of future president John Adams (Martin Sheen ). In his mid-20s, he married Sarah Hubbard, two sons & two daughters from the union. Drawn into the revolutionary fervor of the times, he wrote An Elegy of the Times, and a mock epic burlesque of Tory politics. A staunch Federalist, he became associated with a group of political poets known as the Connecticut Wits, of which he was a leader. Continued to practice law, but wrote nothing of significance after his early 40s, focusing instead on law and politics. Began holding office, was elected to the state legislature, then became a judge of the superior court and finally judge of the supreme court of errors. Outlived his own fame, and his last six years were spent in obscurity. Contemporary of John Trumbull (Martin Scorsese), an artist who closely paralleled his span, living from 1756 to 1843. Inner: Strong conflict twixt sense of classical poetry and satiric verse. Fancied himself an epic poet of the ages, but was far better suited for literary mockery of his times. Critical and intellectual rather than emotional. Integrating lifetime of building a personal bridge between literature and politics, which he would cross even more strongly his next go-round in this series. Nicholas Boileau-Despreaux (1636-1711) - French writer and critic. Outer: Son of a self-made governmental official. An older brother established himself as man of letters and gave him the encouragement to pursue the same pathway. Began his career writing satires attacking well-known public figures, which he read to friends. Later published them in a much muted version. Wrote a mock-heroic epic, then turned to criticism, which proved to be his true metier. Made himself a champion of classicism, through L’art poetique, which became the definitive handbook for classical principles. Appointed his/storiographer royal in 1677 and spent the next 15 years in relative disputatious silence as a leading literary critic of the day. Elected to the French Academy during that time. In a subsequent division of the literary world over the comparative merits of the ancients and the moderns, he took sides with the former, writing an antifeminist satire, seeing women clearly on the side of the latter. Although he did not create the rules of classical drama and poetry, he did not dispel that notion, and instead, articulated them in most memorable fashion. Translated a classical treatise, On the Sublime, which, ironically became a key source for the modernist aesthetics of romanticism. His health declined in later life, as did his output, but he remained an active voice until the end. Inner: Disputatious, highly cerebral, witty, urbane. Warm friend and champion of the literary greats of his time, acute, sincere and highly independent. Olympian lifetime of being given extreme cultural power and handling it handsomely as a self-appointed conservator of classicism and its wisdom, substance and style of the ages. Francesco Guicciardini (1483-1540) - Italian statesman, diplomat, theorist and his/storian. Outer: From a longtime aristocratic Florentine family who served the de’ Medicis. Began studying the law at 16, and was sent by his sire to Ferrara, before continuing his education in Padua. Despite a desire to join the Church, his father convinced him to complete his education in the law at the Univ. of Pisa, before he began his legal practice in Florence, and entered public service. Married in 1508. Erudite and observant, he completed his first mss. the same year, in which he limned the story of Florence, and his family, as well as society as he saw it, employing a highly rational, skeptical, idealistic and frank assessment of his surroundings. Elected as ambassador to Spain in 1511, he remained there for a year, and wrote his travel impressions. Returned to Florence in 1514 and entered the services of the re-enfranchised de’ Medicis, and held a variety of governorships, as well as well as general commissary of the Papal armies in Lombardy, before serving as an important adviser on papal counsels. Good friend of Niccolo Machiavelli (George Bernard Shaw). A severe and sometimes ruthless administrator, he also wrote numerous political treatises, and continued his ongoing limning of Florentine government, while also criticizing the Church, despite his longtime association with it at the highest levels. Involved in numerous political contretemps, he always showed courage and great determination. Foresaw the sack of Rome in 1527 and the fall of the de’ Medicis and headed back to the papal court. Declared a rebel by the new government in 1530, he received papal backing and resumed his offices, although was forced into exile again under the new pope, despite his longtime service to the papacy. His final work, Storia d’Italia was a model of intelligent analysis and objectivity, the first such oeuvre in Italian that tried to stick to the facts, although it was initially ill-received. Spent the remainder of his life largely alone and forgotten, while working on his his/stories. Inner: Highly intelligent, analytic and a servant of the truth as he saw it. Understood the repetitive cycles of his/story, and preferred practicalities to abstract theory. Hands-on lifetime of both living and writing his/story, in an attempt at integrating his various skills for exposition, observation and direct personal involvement with his times. Martial (Marcus Valerius Martialis) (c40-c104) - Roman poet. Outer: Born in a Roman colony in Spain, whose wild seascape probably aided his later descriptive powers. Although his parents were not wealthy, he received a good education. Went to Rome where he associated with fellow Spaniards, winning the patronage of the Senecas (George Bernard Shaw), who fell out of favor through a plot to assassinate the emperor Nero (Adolf Hitler). Lived in uneasy dependence on patrons through his charm, although never wealthy himself. Able to win approval of several emperors through sycophancy, which gave him a good social standing and the honorary title of military tribune. A homophile, he was part of the literary and social circles of the Roman elite. Through his poetry, he gave a vivid account of Rome in the last quarter of the first century of the Common Era. Expressed himself in epigrams, with a telling eye for satire and social commentary. Returned to his native area at life’s near end, where he was given an estate by a Spanish patroness. Inner: Scornful of social deviance, with a piercing wit but also a need to flatter those in power, while uninhibitedly devastating those who were not. Had enormous range to his powers of observation, with an equally brilliant sense of conciseness to his use of language. Unmartial lifetime of serving as an astute recorder of his time, while continually hustling to make sure he maintained a prominent place in it, and in so doing, becoming a wit for the ages.


Storyline: The omniscient observer drinks in life and sifts it through increasingly telling strainers, until she no longer has to directly experience her telling senses and sensibilities, because of the acute strength of her perceptions.

Jane Austen (1775-1817) - British writer. Outer: Father was a British clergyman, who was rector and headmaster of a small boys’ school, and had descended from landed gentry. Mother had familial ties to nobility. Seventh of eight children, with six brothers and a sister. Lived her entire life with her family in various places. Her sire was kindly, scholarly and reserved, mother was witty and more worldly. Her closest friend was her sister Cassandra, who also never married and was the recipient of most of her nearly 3000 letters. Educated largely at home by her progenitor and elder brothers, and began writing poetry at an early age for her family’s entertainment. 5’2” with dark brown hair and eyes. Engaged in activities typical of her class and background, all the while putting quill to paper for a series of novels. To her great shock in 1800, her sire retired and moved the family to Bath from the only home she had ever known. Two years later, she accepted a marriage proposal from an unattractive old family friend, in hopes he would provide for her parents, before changing her mind. Lost her father in 1805, which reduced the family’s circumstance considerably, until they moved in 1809 to Chewton, to a house which was part of one of her brothers’ estate. Although her actual life experience was extremely limited, having never traveled ou1815t of the south of Great Britain, she was able to extract the essence of it, and project it onto a wealth of characters, becoming the delicate chronicler of her inner world, based on her keen observations and innate understanding of her particular brand of genteel humanity. Among her many works, she quilled six miniaturist masterpieces, all of which were published between 1811 and 1818, including Sense and Sensibility (1811) Pride and Prejudice (1813), Mansfield Park (1814) and Emma (1815). The sextet were all well-received, and have subsequently entered the literary canon of English literature as models of construction and character. Despite the limitations of her existence, she thoroughly enjoyed its social aspect, but her health began to fail and she died from Addison’s disease in her early 40s. Her final two novels, Northanger Abbey and Persuasion were both published posthumously. Buried in Winchester Cathedral. Inner: Precise observer with a ready wit and an excellent sense of detail. Enjoyed a lively and affectionate family, as well as a network of friends, which gave her all the world she needed to inspire her art. Romantic at heart, although she feared the destiny of being an “old maid.” Had a gift of lightness in her work, which has made her one of the most beloved and re-read authors in English. Sensational sensibilities lifetime of chronicling, rather than doing, in order to develop her own acute esthetic, and transcend her pride and prejudices. Joyce Carol Oates (1938) - American writer. Outer: Father was a tool and die designer, who worked at the same company for 40 years. Raised a Catholic, and had one younger brother, as well as a much younger autistic sister. Sexually molested as a child, she became extremely nonphysical, preferring her own inner world to the outer one. Obsessed with reading from an early age. 5’8”, striking and slender with large eyes. Won a scholarship to Syracuse Univ., where she was valedictorian and graduated Phi Beta Kappa, before getting her M.A. from Wisconsin. In 1961, she married Raymond J. Smith, an older editor who was a former professor of English, no children from the union, which rarely saw them spend a night apart in their subsequent 47 years together. Instead, the duo would have a father/daughter dynamic to their relationship, with her husband taking care of things, so she could focus on her work. Taught at several schools, before becoming a professor of English at the Univ. of Windsor in Ontario for a decade, then moved onto Princeton Univ. in 1978. Began churning out novels, short stories and essays at an astonishing rate, commencing with her first novel, “With Shuddering Fall” in 1964. Extraordinarily prolific, which has elicited suspicion about the level of her work, since it is produced so quickly and furiously. Curiously 19th century in her ability to generate high quality and high quantity at the same time, through an innate gift for conveying psychological states via imaginative projection rather than direct experience. Ironically, her books are dominated by violence, which run counter to the relative serenity of her outer adult life. Social and active, with the ability to use her time to its most productive advantage, penning over 90 books before century’s end, as well as nearly 1000 short stories, while gaining a National Book Award in 1970 for “Them,” among her numerous awards and honors for her overwhelming oeuvre. Lost her longtime husband in 2008 to complications from pneumonia, while ironically working on a short story collection entitled, “Dear Husband,” which had little to do with tender remembrances. The following year, she married Charles Gross, a professor of neuroscience at Princeton, on a Friday 13th, in keeping with her quiet gothic sensibilities. Wrote her most revealing work, “A Widow’s Story” to deal with her earlier loss, which deprived her of her sense of wholeness, as her actual experience finally embraced and transcended her vivid imagination. Inner: Enormously disciplined, wistful, shy and reclusive. Sees tragedy as the highest form of art. Continues to hold a 19th century fascination with society and people’s role in it. Finds word processors too addictive, preferring the typewriter or longhand, and is extremely disciplined, spending her mornings and evenings at her desk. Equally intrigued with the idea of twinning and shared identities. Ivory tower lifetime of exploring the wild inner life of her imagination through the outer calm of her existence as a scholar, delineator and scribe. Louisa May Alcott (1832-1888) - American writer. Outer: Shared birthdays with her sire, Bronson Alcott, a noted clergyman whose utopian idealism was not matched by his practicality. He felt it was degrading for him to work for wages after the failure of his model schools for children, leaving the responsibility for the family upkeep to his wife and 4 daughters. His wife alternately was furious at and worshiped her husband, as she begged for handouts from relatives and friends. Educated by her father in his school and later at home, and grew up in the company of the New England Transcendentalists, including Ralph Waldo Emerson (Reinhold Neibuhr) and Henry Thoreau (Edward Abbey). Wished to be rich and famous, but fate decreed otherwise. Taught and worked as a domestic, before embarking on a writing career in 1851. Wrote anonymous “blood and thunder” novels on lurid themes to make money before gradually honing her style to include children’s books and short stories. Worked briefly as a nurse during the Civil War, contracted typhoid and through inept treatment, mercury poisoning, and was in ill health the rest of her life, losing her long lustrous hair. Her most memorable work was the fabricated, autobiographical Little Women, which she wrote in several weeks at 36. It was an immediate success in the late 1860s, and helped her finally to pay all her debts, while creating an idealized version of herself in its heroine, Jo March. Remained prolific in her output, despite depressions and suicidal thoughts. Stoic, although used her diary to register her complaints, even though her mother assiduously read all the entries. The end of her life saw her constantly in pain, coupled with the loss of her mother and youngest sister, whose child she helped raise. Died three days after her father of either apoplexy, spinal meningitis, or both. Inner: Practical, resourceful, responsible, self-denying. Rebellious and largely unlovable, as well as a staunch abolitionist and believer in women’s suffrage. Exorcised her various demons through lurid writings, giving her heroines powers she never had. Put-upon lifetime of self-sacrifice and turning her overwhelming responsibility into the motivation she needed to open up her imagination and let it pour forth on the printed page. Sor Juana Inez de la Cruz (Juana Ramirez de Asuaje) (1651-1695) - Mexican poet. Outer: Born on a small farm southeast of Mexico City sitting between two volcanoes, which was run by her mother. Her father was a Spanish military officer of Basque origins who never married her mother, despite 3 children from relationship. The latter also had 3 other children from another Spanish military officer. Got a sense of extreme independence from her formidable mother. Learned how to read through deception. Extremely precocious, obsessively studious, and quite beautiful. Began writing poetry at 8. The Spanish viceroy was informed of her, and brought her to his court. Given a public oral exam by 40 scholars, which she passed with ease. At court, she wrote poetry celebrating social and political events, but felt courtlife was too confining for her studious nature. Entered an aristocratic Carmelite Convent at 15 for more time to study and write. Left after 3 months and entered the convent of St. Jerome and took her name Sor Juana, there. Lived at the convent the rest of her life, amassing her own library, although was continually reprimanded by her convent superiors for her scientific curiosity. Able to maintain dialogues with the intellectual men of the area, while enjoying her own solitudinous company. Considered the greatest lyrical poet of the colonial era. Despite a strong desire to retreat into intellectuality, she always plugged into the power structure at the base of Mexican life. As her works were published, her international fame grew. Held to the ideal of women as intellectual equals of men, but also practiced terrible mortifications of the flesh, until her confessor had to intercede. Saw Amerindians as erring humanity. Great soul-searching at end of life because of the claustrophobic roles of women, which probably ended her subsequent association with the Church. Died of contagious plague while taking care of the sisters at the convent. Inner: Self-confident, learned, imprisoned by the conventions of time. Independent and submissive at once. Scholarly and sequestered lifetime of asserting her aesthetic and intellectual predilections in an environment thoroughly unconducive to them, in an attempt to integrate her artistry with her humanity and her womanliness. St. Teresa of Avila (Teresa Sanchez de Cepeda y Ahumada) (1515-1582) - Spanish mystic and writer. Outer: From an aristocratic Castilian family. Grandfather was a relapsed Jewish convert. Mother was the 2nd wife of her father, and spent much of her time sulking in bed, reading romances. One of 13 children, with 3 sisters and 9 brothers. Devoted to the Virgin as a child, also fascinated with both saints and chivalry. At 7, she ran away with a brother in the hopes of dying as a martyr against the Moors, but was rounded up by an uncle. Her mother died in 1529, and she reacted by immersing herself in romances, fashion and perfumes, keeping her memory alive. Father sent her to be educated by Augustinian nuns, after a dangerous flirtation with a male cousin, which would have stigmatized the family’s honor, and she entered a Carmelite convent in 1535, despite her sire’s initial objections. Internalized her struggles with the religious life and the secular world, and suffered continual ill health for it, becoming an invalid for 3 years from malignant malaria, and coming back home to be treated. Had a terrifying vision of the place reserved for her in hell, and returned to the convent afterwards. Underwent a 2nd conversion in 1555, and decided to reform the Carmelite movement, which had become too worldly for her tastes. Despite opposition, she was allowed to establish a convent of unshod Carmelites with 4 novices in 1562, which emphasized withdrawal from the world, so that the nuns could deal with the sins of humankind through prayer and penance. A strong believer in prayer, and subject to religious visions, but also very commonsensical. Stayed there for 5 years, and then traveled throughout Spain to establish new convents, and with the help of others, including the mystic and writer, St. John of the Cross, formed the first Carmelite house for men. All her houses would be simple and self-sustaining, depending on alms and a basic impoverished existence. Ultimately founded 32 houses, despite her frail health and great opposition from both the secular and religious world. Ordered at one point to retire by the Carmelite general, although he was subsequently imprisoned. Greatly admired by the king of Spain, Felipe II (Adolf Hitler). Exhausted by her many journeys, she eventually died while en route on one of them. Canonized in 1662. Best remembered for her remarkable autobiography, as well as “The Way of Perfection,” written for nuns, and “The Interior Castle,” on prayer and contemplation, and the transcendence of the well-lived inner life. Hundreds of accounts would subsequently be written of her life, as a seminal archetypal figure of pragmatic religiosity. Inner: Practical, energetic and indomitable. Good-humored, charming and self-disparaging. Sainted lifetime of intense interior examination coupled with an outer drive to return religiosity to its inner mystical roots through her organizational skills and gifts for literary metaphor. Hildegard of Bingen (1098-1179) - German writer, composer and visionary. Outer: Tenth child of a well-to-do family, where the father was a knight. Suffered migraines from a young age, which opened her up to visions. When she was eight, her parents sent her to a Benedictine monastery, recently opened to receive women, for her education. Placed under the care of Jutta, a noblewoman, who taught her to read and write, although her student would later characterize her as unlearned. Jutta eventually became abbess there, while her prize pupil learned Latin, read scriptures, and was given access to a wealth of reading material of the time, of both religious and philosophical import, while also serving as a nurse. Became a nun at 18, and studied assiduously so that when Jutta died in 1136, she was elected unanimously as abbess. Spent ten years between 1140 to 1150 writing her visions down, and they were met with orthodox approval. As her house expanded, she decided to separate from its male order and move her convent near Bingen, so that it could operate on its own, despite resistance from the abbot. Held her ground, and the separation was completed in 1150, as she claimed she was operating under God’s will. The added freedom the move gave her allowed her to pursue her own goals as administrator, as well as travel throughout the southern German states, Switzerland and as far as Paris, preaching all the while. Able, because of her position, to accept her ongoing visions as an integral part of her spiritual nature. Her convent expanded to as many as 50 nuns, while also proving a popular burial site for the wealthy families of the area. The novices and nuns were all culled from upper-class backgrounds, and its members were allowed their material accouterments, such as jewelry, since she did not feel it distracted from their devotion to the on-high. Spent her time illustrating manuscripts, while also continuing to share her visions in writing, per Benedictine stress on the inner lives of their practitioners. Corresponded with the powerful and powerless alike, including the HRE emperor, as well nobles, popes and nuns. Many people wrote to her asking for advice, seeing her as a voice of numinous authority. Allowed a young excommunicated nobleman to be buried at her convent since he had repented on is deathbed, only to have him exhumed by order of her offended ecclesiastical superiors. Hid the grave, and wound up having her entire convent community excommunicated and as further punishment, banned from singing. Although she conformed to the condemnation, she refused to comply with the exhumation, and, after making plaint to even higher authorities, the interdict was eventually lifted. Best remembered for her writings, including records of her visions, and her exegeses of scriptures. Penned plays, poetry and 72 songs set to music, while addressing a host of topics that ranged from theology to nature to medicine to music. Ultimately left about seventy poems and nine books. Never canonized as a saint, since she was far too independent for the canonical tastes of her era. Inner: Not afraid to exercise her authority despite acknowledging the secondary status of women of her time. Championed order and orthodoxy, as well as religious figures over secular figures in the hierarchy of medieval authority. Often had females in her visions as totems of saintliness, while addressing women’s issues in her writings on medicine, and showing strong Christian sensibilities around social justice. Less a mystic than a seer, with conventional spiritual insight rather than truly revolutionary revelations at her behest. Visionary lifetime of integrating science, art and religion in a unique blending geared towards opening up her abilities at limning her contemporary world through the imagistic language available to her at the time, making her ultimately a figure for the ages, through her highly-developed esthetic and communication skills.


Storyline: The Brahmin bard allows his ugly Other to surface in service of his art, after many a life of burying himself in an unintegrated spiritually-dominated persona.

Robert Lowell (Robert Traill Spence Lowell IV) (1917-1977) - American poet. Outer: Born to Boston Brahmin parents. Related to earlier writers James Russell Lowell (John Kenneth Galbraith) and Amy Lowell (Audre Lord). His overbearing and cold mother was the family’s dominant figure, while his sire was a weak-willed, mumbling naval officer. Had a troubled youth, and was large and aggressive. Nicknamed “Cal” for Caliban and Caligula, and was suspended from Boston Latin for fighting. Tall, handsome and lanky. Belted his father at 19 for a perceived insult to a fiancee. Attended Harvard for a year, then graduated from Kenyon, where he studied with poet John Crowe Ransom. Briefly went to LSU, before becoming editorial assistant in NYC. In his mid-20s, he married writer Jean Stafford, which proved an extremely stormy relationship twixt two highly self-destructive people. Broke her nose twice, once by accident. Converted to Catholicism, and went to jail for five months for being a conscientious objector during WW II. Created an intellectual family of fellow poets and writers to substitute for his real one, with a decided projection of mother, sister and muse on poet Elizabeth Bishop, as he went on to copiously correspond with all of them, in a compulsive need to continually reveal himself to his intimates. His seminal work was probably Lord Weary’s Castle, which was published in 1946 and won a Pulitzer Prize the following year. After 8 years, he parted company simultaneously with both his wife and new-found religion, and suffered the first of several mental breakdowns while in Argentina in 1962, thinking he was the Holy Ghost, while climbing naked onto an equestrian statue in one of Buenos Aires’s main plazas. After his recovery, he married novelist and critic Elizabeth Hardwick in his early 30s, and returned to Boston hoping to reconnect with his roots. One daughter from union, and the couple eventually divorced in 1972. Later published her personal letters. Began writing in a looser and more confessional style, which ushered in a similar poetic mode in the 1960s. Won a Guggenheim fellowship and also served as poetry adviser to the Library of Congress. Had continual affairs, and was a highly abusive personality. A social activist during the 1960s, and friend of politico/poet Eugene McCarthy, he limned an impressive oeuvre of work, marking him as the foremost American poet of the post-WW II generation, despite his acknowledged instability. Refused a White House invitation during the 1960s as a Vietnam War protest. Became a professor of literature at the Univ. of Essex in England in the beginning of 1970s, while struggling with an innate sense of privacy and a compulsion to reveal all about himself and those around him. While working as a visiting professor at All Souls College, Oxford, he fathered a son with British novelist Lady Caroline Hamilton-Temple Blackwood. The duo divorced both their spouses, and wed in 1972, before settling in London, then Kent, then Ireland. Won numerous awards, as well as a second Pulitzer in 1974, in which he limned his love for his bewitching 3rd wife, who had a vampire habit of sucking the souls out of her husbands. Proved crucial in supporting her writing ambitions, but he eventually fled her, after their marriage disintegrated in 1976. Died of a heart attack in a NYC taxi cab, on his way back from the airport to his second wife, while clutching a portrait of Blackwood by her first husband, the prominent portraitist Lucian Freud. Continually revised his work, seeing his re-editing as a further act of inspiration. Inner: Bullying, filled with rage, but also the possessor of a deep poetic sensibility. Called his manic phases, “pathological enthusiasm.” Held an odd internal mixture of the beautiful and the ugly in an attempt to come to grips with his long-time repressed self. Thoroughly emotional thinker. Flasher lifetime of uninhibitedly expressing himself both on page and to society-at-large in an attempt to shake off his repressive religiosity of past go-rounds. Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864) - American writer. Outer: Descended from Puritan immigrants, with one of the infamous hanging judges of the Salem witchcraft trials as an ancestor. Grandfather was a ship captain, as was his father who died on a voyage, when he was 4. Initially lived in seclusion with his mother, and was given to bouts of deep depression throughout his life over the most trivial things. Grew up in the household of his reclusive mother’s parents, while her affluent brothers oversaw his education, encouraging him to read widely. Very handsome, but morbidly shy and reserved. Attended Bowdoin, and saw himself as a writer from an early age, wishing for fame, self-discovery and the establishment of a tradition of a specifically American literature. Lived at home for the next 12 years, and self-published a Gothic romance, before burning every copy he could find. Achieved success at publishing stories, although they were not remunerative, and went to work at Boston Custom House in 1839 for 2 years, then lived on experimental Brook Farm. Married a semi-invalid, Sophia Peabody (Jean Stafford) , in his late 30s, 3 children. His wife initially wanted to be a minister, and had a great love of learning. Outwardly a happy and devoted union, but inwardly a highly competitive marriage, with each trying to dominate the other. Wife was the sister of Elizabeth Peabody, a teacher and promoter of causes, of which he was one. With a family to raise, he did hack-work as an writer and editor, and wrote some children’s tales. Friend of former college classmate and future president Franklin Pierce (Eugene McCarthy). Largely aloof from the active literary and spiritual community of the transcendentalists. Produced his best work during mid-life, including his masterwork, The Scarlet Letter, in 1850. Mounting debts caused him to become a surveyor of the Custom House in 1846, but he lost that job 3 years later, when the Whigs came to power. Moved about often in New England, with a sense of restlessness, and an acute anxiety about finances. When Pierce became president in 1852, he was given the American consulship in England, and later toured Italy for a year and a half. On his return to Concord, he began to age rapidly. Took to writing the figure 64, compulsively, which was the year he died, probably of a brain tumor. His works were distinguished by psychological perception, and an excellent sense of allegory and symbolism. Inner: Held an abiding sense of the impenetrably mysterious nature of existence. Sensitive, anxious, and morbid, with a strong sense of moral sin and a tragic overview of life from his Puritan forbears. Fatalist, saw little hope for the world. Equally, had little use for anyone who did not directly help him. Grim-lipped lifetime of struggling financially, instead of spiritually, as in other lives in this series, while doing battle with himself and his repressed character. William Cowper (1731-1800) - English poet. Outer: Elder son of an Anglican rector, mother died when he was 6. Sent off to a boarding school, where, as a sensitive hypochondriac, he was bullied, and began a lifelong plunge into depression. Educated at Westminster, and studied law, but never practiced it. Engaged to a cousin, Theodora briefly, but began showing signs of mental unbalance, and was forbidden to marry her. When his father died while he was in his mid-20s, the family arranged for an administrative post for him, but the prospect so frightened him, he made a suicide attempt and was confined to an asylum for a year and a half, where he turned to evangelical Christianity for comfort. Sank into acute melancholia, feeling himself cast out of God’s mercy, expecting instantaneous judgment on his accursed soul. On his discharge, he went to live with an evangelical clergyman and his family in 1756, where he saw himself as an adopted son. After the death of the former, he became engaged to marry his widow, Mary Unwin (Jean Stafford), but again suffered melancholia and a profound sense of religious obsession, rejecting the evangelical role offered him. Moved to a neighboring village, and began translating Homer, but continued to be subject to his own roiling internal seas, making another suicide attempt while in the home of an evangelical curate. Spent a year with the latter before returning to Unwin, where he enjoyed a period of stability, writing satires and shorter poems, becoming famous after the publication of Poems II in 1786. Wrote profusely in a variety of forms and was widely read, and, despite his instability, proved to be the forerunner of the romantics. Prodigious letter writer. Lived the rest of his life with Mary Unwin, who became an invalid, following a series of strokes. After her death in 1796 he totally fell apart, feeling he was no longer saved, and died in despair. One of his last works was ‘The Castaway,’ which metaphorically described his own hopelessness and helplessness. Inner: Felt he was forsaken and damned by God. Obsessed with predestined damnation. Melancholic, unable to transcend his faltering sense of spirituality. Castaway lifetime of continual spiritual despair, while trying to reclaim himself through his poetic sensibilities, from the shipwreck of his own sad existence. Robert Southwell (1561-1595) - English poet and martyr. Outer: Father was an illegitimate descendant of an old Roman Catholic family. Served as a collateral ancestor on his mother’s side of poet Percy Bysshe Shelley (Tim Buckley), another shipwrecked castaway. Stolen from his cradle as an infant by a gypsy, but returned. Short and handsome and markedly religious, with elegant manners. Sent at 14 to a Jesuit school in Belgium, then Paris. Received into the Jesuits at 19, and became a prefect of studies at English College in Rome. Ordained in his early 20s, he was sent to England at his request as a missionary, with the avowed aim to become a martyr. At the time, ordained Catholic priests in England for over 40 days were guilty of treason. Spent 6 years to insure his destiny, becoming domestic chaplain to Lady Arundel, whose husband was in the Tower of London. Tricked and imprisoned, but refused to implicate others, despite being tortured, while doing most of his writing during his incarceration. His chief work was St. Peters Complaint, in which he contrasted the spiritual and material worlds through closing events in the life of the Christ. Converted his father and his brother 3 years before he came to trial. Sought to rescue poetry from ‘worldly uses,’ and as was his fervent desire, and was barbarously executed. Inner: Sweet-natured, brilliant and witty. His name was a reflection of his later life in this series, where he would embrace and then reject the same belief system, while unconsciously subjecting himself to a similar internal imprisonment. Deliberately martyred lifetime of actively testing his faith against the cold, cruel political realities of his times. Charles d’Orleans (1394-1465) - French poet. Outer: Nephew of Charles VI (Antonin Artaud) of France. Father was Louis I, duc de Orleans (Cecil B. DeMille), mother, Valentina (Gypsy Rose Lee), was the daughter of the duke of Milan. 4th son. Went with his mother when she left the royal court, and received an excellent education through her auspices. Married his cousin Isabella (Jean Stafford), the widow of Richard II (Richard Nixon) of England in 1408, but she died soon afterwards in childbirth, one daughter from the union. Succeeded to the duchy of Burgundy on his father’s assassination in 1407, although after his mother’s death in 1409, he was forced to defend his position against his enemies. His 2nd union was a political one, to Bonne d’Armagnac, the daughter of the count of Armagnac, in 1410, in order to pursue his sire’s murderers. Both sides sought English help, and he was captured by the English at the Battle of Agincourt in 1415, where he was badly wounded and found among the dead. He remained their prisoner until 1441, losing touch with affairs in France, speaking English and taking some solace in the fact that some of his guardians were sympathetic and cultured people who consoled him during his long incarceration. Finally ransomed by the duke of Burgundy, remaining his virtual captive. Married Marie de Cleves, the niece of the latter, after his 2nd wife died in 1435. Sired 2 daughters and a son, the future Louis XII (Bernard Kouchner), who began the Valois-Orleans line on the French throne. After failures in negotiations between Burgundy and France, and a disastrous campaign in Italy, he retired to Blois, where he made his court a literary center and spent the rest of his life writing verse and entertaining literateurs. Considered one of the last of the medieval poets, with his court verse, which was highly autobiographical and written in French, English and Latin. Always far more interested in form than content, keeping his feelings hidden in preference for the well-shaded, charming word. Inner: Inept warrior and politician, true metier was personal expression. Dungeoned lifetime of being forced to retreat within, despite his royal position, in order to release his internal poet and give it soaring voice, when his mundane actualities demanded the opposite of his person


Storyline: The longtime literary helpmate finally turns successful literateur herself, only to retreat into her own innate unhappiness when life treats her unkindly, while trading in her creativity for that old bete noir of all inventive artists, a parallel, and far greater, capacity for self-destruction.

Jean Stafford (1915-1979) - American writer. Outer: Had a happy childhood. Went to the Univ. of Colorado, where she fell in with the elite Bohemian crowd. In her early 20s, she married unknown poet Robert Lowell, who was 2 years her junior. The union would prove extremely stormy, with his breaking her nose twice in arguments. Also, she proved sexually skittish in the relationship, adding to the tensions twixt the two, which were exacerbated by his instability and her imbibing. During that time, she penned a best-selling novel, “Boston Adventure,” in 1944, and was, for the moment, a literary star, using her own life as improvisational material on which to base the best of her writings. The duo eventually separated and divorced after 8 years, when his reputation was beginning to eclipse hers. Wrote two more novels and children’s books, as well as contributing to numerous magazines and reviews. Briefly married Oliver Jensen, a Life magazine editor, then in 1959, wed New Yorker writer A.J. Liebling, someone who knew who to enjoy himself. He made her “deliriously happy,” but died 4 years into the union, leaving her absolutely bereft. Became an alcoholic and a 2 pack a day smoker, and retreated into his farmhouse in the Hamptons, living largely on alcohol and TV dinners, while embarrassing her dwindling group of friends, with her disconnected alcoholic ramblings. Occasionally would turn up in a clownish getup at parties, adding to her growing pariah status. Wrote book reviews and soft features for Vogue and McCall’s magazines, showing an antipathy towards the burgeoning women’s movement, and a general crankiness. In 1970, she won a Pulitzer prize for a collection of short stories, although her more imaginative pen had been silent for a decade by then. Suffered a stroke in 1976, and was unable to either speak or write coherently for the last 3 years of her unhappy life. Died of cardiac arrest. Inner: Anxious, secretive, and reticent. Sound the retreat lifetime of finally allowing her full creative side to surface, only to find herself quashed by her choice of mates, from which she alcoholically found the trinity of retreat, isolation and self-destruction, as her only viable response. Sophia Hawthorne (Sophia Peabody) (1809-1871) - American helpmate. Outer: Mother was a strong-willed Unitarian, father was a dentist. A semi-invalid since infancy, probably because her sire used mercury as a treatment for teething pains. One of five children, a sister married educator Horace Mann. Originally wanted to be a minister. Her older sister Elizabeth, became an educator and promoter of causes, among them young Nathaniel Hawthorne (Robert Lowell), whom she met through her sibling. The duo were engaged in 1838, and married 4 years later, originally settling in Concord, Mass. 3 children from union. Although the pair proclaimed undying love for one another in their letters, and she continually proclaimed her great happiness over the union, each tried to dominate the other, with her husband alternately tyrannical and submissive, as well as prone to bouts of depression. Also felt that her mate was incapable of giving her the affection she craved, which put much emotional strain on their household. By 1850, Hawthorne had established himself with The Scarlet Letter, insuring a financially, if not emotionally, secure existence afterwards, and they spent another outwardly happy 14 years together before his death in 1864. Moved to England afterwards. Focused on her children afterwards, although found her oldest daughter Una’s rebelliousness a burden. Died of typhoid pneumonia, and was eventually buried separately from her mate. The two were not brought together for a final eternal intermingling until the beginning of the 21st century by their descendants. Inner: Outwardly happy and satisfied, inwardly less so, as a product largely of her times, playing a secondary role as supportive spouse, with her family not quite under her control. Great believer in the power of education. Second banana lifetime of playing the adoring literary helpmate for larger posterity while being acutely aware of her own personal power and lack of saidsame in her intimate relationships. Mary Unwin (1724-1796) - English spouse. Outer: Married an evangelical clergyman, Morley Unwin, and had a family, who took in writer William Cowper (Robert Lowell) in 1756, after his release from an institution, while making him feel as if he were their adopted son. Following the death of her husband in 1767, from a fall from a horse, she became engaged to Cowper, only to see him reject taking her husband’s stead, and move to a nearby village, thanks to his ongoing bouts of melancholia. After his return to her, he enjoyed some sense of stability, although did not marry her because of his ongoing madness. Another widow whom Cowper had befriended joined the household for a while in 1781. Eventually, she became an invalid, after a series of strokes. Following her death, he fell completely apart. Inner: Support lifetime of close association with longtime mate, as an enabler, in preparation for delving into her own creative disjointedness in lives to come. Isabella of Valois (1389-1410) - French queen of England. Outer: Father was Charles VI (Reza Abdoh) of France, mother was Isabeau (Eva Le Gallienne), one of 12 children, including the future Charles VII (Leon Blum), and another future queen of England, Catherine of Valois (Anthony Powell). At 3, her father had his first attack of madness, and at 7, she was whisked away to England to become the 2nd wife of Richard II (Richard Nixon), who was still in deep mourning over the early death of his first spouse Anne (Julie Nixon). Felt he was a handsome knight, and though he paid some attention to her, most of her time was spent in idle loneliness, before her husband suddenly disappeared, and his throne was usurped by his successor, Henry IV (Leslie Hore-Belisha). The latter imprisoned Richard and had him murdered, although she was unaware of the dynamic. No longer queen, she was moved out of Windsor Castle, although the usurper wanted to legitimatize his claim by marrying her to his son, the future Henry V (Winston Churchill), but she refused, realizing with the offer that her husband must be dead. Went into mourning for him, and largely ignored the new regime. Sent back to France by Henry, she married her cousin, Charles duc d’Orleans (Robert Lowell), only to die in the childbirth of a daughter at the age of 20. Inner: Feisty and Pawn lifetime of putting her teenage foot down, and refusing to conform to the wishes of authority, only to die prematurely in yet another hookup with her odd mate, in their ongoing interweaving down through time.


Storyline: The precocious pubescent fiercely maintains his arrested adolescent ways through maturity, to his ongoing downfall and detriment.

Truman Capote (Truman Streckfus Persons) (1924-1984) - American writer. Outer: Mother had been a child-bride, and later became a narcissistic alcoholic. Father was a non-practicing lawyer from an old Alabaman family, who worked as a riverboat purser and then morphed into a failed New Orleans businessman. His mother, who was not suited for the role, hated the sight of her son, calling him “little miss mouse fart,” and often locked him in his room for hours, abusing and humiliating him. Nevertheless, he always felt he was special, and would one day be rich and famous. Taught himself to read and write at 5, and felt his skills at exposition would be his ultimate ticket to a spectacular life. His parents divorced, and he was sent while quite young to live with a trio of eccentric spinsters to whom he was related on his mother’s side in rural Alabama, where he was a neighbor of writer Harper Lee, who used him as one of her characters, Dill Harris, in her best-seller, To Kill a Mockingbird, just as he would use her in his fiction. When his mother remarried, she reclaimed him when he was 9, bringing him to NYC, and then Greenwich, Conn. Took his surname from the Cuban-born textile businessman who became his stepfather and adopted him. Hosted his first party at 7, wishing it to be so grand that everyone would remember him, while feeling like a spiritual orphan. His mother eventually committed suicide when his stepfather was convicted of embezzlement. Went to several private schools, which he intensely disliked, doing quite poorly, and finally dropped out and came to NYC at 17, beginning his career there as a copy boy at the New Yorker magazine. An editor, on seeing him, asked, “What’s that?” 5’4”, with a high-pitched voice and effeminate manner. Wrote short stories and ultimately won four O. Henry awards. The first led to a publishing contract and a breakthrough success in his early 20s with Other Voices, Other Rooms, about the Gothic upbringing of a sensitive southern boy. The androgynous back cover photo of him almost overwhelmed the book and he became a talk-show celebrity as America’s resident sissy, deliberately provoking conservative audiences of the time with his languid, limp-wristed manner, while pursuing the wealthy ladies-who-lunch as his emotional patrons. In the process, he became wealthy and famous himself, a fixture on the haute social scene as a boon gossipy companion. Reached his peak in the mid-1960s with In Cold Blood, a journalistic murder chronicle of a family slaughter in Kansas in 1959, which was later made into a successful movie. Developed a close attachment and identification with one of the killers, Perry Smith, although privately wished for his execution in order to give dramatic conclusion to the story. Never told him the title, and ignored his entreaties to be there at the end. A later film, Capote, would further exploit and distort his relationship with the killers. Claimed a photographic memory for interviews, which fit into his sponge-view of life around him. Began drinking heavily during the writing, and failed to find sobriety or a need to stay sober forever after. Threw a mammoth black-and-white ball for 500 diamond-studded friends at the Plaza Hotel in 1966, during the height of his fame, and never wrote anything of sustained value afterwards. Stayed youthful on the surface for a longtime, then skipped middle-age to suddenly become old and used up. As his weight ballooned, he disintegrated into alcoholism, cocaine, drug abuse and a slovenly appearance, replete with facial tic, while working for the last 20 years of his life on Answered Prayers, an unfinished send-up of many of his former rich’n’famous friends, which irked them no end in the few published chapters that appeared during his lifetime, and made him persona non grata in several posh enclaves. Had a longtime homophile relationship, as well as many seductions, most notably of ordinary men to shock his posh friends as he disintegrated into a small fat mass over the final two decades of his life, via an orgy of pills. Passed on at the home of Joanna Carson, former wife of TV host Johnny Carson. His cause of death was not released at the time, although it was later revealed to be from a pharmaceutical overdose. Wrote a few screenplays and only published 13 volumes, most of them quite slim collections, thanks to frittering away a great deal of his time, in his pursuit of fame and notoriety. Inner: Driven to be his version of a great writer, although too much of his creativity was put into hosting and partying and surface pursuits. Bitchy, addictive personality, with an innate knack for self-publicity, through his performance artist role of the seductive sissy. A child, once again, his entire life, with a distinct revulsion for hard reality, and an equal inability to finish his works, often suddenly ending them, perhaps in fear of their, and his own, death. Fascinated by the rich and famous, viewing style as everything, and substance quite secondary. See-saw lifetime of looking for mother in all the wrong places while following his previously set pattern of extending a disturbing childhood deep into adulthood, in order to wrench literary immortality out of it, only to grow old, rather than up. Horatio Alger, Jr. (1832-1899) - American writer. Outer: Had a strict New England upbringing, as the son of a Unitarian minister. Suffered a nightmarish childhood, thanks to a father who was a caricature Puritan, and allowed him no recreation, just study, discipline and prayer under his supervision, which broke his will and tarnished the rest of his life. Never grew up as a result. Small, fat, pale and sad-eyed, he was known as ‘Holy Horatio’ as a youth. Tutored at home until he was 10, he was finally sent off to a local academy. Graduated from Harvard and went to Paris, where he broke away from his staid earlier life and had affairs with a cafe singer and an Englishwoman. Returned to America and under pressure from his progenitor, entered Harvard Divinity School, getting a degree at 26. Took a disastrous trip to San Francisco, which ended in a bizarre confused retreat to a hill cabin. On returning to New York, he fell in love with a married woman who was on a trip to America to visit her sister. Obsessively pursued and won her only to have her ultimately reject him. Wound up briefly confined in a Paris hospital, afterwards. Also arrested mistakenly for murder in NY, only to be released. Three years later, he was ordained as a minister of a Unitarian church in Massachusetts. After writing several undistinguished novels, he decided to move to NYC in 1866 to devote himself to literature. Did social work at the Newsboys’ Lodging House in New York, in which his relationship to the boys and his only close friend, their superintendent, indicated a repressed desire for men. The accidental death of a young Chinese boy unbent him and he began writing stories for and about young men as a form of self-healing, employing the basic formula of a struggling poor boy succeeding through the dint of hard work. Females were only cardboard characters in his stories, and once the little lads reached successful manhood, their tales abruptly ended. His first prototypical saga, Ragged Dick, was a bestseller in 1868. After two more serials, he became enormously popular and wealthy. Kept the same format with biographies of up-from-scratch statesmen. Always wished to write a great novel, and be seen as an artist, but wound up penning 119 works of remarkable similarity. Spent his last three years with his sister, the only woman in his life with whom he had a normal relationship. Inner: Eternally adolescent, eccentric, love-junkie, with the object of his affections highly varied. Ragged dick lifetime of remaining an eternal adolescent in both work and play, while repressing his true urges in fear of further unsettling his unhappy heart. Lionel Pigot Johnson (1867-1902) - English critic and poet. Outer: 3rd son of an infantry captain. Grandfather was a baronet. Had a leisure class upbringing, with a strong and precocious interest in aesthetics. As an unmanly son of a military man, he probably did not sit well with his father, making for yet another profoundly alienating and arrested childhood. Educated privately, then attended New College, Oxford, and graduated with modest honors, while coming into his own by acting as literary dictator at school. Settled in London, although his outer life was largely uneventful. Drawn to the Catholic Church, he converted in his mid-20s. Aloof, with a great need for seclusion, he led a semi-monastic existence surrounded by books, although he had to deal with the world via journalistic work to pay off debts accrued at Oxford. A homophile, he repressed his sexuality, feeling torn between the flesh and the spirit. Had a strong interest in the Irish question, visiting Ireland often, and probably identifying with it as the oppressed child of a formidable father state. An ascetic, religious lyricist who wrote simple, austere, cerebral poetry, he was also a secret alcoholic, with no need for people, although he valued his intellectual friendships. Died of a fractured skull after slipping on the street. It was discovered afterwards that his genitalia had never developed beyond adolescence. Inner: Exceedingly fastidious, meticulous and ultra-sensitive. Extremely youthful, with an all-around arrested development, including his hands and feet, which were severely crippled for several years. Insomniac, slept during the day. Solitary lifetime of extending and retarding his youth into adulthood, while dealing with his freakish nature through a sense of cerebral spirituality, rather than a sloppy sensuality as he would in his next 2 lives in this series. Rivarol (Antoine Rivaroli) (1753-1801) - French writer. Outer: Son of an innkeeper and schoolmaster of Italian origin. Had a modest upbringing, but was well-read. Taught at Lyon, then went to Paris in his late 20s, where his wit, learning and deft conversational skills got him into high social circles. In an age when riposte and ridicule were deemed the highest of social skills, he blazed his dissipated way through French society with his ability to bemuse and belittle, although his artistic output initially suffered for his many diversions. Wrote a discourse on the universality of the French language, and won the Berlin Academy prize for it. Did a translation with his own commentary of Dante’s Inferno, showing acute insight rather than scholarship. Wrote cleverly and cattily and became a noted phrase-maker with his quips and his barbed wit, never really offending the subjects of his affronts. A staunch royalist and elitist at the outbreak of French Revolution, he was eventually forced to flee in 1792 and spent the last decade of his life in Brussels and London, which he found uncongenial, and finally Germany, where most of his energy went into hobnobbing with the aristocracy. One of the last of the penetrating satirical and moral wits of his age. Many of his projects were talked about, but never completed, as he continued to dissipate his output with a greater need for easy oral exposition than the far more difficult task of putting quill to paper. Inner: Bitchy social butterfly, with the ability to elevate gossip to memorable prose. Extremely egotistic and conceited with a surety about his perceptions that made them indelible. Catty lifetime of living by his wit and his perceptions, before descending into a series of stilted childhoods in order to explore their repercussions in uncomfortable adulthood.


Storyline: The prolific portraitist raises his elegantly rendered observations to new heights, as an ongoing quintessential chronicler of the intellectual and emotional ferment of his times.

John Updike (1932-2009) - American writer. Only child of a telephone cable splicer who lost his job during the Depression, moved in with his father-in-law and became a high school math teacher and Lutheran church deacon. Mother was a would-be writer, although his early passion was drawing. Stammered as a child, and had a small town Pennsylvania upbringing, which was the basis for many of his works. Displayed a strongly developed esthetic from the beginning, with the desire to be a writer. Tall and hawk-nosed. Educated at Harvard, where he was president of the Lampoon, and graduated summa cum laude, before spending a year in England at the Ruskin School of Art, Oxford. His social skills, coupled with a ready eye and an arch pen would allow him a subsequent relatively smooth ride through life, steadily accruing to his outer successes without having to confront any untenable parts of himself, unlike so many others who operate on a similar high level of expression. Began to write for the New Yorker, ultimately composing that magazine’s “Talk of the Town” column for many years. Married in his early 20s to Mary Entwistle Pennington, two sons and two daughters from the union. Divorced in 1975, he married Martha Bernhard in 1977. Initially published poetry, then turned to the novel, becoming the skilled limner of small town East coast middle-class American life, most notably with his ‘Rabbit’ quartet, winning a Pulitzer Prize in 1982 for Rabbit is Rich, the third in the series, and then a second for Rabbit at Rest in 1991, the series finale. His elegant sense of language was continually been well-received by the reading public, while he articulated popular concerns with the moral ambiguities of religion and marriage. Proved to be extremely fecund, with over 50 volumes of essays, over 20 novels, a play, biography and criticism, as well as a Jewish alter ego, Bech, that were always able to find their audience, while he was able to remain a dean of American letters who rarely had to come down from his well-wrought ivory tower. Nevertheless, he was willing to project himself into far afield characters as he grew older, in an attempt to expand his own vision, which had grown increasingly pessimistic over the waste and decline in American life. Died of lung cancer in a hospice near his home. Won 2 National Book Awards, as well, in 1964 for The Centaur and in 1982, for Rabbit is Rich, while being a six-time finalist for that coveted award. Inner: Quiet, contemplative, with an unerring ear for the small details of life. Great painter with words, using language for its color and tone as much as its meaning. Kept typewriters in 7 rooms of his house, so as to always have them immediately available. Hyperrational lifetime of reaching a vast audience with his acute sensibilities, celebrated cerebrality and gift for articulate exposition, after earlier having allowed himself to be overwhelmed by his irrationality, in order to let his greater imagination loose. William Dean Howells (1837-1920) - American writer. Outer: Son of a Welsh editor and unsuccessful itinerant printer, who was an anti-slavery journalist, as well as a Quaker turned Swedenborgian. Innately nervous and insecure, his childhood climaxed in a series of nervous breakdowns which filled him with rage and despair. Largely self-educated, he went to work as a typesetter for his father’s paper at 9. The family moved numerous times to add to his uncertainties, and he eventually became a reporter, while teaching himself languages and the classics. Wrote the campaign biography of Abraham Lincoln, which opened up his cultural circle to include the eminent New Englanders of his time, where he went to live. Burly and square-jawed with a walrus mustache, he was physically the opposite of his interior. Always felt himself to be a sham, despite his public successes. Appointed as a consul to Venice, which gave him the security to marry to marry Elinnor Mead in his mid-20s. His union to an artistic wife was happy and longlasting on the surface, although she suffered from neurasthenia and he complimented her disabilities with his own continuing neuroses, two daughters and a son from the union. Chronicled the shifting fortunes of America in transition from an agricultural to an industrial nation, with a particular interest in personal interrelationships and the shame of self-consciousness, which he often felt. Published nearly 100 books, and had a brilliant record as editor of the Atlantic monthly, giving it a national identity. Close friend of Mark Twain (Kurt Vonnegut) and Henry James (Cormac McCarthy), whom he encouraged during his Atlantic run. Had one final psychological breakdown in his late 40s, which opened him up literarily to the toll of human suffering that industrial capitalism had caused in America, a phenomenon he tried to redress in his later fiction. After an unpopular political stance, he moved to NYC in the 1890s, and continued his prolific output, although eventually fell out of fashion, with his finely rendered and detailed portraits of middle America. Elected the first president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1908, and helped establish the NAACP the following year. From 1900 until his death, he wrote the “Easy Chair” column for Harper’s. His later fiction was far less inspired. Took stands on issues into old age, marching for women’s suffrage in 1909 at his daughter’s urging. Died of pneumonia in his sleep at home. Inner: Deeply moral, and a utopian at heart, with a telling critical facility for contemporary life and fellow literateurs. Also highly neurotic, plagued by fears and anxieties, including a profound disbelief in himself. His middle name was professorially prophetic through his life role as dean of American writers of his time. Uneasy chair lifetime of experiencing power through his adeptness of observation and use of language, while shaking his surface sociability with an unintegrated interior that demanded a creative outlet to redress itself. Samuel Richardson (1689-1761) - English writer. Outer: Son of a craftsman carpenter, from yeoman stock. One of 9 siblings. Meant for the church but did not have the finances for school, leaving him with a meager education, despite showing a distinct skill at writing from an early age. At 17, he apprenticed to a printer, and followed that trade. In his early 30s, he married Martha Wilde, the daughter of his master, and set up in his own shop. After his wife’s death a decade late, he married the sister of a bookseller. All 5 sons, as well as the daughter from his first marriage either died in infancy or in their first three years, with three of the sons serially bearing his name. A decade after they were wed, his wife joined her unfortunate brood, and he quickly wed Elizabeth Leake. His 2nd marriage also claimed 2 children in infancy, while 4 more daughters grew to adulthood. Became successful in business with a series of country estates that enabled him to socialize with the cultural eminences of his time. Began writing in his 40s, and produced one of the first English novels, a sentimental epistolary tale called Pamela, which was shamelessly satirized by Henry Fielding (Tom Stoppard). Expanded his circle, continued his writing, and was elected as Master to the Stationers’ Company and in 1760, he bought a half-share into a business as law printer to the king. Finally fell ill to nervous ailments brought about by the accumulation of his family tragedies, and died of apoplexy. Inner: Largely hidden being, whose interior went into his novels rather than his life. Probably repressed his true feelings, which caused them to erupt at life’s end and consume him. Lost children indicate many lost childhoods of his own, and a need to grieve for his own ongoing sadness, as well as an acting out and release, which he did his next go-round in this series. Mourning lifetime of struggling with personal loss played out against public success, and trying unsuccessfully to balance his sentimental interior twixt the two. Samuel Daniel (c1562-1619) - English poet. Outer: Son of a music-master. Educated at Magdalen Hall, Oxford, without taking a degree, then visited Italy, before becoming a tutor to a young earl and the daughter of a countess. Published his first collection of sonnets when he was 30, and a tragedy two years later. Composed numerous masques for court festivals, as well as another tragedy, and a defense of the English language as poetically perfect. Nothing known about his wife, other than the fact that he did marry. In his early 40s, he was made inspector of the Children of the Queen’s Revels, a company of boy actors, a position he held for the rest of his life. Also wrote an epic his/story of the houses of York and Lancaster. Although his work was criticized for its “sweetness of rhyming,” by rival Ben Jonson (Norman Mailer) it was also praised for the same reasons, as well as for his purity of language. Great favorite of the romantics several centuries later. Around 1610, he retired to a farm and worked on a his/story of England the rest of his life. Inner: Strongly opinionated, ardent patriot, with the belief in an absolute monarchy, and reverence for the English language. Modest and unassuming. Little passion or ardor in his work, but much tenderness. Adroit but unchallenging lifetime of esthetic expression in a variety of modes, while keeping to his own surfaces, thereby allowing him to enjoy power and prestige unencumbered by emotional unrest.


Storyline: The literary light continually reintegrates herself around her imaginative projections, while raising her artistic sensibilities to dizzying heights, and her own self-view to a far more grounded level.

Zadie Smith (Sadie Smith) (1975) - British writer and critic. Outer: Of mixed race Jamaican and British descent. Mother was a Jamaican immigrant who became a model, then a child psychotherapist, father was an English photographer. 2 younger brothers, as well as two older half-siblings, a brother and sister from her sire’s first marriage. Had a middle-class upbringing in a working-class suburb of NW London. Her parents divorced when she was 12. Very conscious of her blackness, she had an angst-ridden ride through her teens, deliberately misbehaving to give voice to her sense of otherness, while changing her name at 14 to Zadie as emblem of her nonconforming otherness. Wrote poetry and short stories and tap-danced, while reading voraciously, particularly 19th century English authors, with the intent of becoming a write herself. Tall, toothsome and large-eyed. Majored in English Literature at King’s College, Cambridge, and won the prestigious Rylands Prize for writing while there. Became a literary commodity, won a huge contract, and made a sensational literary debut at 24 with “White Teeth,” a tour de force view of cultural identity in contemporary North London, focusing on three intertwined families of various ethnic stripe, which bowled over both critics and the public alike, selling more than a million copies. Uncomfortable with the subsequent role thrust upon her as an expert of multiculturalism, she subsequent won her share of detractors at her unwillingness to be a media darling. Continued her education as a graduate fellow at Radcliffe, with the determination to become a great writer, a status she felt she had not yet achieved. Deliberately set out in her less well-received second novel, “The Autograph Man,” to show her versatility, as well as her ambivalence about fame, by lampooning it, while once again combing her imagination to project on different types and crawl inside them, from the perspective of pure projection. Her third novel, “On Beauty,” a riff on E.M. Forster’s “Howard’s End,” saw a return to her original potential, and her remarkable ability to get inside her characters, through an innate insight into the human condition, coupled with a finely tuned ear for dialogue. In 2004, she married Irish poet Nick Laird, daughter and son from the union. Held a number of guest editorships and taught fiction in NYC at Columbia, before becoming a tenured professor of fiction at NYU in 2010. Her fifth novel, 2016’s well-received “Swing Time,” was her first written in the first person as a means of exploring her characters, in limning the racial barriers that dance can or cannot transcend. Inner: Extremely self-critical and cerebral. Uninterested in fame or fortune, or merely being good, when greatness is within her grasp, with the gifts to make that goal a distinct possibility. Subject to both highly flattering praise and such canards as “hysterical realism.” Painterly pen-in-hand lifetime of trying to ascend the literary ladder to its topmost rungs, while unconsciously drawing all her invisible writerly personae from the past together within her, as a contemporary combination of them all. Zora Neale Hurston (1891-1960) - American writer. Outer: Of African/American descent. Fabricated many aspects of her life, including birthdate and place. Daughter of a Baptist preacher, who was also a three-time mayor of the first incorporated black township in America. Mother was a schoolteacher. Had a stable, comfortable, supportive upbringing until her mother died when she was 13. Tales of “lying” sessions heard when she was a child affected her deeply. Fiercely proud of her African heritage, which was nurtured by the people around her. Her father remarried, while she joined a traveling Gilbert & Sullivan theater company in her teens as a maid and wardrobe assistant. Left the troupe in Baltimore to complete high school, then entered Howard Univ. Wound up in NYC just prior to the time of the Harlem Renaissance in the 1920s. Studied anthropology at Columbia Univ. under Franz Boas, who encouraged her to return to her hometown to collect folk-tales. Became an ethnologist, traveling to Haiti to study voodoo. Carried a pearl-handled pistol in her sojourns through the South while collecting material. Decided she would rather deal with her heritage as a humanist than a scholar, and began steeping herself in African folklore. Always presented the positive side of African-American experience, publishing her first novel in 1934. Had two failed marriages, to Herbert Sheen from 1927 to 1931, and to Albert Price III from 1938 to 1943, and difficulty in being a traditional wife. Her second husband was 23 to her 48. Became a celebrated and influential writer, with 4 novels, 100 short stories and anthropological articles, as well as the classic feminist play, Their Eyes Were Watching God, and was on the faculty of North Carolina College for Negroes. Wrote her autobiography, Dust Tracks on the Road in 1942. Opposed the Supreme Court’s 1954 school desegregation decision as condescending, while declaring in print that slavery was her price for civilization. Towards the end of her life, her income dropped and she was forced to take menial jobs in small towns in Florida, returning to her roots. Eventually suffered a series of strokes and entered a welfare home, because she was too proud to ask for help from friends, although with their assistance, they allowed her to spend her last days at home, where she died of heart failure. In 1973, writer Alice Walker placed a headstone on her unmarked grave. Inner: Lively, proud, defiantly her own woman, taking in stride both the positives and negatives of her life. Flamboyant, charismatic, difficult, self-creating and curiously conservative. Ingrained fabricator, with a great need for self-invention and subterfuge. Total immersion lifetime of recreating the black experience through directly living it, rather than projecting on it as she did earlier in this series, while deepening her own art of exposition. Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811-1896) - American writer. Outer: Seventh of nine children of well-known preacher Lyman Beecher (Adam Clayton Powell, Sr.), sister Catharine (Richard Linklater) and brother Henry (Adam Clayton Powell, Jr.) became known in their own respective right, as an educator and a scandal-rid charismatic of the cloth. After her mother died when she was young, an uncle and aunt guided her education, as well as her brothers and sisters, who also taught one another, while her father remarried and had three more sons and a daughter. Wrote letters and journals, and composed for a little literary group called the Semi-Colon club, who read her works aloud. Never understood her father’s sin and damnation sermons, but loved him anyway, although her happiest times were those spent away from him. Had a strong fantasy life as a youngster, which stayed with her, and was always a hard worker. In her mid-20s, despite feeling little for him, she married Calvin Ellis Stowe, a poor, frail biblical scholar, professor and widower, whose departed wife had been her closest friend, and had twins, with 7 children in all, most of whom led unhappy lives. Practiced birth control by abstinence and separate travel, often visiting relatives to relieve the frustrations she felt in her marriage. Her husband was very demanding and critical, leaving the supplemental support of the family to her through her writings, although she was financially impractical. Did not begin writing seriously until her 40s, after singlehandedly moving her family back east, following the death of her 6th child, a son, from cholera. Became involved in the abolition cause, and caused a sensation in 1852 with Uncle Tom’s Cabin, a sentimental take on slavery, which was second only to the Bible in the world readership of the time. Received hate mail from the South over it, but was a huge celebrity everywhere else Later, when she was introduced to Pres. Abraham Lincoln, he said, “So this is the little woman who made this big war.” On her second visit to England, she befriended the profligate poet Byron’s widow, and revealed his incestuous relationship with his sister. Much sought after as a propaganda political tool, while struggling with her own religious beliefs against the tragedies of her family. Her eldest son died by drowning, her youngest also made an early exit, and there were strains galore in her marriage throughout its duration. Very disturbed that her eldest had not been ‘saved,’ as well as by her brother, Henry Ward Beecher’s well-publicized adulterous behavior. Wrote continuously, with a religious fervor and abstract preaching in all her works. Slipped into senility the last dozen years of her life, while becoming more and more withdrawn as she grew older. Her husband died a decade before her, and eventually she not only stopped writing, but speaking as well. At the end she suffered brain congestion and partial paralysis, and died in her own bed surrounded by her family. Her last words were “I love you,” to her nurse, a male nephew. Inner: Clever, evangelical, with a gift for far-reaching storytelling, as well as the ability to limn archetypes. Never saw herself as a crusader, or an extremist, but rather a reformer, with an unconscious evangelical undercurrent to all she wrote. Cabin fever lifetime of feeling the slavery of her womanhood, and dealing with it through exposition and spiritual release, while expanding her storytelling abilities. Anne Dudley Bradstreet (c1612-1672) - English/American writer. Outer: Father, Thomas Dudley (Thomas E. Dewey) was the chief steward to a Puritan English earl, allowing her to grow up in privileged circumstances. Contracted smallpox at 16, and the same year, she married Simon Bradstreet, a protégé of the earl’s and two years later sailed with him and her parents on a tumultuous three month voyage for America, to live in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Although initially put off by the primitive nature of the colony, she eventually compromised herself to it, supporting her husband’s busy career as he twice held the governorship of the colony. Had 8 children, moved frequently within the colony, and wrote poetry between her chores as mother and hostess. Her poems, which were largely imitative, were published in England without her knowledge, and though they were rudimentary, they were the first from the colonial shores of America, giving her a special place in the American literary pantheon. Her later poems had more of a spiritual richness to them, as she developed as a writer, and learned how to limn the more personal aspects of her life. Died of consumption. The poems published after her death cemented her reputation as a graceful writer of occasionally moving verse. Inner: Warm, frank, highly expressive but unassuming. Support lifetime of expanding on her powers of communication, while celebrating her spirituality and maternality through written exposition.


Storyline: The witnessing warrior goes and tells it on the mountain as a challenge to the world to love him as he is, no matter the alien uniqueness he chooses to embrace.

mJames Baldwin (James Arthur Jones) (1924-1987) - American writer and social critic. Outer: Of African/American descent. Never knew his real father, while his stepfather, whom his mother married in 1927, was a laborer and an embittered puritanical weekend preacher, who ultimately became paranoid and insane. His mother worked as a domestic, and he was the eldest of her 9 children. Grew up in poverty in Harlem, and began writing in junior high school, where one of his teachers was Harlem Renaissance poet Countee Cullen, who pointed him in the direction of penning fiction, rather than poetry. Always searching for a father figure, as well as love. At 14, he embraced the Pentecostal revivalist Church as a means of quelling his own projected sense of internal and external evil, and became a teenage preacher for 3 years, until he walked out of a service to go to a matinee and never returned, feeling himself a hypocrite. Had his first real homophile relationship with a Harlem racketeer at 16, and remained forever grateful for the validation and love he gave to him, although quit both him and the church in fear of retributive gossip. Graduated from prestigious DeWitt Clinton High School, then did menial labor, to help his mother and younger siblings after the death of his stepfather, and settled in Greenwich Village, where he wrote and educated himself, while trying to come to terms with his same-sex proclivities and his blackness. Richard Wright became his mentor in 1944, and helped him get a fellowship in 1948, although he later had to extricate himself from his influence. At 24, he moved to Paris for 8 years, and later became a transatlantic commuter, living in the south of France and NYC. Came to notice initially with his literary essays. His first novel, and probably his best work, Go Tell It On the Mountain, which was published in 1953 and largely autobiographical, brought him acclaim. His second novel, Giovanni’s Room, had no black characters, and, instead dealt with a homophile American in Paris. Continually tried articulating the alien experience of being an African-American in a blatantly racist country, although, unlike other black writers, wrote as an American in a highly divisive society, addressing his country-at-large for its larger faults, seeing race and gender as artificial divides. Published his first collection of essays, "Notes of a Native Son" in 1955, which insured his reputation. Made several suicide attempts, and also had numerous violent love affairs. His works continually explored the love relationships between his characters. Returned to the U.S. and became involved in the civil rights movement, as an essayist, playwright, activist and novelist, and angry articulator of that struggle during the late 1950s and early 1960s. His essays were highly moralistic and subjective, and his later works were not as well-received as his earlier writings, perhaps because of his celebrity, although he continued his prolific output his entire life. Spent much of the 1960s in Istanbul, and later the south of France. His self-imposed exile, particularly over his last two decades, distanced him from America, and he lost much of his perceptive eye in the process. Died at his southern France home of stomach cancer, emblematic of his own power and powerlessness. Buried in Westchester County in NY state. Inner: Extremely sensitive, highly emotional and honest, with grace, wit and a deep sense of integrity. Held a dual draw towards art and social responsibility, and constantly reflected the tensions twixt the two. Angry and articulate risk-taker, with the doubly alienating stance of race and sexual preference. Saw himself as a witness to African-American suffering. Christian moralist in a Christ-ian sense, with his most abiding emotion that of moral indignation. Wave-making lifetime of opening himself up to his own long-boiling rage as a socially conscious chronicler of love as the glue that connects everyone on the Earth plane, while dealing with his own considerable love-lorn ire in the process. mWilliam Wells Brown (c1816-1884) - American writer and reformer. Outer:Son of the cousin of a white slaveholder and an African-American mother. The latter had 7 different children by 7 different fathers. Taken to St. Louis at the age of 10 and hired out on a Mississippi River steamboat. Afterwards he was employed by an anti-slavery editor. While working on a steamboat, he escaped to Ohio at the age of 19, aided by a Quaker whose name he took. Then worked as a steward on Lake Erie steamboats and helped many fugitive slaves escape to Canada. Married Elizabeth Spooner, a free African-American woman in his early 20s, two surviving daughters from the union, which soon fell apart, because of his focus on his career. Read widely in his spare time, while thinking of moving to Cuba or Haiti. In the 1840s he was a lecturer for the Western New York and Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Societies. A highly effective speaker, he combined both pathos and humor in his talks, always drawing large crowds. Also supported other movements of the time, such as temperance and world peace. Visited England at the end of the decade, where he stayed for five years, supporting himself giving lectures, then represented the American Peace Society at the Peace Congress in Paris. Penned his autobiography, Narrative, as well as a play and several his/storical works in praise of the struggles of those of African descent to overcome obstacles in a European dominated world. Credited as the first African-American to write a novel, a play and a book of African-American his/story. Lived in Boston and practiced medicine the last 19 years of his life, although it was the least successful endeavor of his many undertakings. Known as Dr. Brown, at his death. Inner: Dignified, witty, likable, with a pronounced sense of humor. Largely traditional, employing the conventional standards of the time to his mode of expression, making him far more the expositor than the artist. Activist lifetime as a witness dedicated to the upliftment of African-American existence in America through the direct experience of slavery and self-emancipation, with the ability to render his experience into uplifting language. mJupiter Hammon (c1720-c1800) - African/American poet. Outer: African origins unknown. Owned as a child by a Long Island family, he suffered a rheumatic disorder at 10. Inherited by his original owner’s son, and eventually was passed down to his family’s next generation. Allowed to attend school, which greatly enhanced his innate ability with words. Like his masters, he was a devout Christian, and was influenced by the religious revivalism of the time. Published his initial piece of poetry in 1760, making him the first person of African descent to see print in the New World. During the Revolutionary War, he lived in Connecticut. Acknowledged fellow black poet Phyllis Wheatley (Lorraine Hansberry) in his next published work, some 17 later. Best remembered for An Address to the Negroes of the State of NY, in which he urged the freeing of young slaves. The end of his life is unknown, and there is a possibility he was freed in old age. Inner: Strong religious emphasis, with a powerful obsession with salvation. Bore the burden of slavery with patience, but despised the system. Immersed lifetime of being direct witness to the early oppression of Africans in the Americas, as part of his pathway to both free himself and maintain a continuous identification with those still not yet emancipated.


Storyline: The self-expressive wicca casts her unusual spells via the printed page, but shows herself powerless in the arena of her private life, and winds up the victim of her tendencies toward self-immolation at the stake of public opinion.

Shirley Jackson (1916-1965) - American writer. Outer: Mother was the daughter and granddaughter of prominent California architects. Father was an English immigrant who became president of a lithography firm. Made her entrance into the world as the unsuccessful result of her mother’s attempt to abort her. Proved to be a restless, high-strung, difficult, overweight child, with psychic abilities and the sense of being an eternal outsider. Used reading and writing as her escape, retreating into her own inner world. Family moved to Rochester, N.Y., where she suffered further alienation, and began an interest in witchcraft. Flunked out of the Univ. of Rochester, defied her parents and enrolled at Syracuse Univ, where she met her husband, Stanley Edgar Hyman, a Jewish literary critic. Her parents were horrified at the match as were his, 2 daughters and 2 sons from the union. Anarchic housekeeper, with her husband a domestic tyrant, alternately teaching and terrifying her, while protecting, enraging and encouraging her. Consumed enormous amounts of coffee, candy, tranquilizers and amphetamines, in an unconsciousness wiccan attempt to alter her unhappy reality. The family moved to Bennington, Vt. when her husband accepted a teaching post there, and then he had numerous hurtful infidelities, as she grew dumpier and less attractive. Both were alcoholics, and unwilling to abate their excesses. Despite her subsequent literary successes, she was always tortured by self-doubt. Best known for her shocking story, “The Lottery,” published in The New Yorker in 1948, about a town that relieved its tensions by choosing one of its inhabitants for sacrificial death. The tale elicited widespread outrage when it was published, but probably reflected her own buried past. Relations with her town deteriorated when she accused one of its teachers of abusing her students. Despite an undisciplined life, she was able to make herself sit for 3 hours a day and write. Suffered from arthritis, colitis and bronchial problems, and was unable to leave the house, before being diagnosed as having acute agoraphobia. Subject to severe depression as well. Started healing, then died in her sleep of cardiac arrest, and her husband remarried a year later. Cremated with her ashes ultimately in possession of her youngest son. Inner: Modest, quiet, unassuming and retiring. Able to write with virtually no revision. Profoundly alienated, addictive personality, filled with self-loathing, with her work as her singular satisfactory release. Burnt at her own stake lifetime of eating herself alive to see where it would take her both emotionally and literarily. Kate Chopin (1851-1904) - American writer. Outer: Of Irish and French stock. Mother was a society woman of unusual beauty and force. Father was a successful businessman who died when his daughter was a child. Used to climb up to the attic and read, which was her favorite refuge from reality. Her schooling was irregular, and she became one of the belles of St. Louis, and married Oscar Chopin, a cotton merchant, in 1870, moving to St. Louis with him. Had 5 sons over the next decade, as her husband became a plantation manager of both his and his sister’s estates. After a daughter was born, her husband died, and her mother wanted to reunite the family back in St. Louis. Although she dearly loved the plantation, she sold it. Her first novel was amateurish, but after studying the French masters, she improved her stylistics immeasurably and found her metier in short stories, which were sympathetic, delicate and restrained. Best known story, “The Awakening,” about a young woman’s sexual and artistic longings, was attacked by provincial critics for its sensuousness and forced her to lay aside her pen. Died of a brain hemorrhage. Able to write with virtually no revision. Inner: Modest, quiet, unassuming and retiring. Powerless lifetime of extreme sensitivity, both in her art and in her inability to transcend spurious criticism, forcing her to become insensate the next time around in this series, in order to further develop her inner voice. Mary Ann Lamb (1764-1847) - English writer. Outer: Mother was invalided, father was a scrivener, and the family was tainted by madness and poverty. Had little formal education, other than the books she read on her own and was forced to live a cramped existence centered round her family. Third of seven children, most of whom would die in infancy, with three surviving, including writer Charles Lamb (Mark Twain). Along with her much younger brother, she was a close friend of poet Samuel Coleridge (Ezra Pound), much of her life. Wrote poetry as a means of communicating with Charles, while caring for her mother, and working as a seamstress as part of the impoverished family support. In her early 30s, in a spate of manic-depressive madness, she stabbed her paralyzed mother to death through the heart with a carving knife after chasing her young sewing apprentice around the kitchen. Placed under her brother’s care for the rest of his life, to escape being sent to an asylum, after she was tried and adjudged a lunatic. Collaborated with her sibling on several works, including a retelling of Shakespeare’s plays for children, while also penning an epistolary work about motherless girls in an attempt to expiate some of her guilt over what she had done. Despite further episodes and occasional asylum stints, she and her sibling had a highly social life with London’s culterati, as she directed her own literary salon. Moved from London later on and began to take care of a young orphan, Emma, raising her through to marriage. Her episodes would continue, as would her periodic asylum stays. Following her brother’s death in 1834, she steadily deteriorated over the last 13 years of her life, losing her hearing as well as her will to live, before disappearing totally into her long-suffering mind. Inner: Highly intelligent and affectionate, but also out of control and unable to contain her intense emotionality. Enjoyed some creative balance and stimulation, but most of her existence was sore oppressed by her moods. Her mother probably represented her own deep-seated inability to conform to societal norms and had to be destroyed. Matricidal lifetime of acting out her self-destructive draws in her ongoing dance between creativity and self-destruction.


Storyline: The trenchant teacher displays a great heart for learning and disseminating information, but his limitations in the emotional realm detract from the full realization of his gifts as a profound mind capable of far deeper penetration of his material.

Edmund Wilson (1895-1972) - American critic and writer. Outer: Only child of a successful railroad lawyer who spent his time indulging in his own neurotic hypochondria and nervous breakdowns, while also serving for a time as New Jersey’s attorney general. His mother, who became partially deaf, nicknamed him ‘Bunny,’ which stayed with him his entire life. Grew up shy, and lonely, with books as his singular companion. A voracious reader, he steeped himself in literary his/story even as a teen. Educated at Princeton, where he experienced his first orgasm, while reading a book as a senior in college, and was so taken aback by the experience, he went to see a doctor. After school, he worked briefly as a newspaper reporter for the NY Sun. Served in a French hospital as an orderly during WW I, and then worked in U.S. intelligence. Afterwards, he became the managing editor for Vanity Fair, showing keen prescience in his literary tastes. Didn’t lose his virginity until the age of 25, with the poetess Edna St. Vincent Millay, and then felt more than compelled to make up for lost time. Became literary editor of the New Republic in 1926, which allowed him to expand into the political and social. Had a nervous breakdown in his early 30s. Showed great interest in the works of Karl Marx and Sigmund Freud, which he incorporated into his own writings, which were less the product of brilliant analysis than they were of wide-spread research, which he would then weave into deft biographical portraiture, with a particularly keen eye for the written word. Married 4 times, beginning in his late 20s to Mary Blair, an actress. Divorced her after 7 years, while his 2nd marriage to Margaret Danby ended in the accidental death of his wife from a fall. His 3rd marriage, in 1938, was to writer Mary McCarthy, some 17 years his junior, and ended in divorce after 8 years. Both were physically abusive to one another. 3 children from his various unions. Drank heavily, but always was able to emerge in the morning clear-headed. His 4th marriage in his mid-40s was to Elena Mumm Thornton, the daughter of a German father and Russian mother, and 11 years his junior, and proved to be mutually satisfying. Wrote voluminously on everything imaginable, with a special interest in literature and politics. His favorite work was his only best-seller, “Memoirs of Hecate County,” a recounting in part of a long affair he had had in the 1920s with a taxi dancer. Concerned with the social, psychological and political conditions behind literary ideas. Enjoyed a far greater role as a teacher via his pen than as a deep thinker. In 1943, he became the book reviewer for the New Yorker, although by decade’s end he had tired of contemporary literature, and turned his acute eye afterwards on the past. Taught himself Hebrew to read and comment on the Dead Sea scrolls, and also kept notebooks and diaries, detailing his married sex life. Despite his pre-eminence as the foremost literary critic of his times, he refused to give interviews. Towards the end of his career, he wrote memoirs of his family and published his journals. The death of his mother in 1951 left him financially more secure, although he remained a creature of the 19th century. Never learned to drive, or even type, and in his various sexual assignations, often kept his garters on in bed. In his 70s, in failing health, he was still carrying on an affair with the wife of his dentist, while also having make-out sessions in the library of the Princeton Club. His last years were spent in virtual seclusion with his last wife in upstate NY, the Caribbean and Cape Cod, drinking and writing. Felt largely out of place in the world by life’s end, and died of a heart condition. Inner: Grumpy, compulsive recorder, aloof, but extremely perceptive literateur. Principled atheist, intellectual bully, competitive with men, gallant with women, often absent-minded. Drinker and philanderer, with a nasty cast to his intelligence. Dignified, candid, incessant compiler of information. Saw life in terms of his ability to record it, preferring language to emotion in his assessment of things. Always wanted to be a novelist or poet, and hated the term critic, preferring to think of himself as a journalist. Absinthe-minded professor lifetime of serving as a cultural teacher for his time, although his human failings and distance prevented him from becoming a more fully realized thinker and expositor. Thomas Carlyle (1795-1881) - English his/storian. Outer: Eldest son of a stone mason turned carpenter with strong Calvinist values. Very attached to his family and siblings. His father wanted him to be a minister, and he studied at the Univ. of Edinburgh, but felt he had more of an aptitude for math than the ministry. Became a math teacher, didn’t like it, and returned to Edinburgh to study law, liked that even less, and became a roving tutor, struggling deeply within over his confused sense of the spiritual. Found refuge in learning German and reading German literature. In his early 30s, he married one of his former pupils, Jane Welsh (Mary McCarthy), after she first rejected his proposal, initially living on a small estate she owned. Rocky relationship twixt the duo, despite the fondness that the two had for one another. Probably impotent, although the canard was never proven. Struggled financially, and had difficulty in earning money off of his philosophic works. Began a his/story of the French Revolution, which was to be his most enduring work. The almost completed manuscript accidentally burned after loaning it to philosopher John Stuart Mill (John Keynes), but he cheerfully began it again and finished it, securing his reputation. Viewed events as divine judgments, and was a great respecter of the heroes of his/story. Sought passion in his work, since he lacked it in his life. Appointed rector of Edinburgh Univ., but after his wife died in 1866, he was unable to muster an interest in life, or write very much, since she played a pivotal role as his editor. His last decade and a half was spent in morbid brooding. Inner: Imperious, melancholic, temperamental. Saw his/story in terms of repeated precedents. Deeply religious, although without a base to define his own spiritual longings. Burnt out lifetime of putting his passions on the printed page, and finding virtually everything else unsatisfactory for his peculiar needs for high drama and divine inspiration. Jean d’Alembert (Jean le Rond d’Alembert) (1717-1783) - French encyclopediast. Outer: Illegitimate son of the novelist Claudine de Tencin (Claire Booth Luce) and an army officer. Abandoned by his mother on the steps of St. Jean-Le-Rond chapel a few days after his birth, from which he took his name, later adding d’Alembert. Adopted by the wife of a glazier, who was indifferent to him, although his father took some interest in his education. Raised in humble circumstances. Educated at a Jansenist school, showing a remarkable intelligence, then studied law, but never practiced, instead he devoted himself to science and mathematics, writing numerous works on the 2 subjects, and coming up with a law of mechanics known as d’Alembert’s principle. Elected to the French Academy in 1754, and became its permanent secretary 18 years later. Had a continent-wide reputation and was invited by several heads of state to hold prestigious positions. Suffered ill health most of his life. Slight, with a small thin voice. Best remembered for his La Grande Encyclopedie, in which he wished to codify all the knowledge of the world. Contributed many articles to this ambitious work, which he collaborated on with Denis Diderot (H.G. Wells), who made him his co-editor. Divided knowledge into memory, reason and imagination, and wrote on literature, philosophy and science, but because of his unorthodox views, and the subsequent attacks on them, he eventually withdrew from the project, feeling himself worn down from it. Wrote on numerous subjects, incurring the wrath of the Church for his treatise against the suppression of the Jesuits. Co-habited with Julie de Lespinasse (Mary McCarthy) for 9 years until her death, and spent the latter part of his life living quietly in Paris, writing a his/story of the members of the French Academy. One of the principle figures of the French Enlightenment. Inner: Restless, irritable, impatient, but also friendly and generous, with an extreme independence of mind. Encyclopedic lifetime of pursuing the purity of knowledge from a strong genetic base, but humble upbringing, only to become embroiled in the inevitable emotional offshoots of subjective truths.


Storyline: The concupiscent critic gradually claims herself as a unique literary figure after both absorbing and doing battle with some of the eminent cultural lights of her times.

Mary McCarthy (Mary Theresa McCarthy) (1912-1989) - American writer, critic and activist. Outer: Father was a member of a prominent Roman Catholic family, mother was a lawyer’s daughter. Her sire was also an alcoholic wastrel, whom his daughter later romanticized. Oldest of 4, with 3 younger brothers, including actor Kevin McCarthy. Her parents died in the influenza epidemic of 1918 days apart from one another, when she was 6. Lived with her siblings under pinched and mean conditions with her insensitive paternal grandparents until the age of 11. Her uncle would beat her with a razor strop and seal her mouth with adhesive tape at night. Eventually lived with her maternal grandparents, who were austere but far more giving. Explored her sexuality early, ultimately chronicling her dark youth in Memories of a Catholic Girlhood. Educated at private schools and then Vassar. Extremely active, socially and politically, involved in many of the left-wing causes of her time, although always far more interested in literature than politics. Began her career as a critic for the New Republic and Nation, then, beginning in 1937, worked for the Partisan Review as a drama critic for 11 years, excoriating the critics of her time. In her early 20s, she married and divorced an actor, Harold Jonsrud. Had many affairs, was compulsively promiscuous, and lived with critic Philip Rahv. In her mid-20s, she married critic Edmund Wilson, although didn’t like him and found his physicality sexually uninspiring, divorced after 7 tumultuous years. The duo were intellectually stimulating but corporeally abusive with one another, one child from the union. In 1946, she married Bowden Broadwater, an eccentric prep school registrar 8 years her junior, divorced in 1961. Felt her last marriage, in her late 40s to James West, a foreign service officer, was the only time she had really been in love. Began writing short stories at the behest of Wilson, and proved extremely popular, cementing her public reputation with 6 novels, beginning with a satiric look at academia in The Groves of Academe. Her most popular work was The Group, a chronicle of Vassarites and their ultimate lives, although her critical essays were her true metier. Won numerous awards, and was named an officer in the French Order of Arts and Letters. Publicly accused playwright Lillian Hellman of dishonesty, who, in turn, sued her, but she died before case could come to court. Often used thinly veiled versions of her friends and lovers in her novels. Wrote a 2nd autobiography during her final illness, which was published posthumously, before dying of lung cancer. Inner: Attractive, assertive, angry, merciless and fascinated with her own power as a woman. Waged a lifelong war with the dull and the crass, although her usual stance was one of negating, rather than affirming anything, making her far more a creature of her time, than any kind of transcendental thinker. Obsessed with facts and the truth, although preferred self-fantasy to self-analysis. Observer/participant, with the idea of creating herself as a modern-day female intellectual and sexual saint. Room of her own lifetime of establishing herself as a literary figure in her own write, after getting out from under the heavy shadow of her longtime intellectual and intimate mate. Jane Welsh Carlyle (1801-1866) - English writer. Outer: Daughter of a well-to-do doctor, only child, sickly most of her life. Began writing verse in her teens. Although she wished to marry another, she wound up betrothed to Thomas Carlyle (Edmund Wilson) in her mid-20s, after first rejecting him. Though their personalities clashed, each had deep affection for the other, and she served him well as an editor and intellectual confidante. Her husband may have been impotent, and the union unconsummated, although the speculation is based on rumor, not fact. Struggled financially through the early years of their marriage. Formed a coterie of female friends, and did much to sabotage her marriage through jealousy. Placed her powers of exposition in her letters, which her husband edited after her death. Also encouraged other writers, using her critical facilities for the advantage of others rather than herself. Invalid the last 8 years of her life, and died suddenly from the shock of a minor accident. Inner: Temperamental, attractive, with a sharp verbal sense. Probably had her own growth as a writer stifled by her marriage. Support lifetime of doing battle with and adjusting to longtime mate in a dual union of temperaments and acute critical faculties. Julie de Lespinasse (1732-1776) - French salonist. Outer: One of 2 children born out of wedlock to a countess, and left penniless after her mother’s death. Raised as the daughter of a doctor and convent-educated, she then became governess to her legitimate half-sister, a marquise. Met salonist Marie du Duffand (Rebecca West), and became her companion and reader as the older woman was losing her sight. Over the next decade, she established herself as a warm intellect, and became an extremely popular figure in cultured circles. Dismissed out of jealousy, she set up her own salon in 1764, attracting many of her teacher/patron’s intellectual clientele, while creating a center for the writers of the French Encyclopedie. Lived with philosopher Jean d’Alembert, unmarried, for the last 11 years of her life, while also maintaining other intimate relationships, including a passionate connection with a flamboyant count, carried on largely through the mails. The two loves of her life both died, and she used opium sedatives to calm her nerves. Held a sense of romantic despair at the end of her life, which, coupled with her drug use, hastened her premature departure. Inner: Intelligent, warm and obsessive. Also reputed to hold conventional morality and a sense of shock about her own actions. French host lifetime of competing in the intellectual arenas of her time, only to suffer through her liaisons and relationships, in her ongoing inability to find people who truly reflect her complex interior, despite her repeat connection to the same stimulating, but exasperating soul.



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