Harper Lee, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway …
These iconic names are among the luminaries hailing from the United States. However, more locally, each state has produced their own homegrown authors who have left an indelible mark on literature with their diverse and significant contributions. A survey* of 3,000 respondents by StoicQuotes.com shed light on each state’s most cherished authors, revealing some intriguing outcomes.
John Steinbeck emerged as California’s favorite author. John Steinbeck’s association with the state of California is profound and enduring. A native Californian, Steinbeck drew deep inspiration from the landscapes, people, and social dynamics of the region.
His literary works often feature the iconic settings of California, from the fertile valleys of the Salinas in “East of Eden” to the arduous journey along Highway 66 in “The Grapes of Wrath.” Through his writing, Steinbeck captured the essence of California’s diverse communities and its complex socio-economic fabric.
His portrayal of the state’s struggles during the Great Depression and its impact on the lives of ordinary people left an indelible mark on both literature and the collective understanding of California’s history. In many ways, Steinbeck’s connection to California is inseparable from his literary legacy, as his evocative narratives continue to offer insights into the state’s past and present.
Californians’ second choice was Raymond Chandler, followed by Philip K. Dick, third.
And consider Alabama. While many might presume Harper Lee, famed for “To Kill a Mockingbird,” to be the state’s favored author, it was Helen Keller who garnered the majority of votes. Born in Tuscumbia in 1880, Keller’s youth was overshadowed by an illness rendering her blind and deaf. Yet, under Anne Sullivan’s unwavering mentorship, Keller transcended her adversities, evolving into a revered author and speaker. Throughout her journey, Keller held a profound affection for Alabama, often alluding to it as her treasured homeland.
In a similar vein, despite F. Scott Fitzgerald penning “The Great Gatsby,” wasn’t New Yorkers’ top literary pick. That honor belonged to James Baldwin, renowned for “Go Tell It on the Mountain.” This 1953 semi-autobiographical novel delves into intricate subjects like religion, race, and family dynamics, portraying the life of John Grimes, a young African American boy navigating his identity amidst a religious upbringing in Harlem.
New Hampshire’s choice too was unexpected. J.D. Salinger, celebrated for ‘The Catcher in the Rye’, was surpassed by Grace Metalious. Born in 1924, Metalious gained acclaim for “Peyton Place,” a 1956 novel that boldly tackled taboo topics, juxtaposing them against the backdrop of a seemingly quaint New Hampshire town.
However, some states made more predictable choices. Nutmeggers, for example, championed Mark Twain and his “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.” Mississippi residents honored Tennessee Williams, the eminent playwright best known for “A Streetcar Named Desire.” And Ernest Hemingway, whose “The Old Man and the Sea” clinched the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1953 and paved the way for his Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954, was the unanimous choice for both Idaho and Florida.
“It’s fascinating to see the varied preferences across states, reflecting the rich tapestry of our nation’s cultural and historical narrative. This survey not only highlights the iconic authors we all know and love but also brings attention to the often unsung heroes of literature who’ve left an indelible mark on their home states,” said Shaun Connell from StoicQuotes.com.