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A look at prominent Arkansas authors

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Many prominent, successful and award-winning authors were born and raised in Arkansas. The writers who hail from the natural state are a diverse group: from phenomenally popular suspense author John Grisham, to avant-garde poet and author Maya Angelou, to groundbreaking Sex and the Single Girl author Helen Gurley Brown.

Some of Arkansas’ authors have embraced their heritage to the extent that they have incorporated their roots into books or poetry. John Grisham wrote an autobiographical book about his childhood in rural Arkansas titled A Painted House, which went on to be adapted for the small screen as a TV movie. The critically acclaimed Donald Harington is best remembered for writing fiction set in the Ozark Mountains. where he spent his childhood summers. The career of Mary Myrtle Medearis was largely based on her experience growing up in North Little Rock, most notably with the publication of the autobiographical Big Doc’s Girl.

John Grisham
John Grisham Neilson Barnard/Getty Images

John Grisham

Author and lawyer John Grisham, born in Jonesboro and is best known for his wildly popular legal thrillers, such as his first bestselling novel The Firm. Many of his books have been adapted to the big screen. Although he is most closely associated with thrillers, Grisham has also been known to dabble in other genres such as the humorous holiday read Christmas with the Kranks.

Hellen Gurley Brown
Hellen Gurley Brown Paul Hawthorne/Getty Images

Hellen Gurley Brown

Helen Gurley Brown, born in Green Forest and brought up in Little Rock, is remembered first and foremost as the editor in chief of Cosmopolitan magazine. However, Brown initially gained fame with her revolutionary 1962 book Sex and the Single Girl.

Maya Angelou
Maya Angelou Kris Connor/Getty Images

Maya Angelou

Maya Angelou, who was raised partly in Stamps, has excelled in many fields: writing, acting and singing. Her poetry has garnered much praise however, one of her most famous books is the autobiographical I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings, published in 1970.

Donald Harington
Donald Harington Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Donald Harington

Donald Harington, born in Little Rock, was the author of fifteen novels including the Ozark inspired Stay More series. Critics praised the originality of his work. After living in different parts of the country Harington eventually returned to Arkansas where he taught at U of A in Fayetteville.

Mary Myrtle Medearis
Mary Myrtle Medearis Andrew Redington/Getty Images

Mary Myrtle Medearis

Mary Myrtle Medearis, born in North Little Rock, was primarily known for her novel Big Doc’s Girl which was both a critical and commercial success. She was later inspired by historic Washington, Arkansas to write the book Washington, Arkansas: History of the Southwest Trail.    


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