Exquisite Commencement Speeches by Famous Authors


A lot of the literary geniuses who penned the eNotes top one hundred literary works are dead—but a surprising number of them aren’t, and have thankfully stuck around long enough to see the invention of YouTube.

Check out the funny, profound, tragic, and sometimes surprising revelations offered by the authors you think you know in their commencement addresses. Continue Reading ›

A Writer’s Haven: 5 Authors’ Writing Spaces Reimagined

As bibliophiles can attest, we are all intrigued by the private lives of our favorite authors, often wondering about the ways that they worked creatively, and especially where they chose to write. For many, the choice was obvious, their office or bedroom – a personal space for reflection and inspiration.

At eNotes, we are really interested in embracing creativity and developing tips for success in school and work spaces. Time and time again we encounter articles noting the importance of having an organized, inspiring space to get to work. As we meditate on how to improve our own spaces, we’ve found ourselves wondering how our favorite authors might decorate their offices today. With this in mind, we created today’s blog post: A Writer’s Haven.

We’ve gone through and selected five famous authors from various time periods and have translated their individual preferences into modern takes on their offices. We had a lot of fun putting these together, and we hope you enjoy checking them out and finding inspiration for your own space. Check ’em out below!

Jane Austen:


For Jane’s office we imagined a light and airy space with lots of natural light and creature comforts. We acknowledged her English roots and incorporate a tea pot, because we think that if any of our favorite authors would have had a tea pot in their office, it would have been her. We like to imagine that if Jane were here today, she would be a bit of an introvert, anxious to re-read the great number of books in her built-in bookcase.

Want to learn more about Jane Austen and her writing? Check out this link: http://www.enotes.com/topics/jane-austen

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Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez Dead at 87

Celebrated Colombian author Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez died today at the age of 87 after a recent hospitalization for multiple infections. His death comes two years after it was reported he was suffering from dementia.


“It is not true that people stop pursuing dreams because they grow old, they grow old because they stop pursuing dreams.”

― Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez

In his extroadinary lifetime Márquez received widespread acclaim for his novels and short stories, including One Hundred Years of SolitudeLove in the Time of Cholera and Chronicle of a Death ForetoldOne Hundred Years in particular became incredibly popular, selling more than 50 million copies worldwide in over 25 languages. With his works Márquez stood as an ambassador for Latin American literature, and the father of magical realism.

When he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1982, he dedicated his lecture to the spirit of Latin America, and revealed to the world its inextricable ties to his particular writing style:

We have had to ask but little of imagination, for our crucial problem has been a lack of conventional means to render our lives believable.

Márquez is survived by his wife Mercedes and his two sons. He died at home in Mexico City. His memoirs remain unfinished.

Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez Biography at eNotestumblr_lvccd2mtNf1qa2sen
Works of Gabriel Garcí­a Márquez:

Love in the Time of Cholera

One Hundred Years of Solitude

The Autumn of the Patriarch

“A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings”

The General in His Labyrinth

and more found here.


How to Write Like Jane Austen

Here’s a tip: keep some sheep leather and blue gauls handy…


Yesterday we brought you the recipes to two authors’ favorite meals, so today I give you the recipe to one authoress’ writing success: a good leather bound book and a batch of homemade ink. For those Austen enthusiasts feeling particularly crafty, here is the exact recipe for the ink Jane Austen used, provided by her sister-in-law:

Take 4 ozs of blue gauls [gallic acid, made from oak apples], 2 ozs of green copperas [iron sulphate], 1 1/2 ozs of gum arabic. Break the gauls. The gum and copperas must be beaten in a mortar and put into a pint of strong stale beer; with a pint of small beer. Put in a little refin’d sugar. It must stand in the chimney corner fourteen days and be shaken two or three times a day.

This iron gall ink would then be applied to the page with an old-fashioned quill. But on the quality of the pages themselves, Austen was quite particular. One of her favorites was “a quarto stationer’s notebook… bound with quarter tanned sheep over boards sided with marbled paper. The edges of the leaves [were] plain cut and sprinkled red.” 

Better find yourself some quarter tanned sheep. No self-respecting Austenite would be caught dead without a sheep leather notebook!

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Salinger to Be Published Posthumously

The Catcher in the Rye author, who died in 2010, left instructions to publish his unseen works, including new stories featuring his most famous character Holden Caulfield.


J. D. Salinger was always a guarded artist. He kept a very small inner circle of only “seven or eight people,” says his son Matthew, outside of which nobody could have known that the author continued to write through the years, let alone that he planned to release any more of his works.

But a new documentary and accompanying book, both simply titled “Salinger,” are said to reveal both Salinger’s instructions to publish a  handful of never before seen stories and details of the elusive writer’s private life. Of the latter, the documentary’s director Shane Salerno says he and writer David Shields have uncovered new details about Salinger’s mysterious first wife–Sylvia Welter, a suspected Gestapo informant–as well as the young Jean Miller (only fourteen when they met) with whom he shared a long correspondence followed by a brief relationship.

For me, those sordid details Salerno and Shields boast of leave a bad taste in my mouth. The delivery, against the wishes of Salinger’s family and close friends, gives them all the credibility and dignity of a TMZ scoop. However, the duo insist that their sources regarding the author’s plans to publish are reliable, being “independent and separate” of one another.

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Eek, it’s Frankensteinbeck! And Other Literary Puns

I came across this fantastic gallery in the Rumpus today and had to share. The artist Timothy Lee Taranto illustrates literature’s most serious authors in a less than serious light. Check out our favorite, the “Vonnugget,” below, and many more. Happy Friday!

Top Ten Self-Deprecating Quotes from Authors

The literary world is a pretentious place, right? You wouldn’t think so judging by these ten quotes from authors playfully poking fun at their success. Who knew the Paris Review was such a popular venue in which to be self-deprecating?

Know of any others? Tell us in a comment below.

1. Vladimir Nabokov

Lolita is famous, not I. I am an obscure, doubly obscure, novelist with an unpronounceable name.” — in The Paris Review, 1967

2. Mark Twain

“I must have a prodigious quantity of mind; it takes me as much as a week sometimes to make it up.” – The Innocents Abroad

3. Ray Bradbury

“A conglomerate heap of trash, that’s what I am. But it burns with a high flame.” — in The Paris Review, 2010

4. Kurt Vonnegut

Slapstick may be a very bad book. I am perfectly willing to believe that. Everybody else writes lousy books, so why shouldn’t I? What was unusual about the reviews was that they wanted people to admit now that I had never been any good. The reviewer for the Sunday Times actually asked critics who had praised me in the past to now admit in public how wrong they’d been. My publisher, Sam Lawrence, tried to comfort me by saying that authors were invariably attacked when they became fabulously well-to-do… I had suffered, all right — but as a badly educated person in vulgar company and in a vulgar trade. It was dishonorable enough that I perverted art for money. I then topped that felony by becoming, as I say, fabulously well-to-do. Well, that’s just too damn bad for me and for everybody. I’m completely in print, so we’re all stuck with me and stuck with my books.” — in The Paris Review, 1977

5. Stephen King

“I am the literary equivalent of a Big Mac and Fries.”

6. David Sedaris

“At the end of a miserable day, instead of grieving my virtual nothing, I can always look at my loaded wastepaper basket and tell myself that if I failed, at least I took a few trees down with me.” — Me Talk Pretty One Day

7. Jonathan Lethem

“Listen, you can’t imagine what a freak I was. I worked in used bookstores as a teenager. I grew up with hippie parents. I lived in a ten-year cultural lag. At all times. I had not the faintest idea what was contemporary. When I got to Bennington, and I found that Richard Brautigan and Thomas Berger and Kurt Vonnegut and Donald Barthelme were not ‘the contemporary,’ but were in fact awkward and embarrassing and had been overthrown by something else, I was as disconcerted as a time traveler. The world I’d dwelled in was now apocryphal. No one read Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell, the Beats were regarded with embarrassment. When all that was swept away, I stopped knowing what contemporary literature was. I didn’t replace it; I just stopped knowing.” — in The Paris Review, 2003

8. John Grisham

“I can’t change overnight into a serious literary author. You can’t compare apples to oranges. William Faulkner was a great literary genius. I am not.”

9. Dorothy Parker

“I fell into writing, I suppose, being one of those awful children who wrote verses. I went to a convent in New York—the Blessed Sacrament… I was fired from there, finally, for a lot of things, among them my insistence that the Immaculate Conception was spontaneous combustion.” — in The Paris Review, 1956

10. And the self-deprecating author who took it to the highest extreme? That’d have to be Gary Shteyngart, who created a five minute parody of himself to promote his book Super Sad True Love Story:

“He really wants to cash in on this whole Hollywood vampire thing, but with werewolves… But they’re not wolves, they’re bears. Werebears.”

Images and quotes courtesy of Flavorwire.