It’s no secret that the literary world is full of competition. To be a great writer, you have to want to get to the top. It’s hard to imagine someone in this industry spending their time with a direct rival, but the further we look into the matter, the more we learn that there have been many strong friendships between great writers. Some of them seem surprising, others make perfect sense.
J.R.R Tolkien and C.S. Lewis
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When we think of classic fantasy literature, the two series that come to mind for most people are The Lord of the Rings and The Chronicles of Narnia. Given that, it seems quite fitting that authors J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis would have been friends in real life. The two first met while teaching at Oxford University and connected over shared interests in religion and mythology. Both writers achieved great fame and success through publications dealing with both such areas, so it is quite likely that their friendship helped inspire both authors in their work.
Truman Capote and Harper Lee
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Lewis and Tolkien met as adults, but some author friends met as children. Such was the case for Truman Capote and Harper Lee. The pair first became friends while growing up in Monroeville, Alabama. When Capote traveled to Kansas to investigate the puzzling murder of a family there, Lee went with him. This investigation would eventually inspire Capote’s masterpiece In Cold Blood, which he partially dedicated to his childhood friend. Had these two met as adults, however, they likely would not have been friends, as their personalities were different. The reclusive Lee refused to give interviews for many years after her own masterpiece, To Kill a Mockingbird, was published, while the someone flamboyant Capote lived a vibrant lifestyle, occasionally sparking feuds with other public figures.
Louisa May Alcott and Ralph Waldo Emerson
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We all know Louisa May Alcott as the author of the classic Little Women. What some of don’t know is that despite discussing traditional and moralistic values for young women in her writing, Alcott grew up in a leftist family who believed strongly in the teachings of transcendentalism. Her parents’ friends included legendary figures of the movement such as Henry David Thoreau and Nathaniel Hawthorne. One of her father’s closest friends, though, was Ralph Waldo Emerson, who became Alcott’s friend. His influence on her writing was great. When she was a teenager, he granted her access to his vast personal library, which first sparked her desire to write.
Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald
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Perhaps the two most noteworthy figures of the lost generation, F. Scott Fitzgerald and Ernest Hemingway also shared a well-known friendship as well as rivalry. Like Lee and Capote, these two lived very different lifestyles, as was displayed through their writing. Hemingway’s stories helped cultivate his image as a masculine adventurer while Fitzgerald’s tales of high society drama shaped his own as a Jazz age playboy, only concerned with womanizing and destructive self-indulgence. The film Midnight in Paris discussed the friendship, but is also hit on it’s points of tension, such as the fact that Hemmingway disapproved of Zelda Fitzgerald, Scott’s wife who served as a muse for much of his writing.
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