In Memoriam 2022: Honoring the Creative Spirit

Before 2022 comes to a close, let’s take a moment to celebrate the life and work of authors who passed away this year by memorializing their creative spirit.

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Before we bid adieu to 2022, it’s a worthy endeavor to memorialize the authors who passed away this year. Sadly, we lost many brilliant minds, including many devastating celebrity deaths. Whereas coverage of celebrity deaths is generally extensive in the news cycle, tributes to authors and illustrators that have passed are rather limited.

Therefore, here at Bookstr, we seek to shine more awareness in the literary world by honoring the creative spirit of writers and artists both before and after death. As all of us readers know, books are truly magical in that they allow an author to live forever through a powerful, creative extension of themselves. In recognition of that power, here are some incredible and insightful voices that will continue to live on in 2023 and beyond.

Hilary Mantel

Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall, passed in September 2022
Image via Els Zweerink / Macmillan Publishers

Hilary Mantel, a two-time winner of the Booker Prize, lives on in her 17 remarkable books, including the beloved Wolf Hall trilogy. She battled through living with a chronic illness for most of her life, including a severe case of endometriosis, but never let her pain hinder her from soaring to great literary heights. In the words of her longtime editor Nicholas Pearson, Mantel’s creative spirit will endure in “a body of work that will be read for generations”

Patricia MacLachlan

Patricia MacLachlan
Image via John MacLachlan

Renowned children’s author and lifelong educator, Patricia MacLachlan, brought forth inspiring, realistic stories about everyday family life for young readers. Her most famous work, Sarah, Plain and Tall, earned her the 1986 Newbery Medal and the Scott O’Dell Award for historical fiction. Author and longtime friend Jane Yolen comments: “I know no one else like her—soft and sharp, witty and snarky, and the most loving mom and grandmother in the world. In fact, the world has been mothered by her. Just read her books, and you will know what I mean.”

Peter Straub

Peter Straub
Image via Huffington Post

American novelist Peter Straub’s career was defined by his raw talent for crafting spooky stories and supernatural fiction. A frequent collaborator with Stephen King, Straub put out a string of bestselling page-turners over the decades. His wry humor and expansive imagination cement him as one of the greatest horror writers of our time. Following in his footsteps, his daughter, Emma, is a successful novelist, paying homage to her dad in her new release, This Time Tomorrow.

Julie Powell

Julie Powell
Image via Bon Appetit Magazine

Julie Powell, a revolutionary food blogger, and memoirist was the mind behind the instant classic turned feature film, Julie & Julia (starring Amy Adams and Meryl Streep). Moving deftly between the literary and culinary world, Powell was a uniquely powerful voice and a passionate spirit. Editor Judy Clain, notes: “She was a brilliant writer and a daring, original person, and she will not be forgotten.”

David McKee

David McKee
Image via Wikimedia Commons

Beloved British writer and illustrator, David McKee, published countless bestselling children’s books starting in 1964. Most recognizably, his much-admired release, Elmer, and its many sequels have captivated young minds for decades. His work was heartfelt and filled with joy, creating stories that prioritized diversity and inclusion. Fellow author James Mayhew calls McKee a “gentle, modest, generous man, who leaves an astonishing legacy, covering themes of acceptance & pacifism, as relevant today as ever.”

Susan Nussbaum

Susan Nussbaum
Image via DisArt

Susan Nussbaum was an esteemed playwright, novelist, and disability rights activist. A hero and role model to many creatives, Nussbaum’s fierce fiction, and beautiful spirit empowered disabled writers and artists all over the nation. One of her most famous works, Good Kings Bad Kings, is a masterclass in writing jump-off-the-page characters. Her lifelong dedication to creating a more comprehensive and honest representation of the disability experience cements her as an author for the ages.

Shirley Hughes

Shirley Hughes
Image via Legacy.com

British author and illustrator Shirley Hughes wrote over 50 books and illustrated over 200 during her long and fruitful career. Among her many accolades, she received the inaugural BookTrust lifetime achievement award in 2015. One of her most renowned releases in England and abroad is Dogger, published in 1977. A staple voice in the world of children’s literature, Shirley Hughes is a storytelling giant who was profoundly dedicated to creative work for 94 incredible years.

Iraj Pezeshkzad

Iraj Pezeshkzad
Image via Goodreads

Iranian author Iraj Pezeshkzad began his writing journey in the 50s, translating French literature into Persian and writing short works for publication in magazines. However, his literary talent reached the level of a cultural phenomenon with his 1973 release, My Uncle Napoleon, which was soon made into a successful TV series. Long lauded as a dazzling satirist, Pezeshkzad’s work and poignant social commentary will live on.

Robert Goolrick

Robert Goolrick
Image via Wikimedia Commons

Robert Goolrick changed his career path at 53, writing a slew of novels that would bring him much literary acclaim. The foremost of which include A Reliable Wife and The Dying of the Light. As a writer, Goolrick knew the tremendous power of channeling one’s pain into prose. In a 2012 interview, Goolrick recounts his writing journey over the decades: “The journals of my youth were early attempts to find a voice with which to describe the pain. Now I use my writing to elucidate and, I hope, to move beyond that pain.”

Patricia A. McKillip

Patricia A. McKillip
Image via Terri Windling

World Fantasy Award winner Patricia A. McKillip began her writing career in the children’s and YA genre, publishing immensely popular and magical stories like The House on Parchment Street and The Forgotten Beasts of Eld. After which, she would pen a staggering 38 works. A powerhouse of the sci-fi and fantasy world, McKillip holds the record for the most Mythopoeic Fantasy awards and nominations. Her sprawling body of work will long continue to capture our wonder and imagination.

Marcus Sedgwick

Marcus Sedgwick
Image via The Bookseller

Marcus’s literary talent encompassed many different arenas – from adult and YA fiction to non-fiction and academic essays. He published over 40 books in his life, which garnered various accolades, including the Bransford-Boase Award for his first novel Floodland. Other esteemed stories of his include Midwinterblood, The Ghosts of Heaven, and Revolver. His undisputed love for storytelling for all ages lives on in his immense creative body of work.

Raymond Briggs

Raymond Briggs
Image via Wikimedia Commons

Raymond Briggs, an inductee into the British Comic Awards Hall of Fame, illustrated and wrote heartwarming stories for decades. Particularly, his most well-known read is The Snowman, which was turned into a long-running animated short nominated for an Academy Award. Other charming works of his to check out include The Bear, Father Christmas, and When the Wind Blows. The Briggs family is absolutely right in that his books “touched millions of people around the world” and will continue to do so.

Read about more featured authors here.

FEATURED IMAGE VIA ERIN SHEA ON CANVA