As we’re now midway through No-Shave-November, and more people around the world are probably taking advantage of this momentous month than usual due to worldwide work-from-home circumstances, I’m sure you’re itching to see some authors with the most legendary facial hair. I know what you’re wondering…. Does a correlation exist between beard length and literary strength? Is a connection to be found between the most memorable manuscripts and the mustachioed men who penned them? This list says it all:
1. George R. R. Martin
Let’s begin current, shall we? George R. R. Martin, king of the epic fantasy, as proven through his unmatchable A Game of Thrones series, has quite the royal beard ruminating. And not only is he a genius on the page, but he’s a living throw-back to literary minds of old who sported such weighty beards as well. I searched the web far and wide, and he was one of the only modern authors that I could find with a beard of notable vivacity. Long live the beard, George R. R. Martin!
2. Patrick Rothfuss
And for the next magnificently modern beard on our list, we have Patrick Rothfuss. As yet another author of epic fantasy, with his popular The King Killer Chronicles, Rothfuss is making a statement with the steady growth of his very own Gandalf beard. Maybe fantastic facial growth is a staple for fantastical fiction? It does appear so, and as we continue down our list of literary greats and their gargantuan face gardens, we’ll continue to see this marriage between impressive writings and interesting groomings.
3. Walt Whitman
Author of the famous verse collection, Leaves of Grass, Walt Whitman was also known for the manly and un-manicured lawn on his face. Known as the Father of Free Verse, and the first Democrat American poet, Whitman’s beard lives on in verse as well:
Frederico Garcia Lorca’s “Ode to Walt Whitman” reads:
Not for a moment, Walt Whitman, lovely old man,
have I failed to see your beard full of butterflies.
And Allen Ginsberg viewed Whitman’s beard as a compass in “A Supermarket in California”:
Where are we going, Walt Whitman?
The doors close in an hour.
Which way does your beard point tonight?
4. Herman Melville
Herman Melville, an American novelist of New York City in the nineteenth century, is most notably the author of Moby Dick. But during his life, however, he was well known for his original square-cut beard. He also fondly featured facial hair in his works. In his 1850 novel, White Jacket, he writes about “suburbs of the chin,” “whiskerandoes,” and “muzzle lashings.” He then goes on to list twenty-five references of “plantations of hair.” What can we say; the man loved hair!
5. Henry David Thoreau
The neckbeard was the mullet of its day, in that it made the wearer ready for different – even contradictory – social occasions with one simple style. The hairstyle conveys both a fresh-faced business mien and the rugged manliness of a north-woodsman. For Throeau, who walked the line between polite society and an outdoor lifestyle, it was the perfect combination. It also kept chill New England gusts from entering the wearer’s collar.
6. Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway–American journalist, novelist and short-story writer–introduced the hipster beard to the world before the world was ready. He even nailed the hand-raised-to-the-face-while-looking-elsewhere pose; a common look on Instagram today. With a beard ahead of his time, Hemingway is the most well-groomed man on this list, and has won Bookstr’s Silver Fox Award (I made that up for this article, but it’s still impressive). Apart from his looks, Hemingway also achieved acclaim for his novels The Sun Also Rises, A Farewell to Arms and The Old Man and the Sea, as well as his short-story Hills Like White Elephants.
7. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has gone down in history as the creator of the Sherlock Holmes character, as well as the Sherlock Holmes mysteries. With a mind of great intellect, cunning and creativity, he had a mustache to match the magnanimity of his prose. The handlebar mustache is still a favorite ‘stache amongst the society of scholars and craft beer lovers, and it’s silhouette can, today, be found adorning cell-phone cases and tote bags galore. However, it take a real man to pull one off, and Conan Doyle does it well!
8. LeO Tolstoy
The Russian author, and “one of the greatest writers of all time,” Leo Tolstoy, has written acclaimed classics such as War and Peace and Anna Karenina, but he also boasts the beard to beat in the literary circle. Although he has a rocky start (according to beardoholic.com, “In his early days, Tolstoy discovered that he was a pretty lousy student and started drinking, gambling and whoring (he described this as “rioting with loose women”), he decided to be a writer when he turned in a different direction and joined the army. While serving as a soldier for the Russian empire, he was clean-shaven, but as soon as he departed the military he invested his time in growing in the craft of writing and growing the beard he’s now distinguished for.
9. Frederick Douglass
Frederick Douglass, the abolitionist leader and author of Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, An American Slave, was born into slavery in Maryland of 1818. According to biography.com, “He became one of the most famous intellectuals of his time, advising presidents and lecturing to thousands on a range of causes, including women’s rights and Irish home rule.” And while Douglass was an innovative thinker, prolific writer, anti-slavery lecturer, and force to be reckoned with, he also showed he meant business with his strikingly full beard.
10. Charles Dickens
Finally, we have come to the most enthusiastic facial hair admirer on the list: Charles Dickens. This author of legendary classics, such as A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, and Great Expectations, had quite the affinity for hair. A fervor rivaling even that of Herman Melvilles twenty-five not so subtle hints toward plantations of hair, and with a chin garden just as exited. Look at those curly cues jutting every which way, as if dancing their way off his face in all directions. Dickens was clearly a lover of the all-natural look, yet he also experimented with styles, as seen in his exclamation to Daniel Maclise below:
The moustaches are glorious, glorious. I have cut them shorter and trimmed them a little at the ends to improve their shape. They are charming, charming. Without them, life would be a blank.
Wouldn’t life be a blank without facial hair, and without this glorious, glorious list of literary geniuses and their legendary beards and mustaches? Enjoy the rest of the month and No-Shave-November!
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