Helen DeWitt

in Takoma Park, The United States
January 01, 1957



Helen DeWitt (born 1957 in Takoma Park, Maryland, a suburb of Washington, D.C.) is a novelist.

DeWitt grew up primarily in South America (Mexico, Brazil, Colombia and Ecuador), as her parents worked in the United States diplomatic service. After a year at Northfield Mount Hermon School and two short periods at Smith College, DeWitt studied classics at the University of Oxford, first at Lady Margaret Hall, and then at Brasenose College for her D.Phil.

DeWitt is best known for her acclaimed debut novel, The Last Samurai. She held a variety of jobs while struggling to finish a book, including a dictionary text tagger, a copytaker, and Dunkin' Donuts employee, she also worked in a laundry service. During this time she reportedly attempted to fini

Helen DeWitt isn't a Goodreads Author (yet), but she does have a blog, so here are some recent posts imported from her feed.

Lives of Astronomers

In summer 1997 I went to Oxford to do research on a character I thought should be an astronomer.  I went to the Radcliffe Science Library and began reading journals, increasingly aware of how ill-equipped I was to create a fictional astronomer: I should probably spend several months getting a better understanding of the kind of research he might do.

My agent, Stephanie Cabot, had said in June 1996 Read more of this blog post »
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Published on April 09, 2020 09:48
Average rating: 3.93 · 8,461 ratings · 1,286 reviews · 7 distinct worksSimilar authors
The Last Samurai

4.17 avg rating — 5,897 ratings — published 2000 — 41 editions
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Lightning Rods

3.39 avg rating — 1,802 ratings — published 2011 — 15 editions
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Some Trick: Thirteen Stories

3.33 avg rating — 691 ratings — published 2018 — 7 editions
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Your Name Here

3.77 avg rating — 26 ratings — published 2008
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3.87 avg rating — 15 ratings — published 2012
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n+1 Issue 12: Conversion Ex...

4.07 avg rating — 28 ratings — published 2011 — 2 editions
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N+1 Issue 6: Mainstream

4.43 avg rating — 21 ratings — published 2008 — 3 editions
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More books by Helen DeWitt…

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“There is a strange taboo in our society against ending something merely because it is not pleasant-- life, love, a conversation, you name it, the etiquette is that you must begin in ignorance & persevere in the face of knowledge, & though I naturally believe that this is profoundly wrong it's not nice to go around constantly offending people.”
Helen DeWitt, The Last Samurai

“There are people who think contraception is immoral because the object of copulation is procreation. In a similar way there are people who think the only reason to read a book is to write a book; people should call up books from the dust and the dark and write thousands of words to be sent down to the dust and the dark which can be called up so that other people can send further thousands of words to join them in the dust and the dark. Sometimes a book can be called from the dust and the dark to produce a book which can be bought in shops, and perhaps it is interesting, but the people who buy it and read it because it is interesting are not serious people, if they were serious they would not care about the interest they would be writing thousands of words to consign to the dust and the dark. There are people who think death a fate worse than boredom.”
Helen DeWitt, The Last Samurai

“The master swordsman isn't interested in killing people. He only wants to perfect his art.”
Helen DeWitt, The Last Samurai


What will be our July 2018 Open Pick?

Remember, if you vote for a book and it wins, you are implicitly promising to read the book and participate in the discussion (the penalty for not following through is yet to be agreed but is sure to be unspeakable).

The poll will be open through May 30th. (Note: Check for availability before voting. You can change your vote at any time prior to the closing of the poll.) Discussion will begin on July 1st.

  8 votes, 33.3%

  7 votes, 29.2%

  6 votes, 25.0%

  2 votes, 8.3%

  1 vote, 4.2%


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