Goodreads Blog

6 Fascinating Friendships Between Famous Authors

Posted by Hayley on May 11, 2015
May 11, 1926: Eighty-nine years ago today, J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis encountered each other at an Oxford English faculty meeting. It was not friendship at first sight. "No harm in him," Lewis wrote about his new acquaintance. "Only needs a smack or two."

Of course, it didn't take long for the two to become nearly inseparable. They critiqued each other's early drafts—for Tolkien, The Lord of the Rings, and for Lewis, Out of the Silent Planet—and formed their own literary discussion group, The Inklings.

In celebration of their bookish bond, we've taken a look at six other captivating author friendships.


How they met: While working as an editor at Random House, Morrison tried to convince Baldwin to sign a book deal. She failed, but the two became lifelong friends.

Inside their friendship: The two writers admitted the powerful influence the other had on their work, but Morrison put it the most touchingly in her eulogy for Baldwin: "You knew, didn't you? How I relied on your fierce courage to tame wildernesses for me? How strengthened I was by the certainty that came from knowing you would never hurt me? You knew, didn't you, how I loved your love? You knew."


How they met: As a child, Capote went to live with his cousins, who happened to be playmates with Lee. The families lived on the same street in the small town of Monroeville, Alabama.

Inside their friendship: For decades, the big rumor about their friendship was that Capote had either written or heavily edited Lee's To Kill a Mockingbird. Finally, a letter from Truman to his aunt, dated a year before the novel's publication, settled the matter. He wrote that he had read his friend's book, liked it very much, and thought she was quite talented.




How they met: A literary star after Jane Eyre's publication, Brontë found herself suddenly thrust into intellectual society. Established novelist Gaskell took the shy woman under her wing.

Inside their friendship: ...And then things got a little weird. Gaskell became obsessed with writing a biography of her friend, but Brontë chafed under the attention, complaining to her publisher: "[Gaskell] seems determined that I shall be a sort of invalid. Why may I not be well like other people?" Two years after Brontë's untimely death, Gaskell published The Life of Charlotte Bronte, a highly controversial take on the famous author.


How they met: Working as a journalist, Gaiman interviewed Pratchett in 1985. The two met at a Chinese restaurant.

Inside their friendship: After reading the first 5,000 words of a story Gaiman was calling William the Antichrist, Pratchett called him up to see if they should work on it together. They did, and the result was the hilarious masterpiece Good Omens. "We got on fine," Pratchett mused later. "Hard to say why, but at bottom was a shared delight and amazement at the sheer strangeness of the universe, in stories, in obscure details, in strange old books in unregarded bookshops." (You can read Gaiman's heartfelt tribute to the late writer here.)


How they met: Alcott had connections. Henry David Thoreau and Nathaniel Hawthorne were close with her family, and Emerson was a lifelong friend of her father's.

Inside their friendship: Emerson gave the young writer free rein in his library. She wrote years later, "His kind hand opened to me the riches of Shakespeare, Dante, Goethe and Carlyle, and I gratefully recall the sweet patience with which he led me round the book-lined room."




How they met: Byron and Shelley met through a mutual acquaintance of sorts, Claire Clairmont—Byron's former mistress and Shelley's stepsister. Claire convinced Shelley and her future husband Percy to travel to Switzerland to meet Byron, and the trio instantly connected.

Inside their friendship: What do literary-minded folk do on a stormy night in? They tell ghost stories, of course. On one such evening, Byron challenged Shelley and a group of friends to write their own ghostly tale. Not long after, Shelley woke from a dream/nightmare with the idea for her classic novel Frankenstein.


Who's your favorite writing duo? Tell us in the comments! And discover more books about writing and friendship on Listopia: Books About Writers and Best Friendship Books.

Comments (showing 1-50 of 115) (115 new)


message 1: by Maggie (new)

Maggie I'm a little surprised that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis didn't make it on this list.


message 2: by Melissa (new)

Melissa OMG!! This is officially one of, if not my favorite, Goodreads blog post to date! I'm literally tearing up. This is something special! Thank you SO much Goodreads for this and all your other blogs.

This one got me good. I Loved them all, but most definitely my faves are:

1. Charlotte Brontë and Elizabeth Gaskell

2. Toni Morrison and James Baldwin

3.Lord Byron Foundation for Balkan Studies (photo won't link) and Mary Shelley

And......

4. Louisa May Alcott and Ralph Waldo Emerson

Okay, so I couldn't choose just one, lol, but I adore this blog post. I wish I had ink in my printer so I could print it out! :)

~*Thank You, Goodreads*~ :) LOVE it! Perfect, Beautiful, Awesome, Fun Facts.......


message 3: by Melissa (last edited May 11, 2015 02:13PM) (new)

Melissa Melissa wrote: "OMG!! This is officially one of, if not my favorite, Goodreads blog post to date! I'm literally tearing up. This is something special! Thank you SO much Goodreads for this and all your other blogs...."

Replying to my own comment, lol.

P.S. I always say thank you to Goodreads for these awesome blog posts, but I should be Thanking both Goodreads and Hayley Igarashi who puts these togehter for us. Thank you, Hayley :')

I went to the first list and every time I shelve a book on a non-exclusive shelf it marks it as read. A glitch?


message 4: by Susan (new)

Susan Ray Maggie wrote: "I'm a little surprised that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis didn't make it on this list."

They were mentioned first, in the intro to this article.


message 5: by Virginia (new)

Virginia Maggie wrote: "I'm a little surprised that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis didn't make it on this list."

They are the FIRST ones on the list.


message 6: by Andrea (new)

Andrea Barol James Beard and Julia Child
Ernest Hemingway and Gertrude Stein


message 7: by Melissa (last edited May 11, 2015 03:12PM) (new)

Melissa Maggie wrote: "I'm a little surprised that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis didn't make it on this list."

Hi Maggie, They are part of the list, but I know I was so taken in by the pictures that it probably would have been easy for many to miss. Excitement of seeing the pictures and stories apart from the opening of the blog.


~*Happy Reading*~ :)


message 8: by Amber (new)

Amber Dickens and Andersen,too


message 9: by Philip (new)

Philip Dodd William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge, two poets who were friends, and published Lyrical Ballads together. Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth


message 10: by Kenan (new)

Kenan Curry Maggie wrote: "I'm a little surprised that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis didn't make it on this list."

*facepalm* Those were the people it started with! In the first paragraph it tells about them, and is saying, here are more.


message 11: by Kenan (new)

Kenan Curry I've heard of TWO of those authors: John Ronald Reuel Tolkien, and Clive Staples Lewis.


message 12: by Erin (new)

Erin I absolutely love this blog post. It is my favorite in the last few weeks.


message 13: by Matthew (new)

Matthew Maggie wrote: "I'm a little surprised that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis didn't make it on this list."
yeah, they're my two favorite authors


message 14: by Katheleen (new)

Katheleen Garay soto Maggie wrote: "I'm a little surprised that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis didn't make it on this list."
Actually, this list is in their honor. The very first paragraph says so.


message 15: by BookWitch_Namine (new)

BookWitch_Namine Excuse me? Read a majority of the comments before you comment because I think Maggie gets it now.


message 16: by BookWitch_Namine (new)

BookWitch_Namine "Alcott had connections."


Mac Dubista Keso The Bibliobibuli v(=∩_∩=) Maggie wrote: "I'm a little surprised that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis didn't make it on this list."

Precisely!
Why didn't include them?
urggg.


message 18: by Adriana (new)

Adriana Scarpin No Aldous Huxley and Christopher Isherwood?


message 19: by Alan (new)

Alan Well, place tells a lot: Emerson lived across the street from Alcott, and Thoreau stayed in Emerson's house (I think when RW and wife were away). Tolkien and Lewis drank at the narrow Oxford pub Bird and Baby (Eagle and Child).
Of course, 17C is rich in lit buddies: the Tribe of Ben (Jonson) at the cafe (a new word, & new drink), the Restoration dramatists (mostly imitators of Moliere) and their literary spectators like Dryden and Dennis, and next century, Americans like Franklin and (choose your pick from Boston or Philadelphia) or 19C, Dickinson and Higginson (or even Springfield's Dawes).


message 20: by Melissa (new)

Melissa BookWitch_Namine wrote: "Excuse me? Read a majority of the comments before you comment because I think Maggie gets it now."


Hi BookWitch, Ditto. I'm so glad you said something also. I wish I had had the guts like you to be as blunt, but I just tried to make sure she didn't feel as bad as the other comments are showing. Not to mention many comments are complaining of so and so not being there and if they read the end of the blog it specifically asks people to comment whom our "favorite duos" are.

Unnecessary and unkind comments. I usually stay as far away from that as I can, but when I see somebody being bludgeoned I can't sit by and not try to throw something kind in. Nobody should be made to feel bad 'ever'.

Happy Reading, BookWitch :)


message 21: by Melissa (new)

Melissa Alan wrote: "Well, place tells a lot: Emerson lived across the street from Alcott, and Thoreau stayed in Emerson's house (I think when RW and wife were away). Tolkien and Lewis drank at the narrow Oxford pub ..."

That's some great information, Alan! Thanks for sharing :)


message 22: by emma (new)

emma My favourite writing duos (which were not mentioned in this list) would definitely be

1) Herman Melville and Nathaniel Hawthorne
2) Christopher Isherwood and W. H. Auden
3) Mary Renault and Patrick O'Brian.

It's nice to find out how many writers are somehow connected to each other. For instance, Mary Renault attended Tolkien's lectures and tutorials in Oxford. :D


message 23: by Melissa (new)

Melissa So badly I wanted to come here with an Edgar Allan Poe duo, however I'm ashamed at myself to say that while he's an absolute favorite Author of mine, I'm finding just how little I really knew. Let my Poe research begin! That's going to be fun.

So far I've read conflicting stories. Some say he had at least one who started as enemy and some sites say zero friends. What a painful life he lived. So, while I dont have a duo of friendship to add, I did find this which is sad (the entire bio), but the ending just breaks my heart.

From
https://www.poemuseum.org/life.php

"Days after Poe’s death, his literary rival Rufus Griswold wrote a libelous obituary of the author in a misguided attempt at revenge for some of the offensive things Poe had said and written about him. Griswold followed the obituary with a memoir in which he portrayed Poe as a drunken, womanizing madman with no morals and no friends. Griswold’s attacks were meant to cause the public to dismiss Poe and his works, but the biography had exactly the opposite effect and instead drove the sales of Poe’s books higher than they had ever been during the author’s lifetime. Griswold’s distorted image of Poe created the Poe legend that lives to this day while Griswold is only remembered (if at all) as Poe’s first biographer."

As to any authenticity, there are many unanswered questions I'm going to be digging around for and as much as I wanted to share a duo with Poe.....I can only show enemies.

Love him -----> Edgar Allan Poe is alone in this post :(


message 24: by Steve (new)

Steve John Cowper Powys exchanged letters and formed friendships with many writers, including Henry Miller, Dorothy Richardson, Theodore Drieser and of course his two brothers Llewelyn Powys and T F Powys.


message 25: by Anne (new)

Anne Zandt Interesting list, but I'm afraid you also left out the German classics.
Amongst others did (Johann Wolfgang von) Goethe and (Friedrich) Schiller have a deep friendship that lasted until Schiller's death.
They knew of each others works long before they became friends, but later worked together on many different projects.


message 26: by Moloch (last edited May 12, 2015 02:21AM) (new)

Moloch Poisonpainter wrote: "Interesting list, but I'm afraid you also left out the German classics.
Amongst others did (Johann Wolfgang von) Goethe and (Friedrich) Schiller have a deep friendship that lasted until Schiller's ..."


Unfortunately these posts are often only about British or American books/authors. I am a bit disappointed that the outside world is rarely considered, although this is a US site so I understand why. Still, a little more effort would be appreciated.


message 27: by Richard (new)

Richard C.S, Lewis also had a very close friendship with fellow Inkling author, Charles Williams. The latter's novels deserve to be much better known than they are as they are certainly, at the very least, comparable to the work of Tolkien and Lewis.

The influence of Williams on Lewis actually disturbed Tolkien who stated that his friendship with Lewis had been interrupted by "the apparition" of Charles Williams.


message 28: by Anne (new)

Anne Zandt Moloch wrote: "Unfortunately these posts are often only about British or American books/authors. I am a bit disappointed that the outside world is rarely considered. ..."

Yeah, I know, but seeing that there is an ever growing amount of German/not English books and readers on this page, I at least wanted to name them.


message 29: by Anand (new)

Anand Ganapathy Charles Dickens and Wilkie Collins should have made it to this list


message 30: by KOMET (new)

KOMET Let's not leave out Gore Vidal and Italo Calvino. They were the best of friends. Vidal spoke very highly of Calvino's novels.

Gore Vidal

Italo Calvino


message 31: by Josée (new)

Josée Henry Miller and Anais Nin


message 32: by Alan (new)

Alan Melissa wrote: "So badly I wanted to come here with an Edgar Allan Poe duo, however I'm ashamed at myself to say that while he's an absolute favorite Author of mine, I'm finding just how little I really knew. Let ..."

Dickens too admired Poe, wrote one story in the Poe vein, pretty good, too. Forget the itle, but it may be collected with Dickens pieces including American Notes.


message 33: by Sean (new)

Sean Smart Maggie wrote: "I'm a little surprised that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis didn't make it on this list."

me too


message 34: by Josée (new)

Josée I guess they should have included pictures of Tolkien and Lewis since so many people didn't read the beginning and think they were missed. The only thing that was missed was their photos.


message 35: by Kent (new)

Kent Also Shelby Foote and Walker Percy. There's a great book containing their correspondence over several decades.


message 36: by Erma (new)

Erma Talamante Maggie wrote: "I'm a little surprised that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis didn't make it on this list."

They were at the top. Did you miss it? There was no photographs, but it was the lead-in of the whole article.


message 37: by Erma (new)

Erma Talamante BookWitch_Namine wrote: "Excuse me? Read a majority of the comments before you comment because I think Maggie gets it now."

I agree Maggie might, but reading down the comments, there appear to be others that don't, agreeing with her (original) comment.

I think everyone (including myself) is commenting on it since she has not deleted the comment, and it is the first in the comment list. A little bit obvious.

Thank you for pointing out that everyone needn't say the same thing, though. You do have a good point here, and one I'll keep in mind for the future!


message 38: by Erma (new)

Erma Talamante Poisonpainter wrote: "Yeah, I know, but seeing that there is an ever growing amount of German/not English books and readers on this page, I at least wanted to name them."

Glad to see more than the usual gang of writers. Some on this list was surprising, but many were favorites that I was already aware of. I like that you stepped outside the common for your pairs. Thanks!


message 39: by Tom (new)

Tom Baker Joseph Conrad and Ford Madox Ford


message 40: by Ana (last edited May 12, 2015 08:27AM) (new)

Ana Maggie wrote: "I'm a little surprised that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis didn't make it on this list."

Did you read the article from the beginning?


message 41: by Michael (new)

Michael Davis Carl Jung and Herman Hesse had an interesting friendship and correspondence. I also like the idea of all the writers and other artists who hung out together in Vienna's coffee houses and salons in the 20's and 30's, influencing each other both consciously and un-.


message 42: by Mary (last edited May 12, 2015 09:04AM) (new)

Mary Catherine Maggie wrote: "I'm a little surprised that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis didn't make it on this list."

They begin with them! Read much? "Good reads Maggie".


message 43: by Mary (new)

Mary Catherine Be2be wrote: "Henry Miller and Anais Nin"

"What about Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre?! Or Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman. She writes!


message 44: by Mary (new)

Mary Catherine What about Simone de Beauvoir and Jean Paul Sartre?! Or Amanda Palmer and Neil Gaiman. She writes!


message 45: by Marietta (new)

Marietta What about Fitzgerald and Hemingway?


message 46: by Elizabeth (last edited May 12, 2015 09:53AM) (new)

Elizabeth  Crown Maggie wrote: "I'm a little surprised that J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis didn't make it on this list."

Read the beginning blurb.


message 47: by Newly (new)

Newly Wardell Be2be wrote: "Henry Miller and Anais Nin"
Really is this true? I really want this to be true.


message 48: by Newly (new)

Newly Wardell My favorite writing friends are Carl Reiner and Mel Brooks. I know neither is a literary giant (unless you count the forever hilarious 2000 year old man) but the quality of the words don't stop at a specific medium. I truly respect and cherish these men and a friendship that has lasted more than 50 years.


message 49: by Maritza (new)

Maritza Buendia Jorge Luis Borges and Alfredo Bioy Casares!


message 50: by MJ (new)

MJ Langston Hughes and Zora Neale Hurston would be my favorite pair that didn't make the list

Langston Hughes & Zora Neale Hurston


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