Category: Famous Writers


Avi: award winning author of more than 70 books for children and young adults.

Born:  December 23, 1937

Avi is best known for his numerous awards in Children’s Literature.  Two of his most famous works, True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle and Nothing But the Truth won both the Newberry Award and the Boston Globe Horn Book Award and are read by thousands of school children each year.  These two books, along with five others by Avi, are currently on the American Library Association’s Notable Books List.

Born into a family of authors, Avi struggled in school during most of his childhood.  He remembers,

Since writing was important to my family, friends, and school, it was important to me. I wanted to prove that I could write. But it took years before I had a book published.

After he failed every class in high school, his parents placed him in a small private school where he could receive special tutoring in reading and writing.  It was his tutor, Ella Ratnor, who inspired him to write books for children.  Today he encourages others who struggle.

Listen and watch the world around you. Try to understand why things happen. Don’t be satisfied with answers others give you. Don’t assume that because everyone believes a thing it is right or wrong. Reason things out for yourself. Work to get answers on your own. Understand why you believe things. Finally, write what you honestly feel, then learn from the criticism that will always come your way.

Martin Nigel Davey

Martin Nigel Davey: Writer and actor.

When he first started acting, Martin Davey was told that, because he had trouble with reading in school, he could never act.

While acting as a teenager I was put off by people saying if you cannot read the script quickly you will never get a part, but glad to say I returned to the acting world at 30 and have met and worked with a lot of talented people.

However, the handsome British actor and director of highly acclaimed short films did not see it that way.  In fact, having embraced his dyslexia he incorporated into his acting method.

Director Ria Richardson points out

Although Martin is slightly dyslexic this is not a weakness but his strength. He may take longer with the script but his characters once built are without exception totally believable and real. His strengths lie in improvising the scenes and characterization. He is a joy to work with.

Improvisation only works if it enhances the character or the scene. As I’m dyslexic I like to learn the role first then add the correct lines after I’ve got the character. This is why improvisation suits me a bit better and I have been fortunate that directors have been happy to support me with this approach.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald: American author.

Born:  September 24, 1896

Died:  December 21, 1940
F. Scott Fitzgerald is as linked to the Jazz Era and the Lost Generation as Queen Victoria is to all things ornate.  The author of This Side of Paradise and The Great Gatsby had what might best be described as an uneven academic career.  His first story was published when he was 12, but he was later expelled for failing to keep up with his schoolwork.

The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.

After much hard work he got into Princeton, but then dropped out without graduating.

Either you think, or else others have to think for you and take power from you, pervert and discipline your natural tastes, civilize and sterilize you.

But of course, his struggles pale in comparison to his triumphs, just as he might have predicted.

Life is essentially a cheat and its conditions are those of defeat; the redeeming things are not happiness and pleasure but the deeper satisfactions that come out of struggle.

He left many lessons for anyone who wants to write.

You don’t write because you want to say something, you write because you have something to say.

He also left a few thoughts for those found it difficult.

Vitality shows in not only the ability to persist but the ability to start over.

Patricia Palacco

Patricia Palacco: children’s author and illustrator.

Born: July 11, 1944

The author of more than 40 books for children, Patricia Palacco has successfully turned the pain of being misunderstood into the joy of helping others.

I thought I was dumb. I didn’t like school because there was this boy that always teased me and made me feel even dumber. When I was fourteen, it was learned that I have a learning disability. It is called dyslexia. I felt trapped in a body that wouldn’t do what everybody else could do. That was when one of my hero’s, my teacher, found what was wrong with me and got me the help I needed to succeed in school.

Incidentally, that “hero” and the story of how he helped her is the subject of one of Palacco’s most popular books, Thank You, Mr. Falker. In fact, she wrote the book as a tribute to him and to encourage others to thank the teachers that have shaped their lives.

Of course, now that I am an adult, I realize that being learning disabled does not mean dumb at all! As a matter of fact, I have learned that being learning disabled only means that I cannot learn the way most of you do. As a matter of fact most learning disabled children are actually geniuses! Once I learned how to read and caught up with the rest of my fellow students, I did very well.

Stephen Hawking

Stephen Hawking: Professor and writer of physics, author A Brief History of Time

Born: January 8, 1942

Intelligence is the ability to adapt to change.

Stephen Hawking has had plenty opportunity to demonstrate the truth of the above statement.  As a child, his physics tutor remembers,

It was only necessary for him to know that something could be done, and he could do it without looking to see how other people did it. [...] He didn’t have very many books, and he didn’t take notes. Of course, his mind was completely different from all of his contemporaries.

Today, though he has been stricken by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, he remains determined.

It is no good getting furious if you get stuck. What I do is keep thinking about the problem but work on something else. Sometimes it is years before I see the way forward.

He also retains a wry sense of humor.

I have noticed even people who claim everything is predestined, and that we can do nothing to change it, look before they cross the road.

It is not clear that intelligence has any long-term survival value.

To confine our attention to terrestrial matters would be to limit the human spirit.

Hawking’s take on the value of the human spirit will, hopefully, encourage others.

We are just an advanced breed of monkeys on a minor planet of a very average star. But we can understand the Universe. That makes us something very special.

John Irving

Novelist and Oscar winning screenwriter.

Born: March 2, 1942

John Irving is the author of such famous novels as The World According to Garp, for which he a National Book Award,  and The Cider House Rules, which, in 2000, earned him an Oscar for Best Adapted Screenplay.  He has been honored by the National Endowment for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and the Guggenheim Foundation for his work in literature.   But this author suffered in elementary and high school.

The diagnosis of dyslexia wasn’t available in the late fifties – bad spelling like mine was considered a psychological problem by the language therapist who evaluated my mysterious case. When the repeated courses of language therapy were judged to have had no discernible influence on me, I was turned over to the school psychiatrist.

While he struggled with reading and writing his thoughts, he still had lots of creative ideas just waiting to be put on paper.  His determination to find his own voice, and his experience in doing is held out as a shining example for the young struggling writers of today.  Sally Shawitz referred to him in a 2004 interview with Donna Ricks.

If a child is dyslexic, can he be a good writer? That’s a good question, because many people confuse difficulties in reading and the ability to write. In fact, some of the most accomplished writers that we know happen to be dyslexic. For example, John Irving, who won an Academy Award for the Cider House Rules, is dyslexic.

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