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Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hidden Identities

While serving a term in prison for embezzlement, William Sydney Porter published his first short story under the pseudonym O’Henry. With that nom de plume, he immortalized one of his guards, reportedly named Orrin Henry. This is but one of "10 Odd Stories Behind Famous Authors’ Nom de Plumes," published April 7 in the cultural news and critique blog Flavorwire.

Others include the origin of “Dr. Seuss.” When Theodor Geisel was fired from his editor-in-chief job on Dartmouth’s humor magazine, he continued to submit under the pseudonym Seuss (his middle name). The “K” in J.K. Rowling’s name doesn’t stand for Rowling’s middle name. She doesn’t have one. Her publisher thought the Harry Potter series might sell better if she disguised her gender, so Joanna Rowling added her grandmother’s name “Kathleen.”

From Benjamin Franklin to Mark Twain and Stephen King, authors have been partial to nom de plumes. Interested in the origins of well-known pseudonyms? You can visit most branches and browse a reference copy of Dictionary of Pseudonyms: 11,000 Assumed Names and Their Origins by Adrian Room (REF 929.4 R, 4th edition).

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Great Southern Novels

Writer Wiley Cash. who hails from western North Carolina, recently published his list of 11 Greatest Southern Novels. The author, who just published A Land More Kind Than Home, is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post.

“Many of these novels are works that aided in my development as a young writer who desperately wanted to become a Southern writer, “Cash wrote. “Many of these novels aided in my development as a young man who found himself questioning what it means to be ‘Southern’ and to have people, for reasons good or bad, describe you that way.”

Here is a sampling from his list:

Look Homeward, Angel by Thomas Wolfe

Light in August by William Faulkner

In Country by Bobbie Ann Mason

Of Love and Dust by Ernest J. Gaines

I Am One of You Forever by Fred Chappell

Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Happy National Library Week!

It’s National Library Week (April 8-14) and the American Library Association has some great ideas for celebrating at You can enjoy a YouTube interview with author Brad Meltzer , honorary chair of National Library Week. Also, if you are quick (contest ends today), you can enter the You Belong at Your Library Six Word Story Sweepstakes on Twitter. Just tweet your story at #nlw6w0rds for a chance to win the first season of Brad Meltzer’s Decoded. If you win, let us know @fairfaxlibrary.

Also take some time to read the ALA’s 2012 State of America's Libraries Report released on Monday.

And stay tuned. The Fairfax County Public Library will celebrate Library Snapshot Day on April 21 and later share with you what a day in the life of your local library system looks like.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Move Over, Katniss

With the recent celebrity of Katniss Everdeen, Susan Collins’ heroine in The Hunger Games, it’s easy to forget the independent female characters of earlier days. Writing in Forbes, guest blogger Preeti of Scholastic Book Clubs joins others to pair some great characters and their women authors (“Katniss Everdeen, Meet Hermione, Ramona, Jane Eyre and Six Other Unforgettable Lady Characters by Female Authors,” March 27, 2012). Here is a sampling of her list:

Beverly Cleary’s Ramona Quimby. “. . .a role model for women young and old—confident, spunky and full of life.”

Madeline L’Engle’s Meg Murray. “Meg is a real person, but despite her faults and her clumsiness, she gets her guy, reunites her family and saves the world.

J.K. Rowling’s Hermione. In the Harry Potter series “her journey from 11 to 17 is one many of us can relate to: awkward and inconvenient. But in the end, that same journey gets her happily-ever-after.”

Jane Austen’s Elizabeth Bennet. “She proved that a girl need not bend to convention to fall in love.”

Charlotte Bronte’s Jane Eyre. “. . .she proves that with determination and hope you can go a long way.”