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Charlottesville, A Writer’s Haven

In part due to Charlottesville’s dedication to quality education and in part due to inspiration derived from the land’s natural beauty, the Charlottesville-Albemarle area is known for producing quality novelists, poets, and columnists.

  • S.S. Van Dine: Though primarily an art critic, Van Dine is noted for his immensely popular fictional detective Philo Vance, who appeared in books, television, and radio beginning in the Roaring Twenties.
  • Edgar Allen Poe: Poe, native of Richmond, Virginia, attended the University of Virginia for one semester. As a writer, editor, literary critic, and editor, Edger Allen Poe is recognized as a major player in the American Romantic Movement. He wove tales of mystery, and today is commonly referenced in popular culture for his poem “The Raven”.
  • William Faulkner: At one point, William Faulker served as Writer-in-Residence at UVA. He was later recognized as one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century and as one of the most important Southern writers. Able to write across mediums, William Faulker was best known as a novelist and short story writer, but was an occasional poet and screenwriter.
  • Julia Magruder: Magruder was a novelist whose works were widely circulated in the Ladies’ Home Journal. She later received the award from the Académie Française.
  • William McGuffey: After becoming a Professor of Philosophy at UVA, McGuffey wrote the McGuffey Readers, one of America’s most widely circulated series of textbooks. Over 122 million copies of the books were sold between 1836 and 1960, which places the McGuffey Readers in the same sales category as the Bible and Webster’s Dictionary.
  • Kenneth Mladenka: At one point a professor of government and foreign affairs at UVA, Mladenka was a well-known political scientist who researched the urban political process, local government, and bureaucracy extensively.
  • John Grisham: Grisham, a Charlottesville local, is well-known for his popular legal thrillers. As of 2008, his books had sold over 250 million copies, and Grisham is one of only three authors to have sold over 2 million copies of a book on a first printing. Eight of his novels have been adapted as movies, and today his books are translated into 29 languages and printed worldwide.
  • William McDonough: McDonough is a local architect and founder of William McDonough + Partners. After much research on designing environmentally sustainable buildings, McDonough wrote “Cradle to Cradle: Remaking the Way We Make Things”.
  • Rob Sheffield: As a music journalist and author, Sheffield is currently a contributing editor of Rolling Stone. His memoir, Love is a Mix Tape, takes place almost entirely in Charlottesville, Virginia.
  • Jan Karon: Karon writes novels geared towards both children and adults, but is most known for her series on Jessica Mitford, for which she won an ABBY Honor Award.
  • John Casey: John Casey, a novelist, has won the National Book award for Spartina, “Mildred and Harold Strauss Living” Award, and the Rome Prize. Casey is currently a Professor of English Literature at UVA.
  • Rita Mae Brown: Brown is a novelist most recognized for Rubyfruit Jungle and the Sneaky Pie Brown mysteries.
  • Ann Beattie: As a short story writer and novelist, Beattie has won countless literary awards, and her work has been compared to that of J.D. Salinger. Today, she is the Edgar Allan Poe Chair of the Department of English and Creative Writing at the University of Virginia.
  • Deborah Eisenberg: Eisenberg specializes in short stories, and has released to date four collections of stories. She has also published a play and several anthologies.
  • Dahlia Lithwick: Lithwick is a contributing editor at Newsweek and senior editor at Slate, where she covers legal correspondence.
  • Rita Dove: Now the chair of Commonwealth Professor of English at UVA, Dove was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 1993, and was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry.
  • Charles Wright: Wright is a Pulitzer Prize winning poet who is now serving as Chancellor of The Academy of American Poets and Souder Family Professor of English at the University of Virginia.