American Writers

If Thornton Jenkins Hains ever spoke about the Titanic or his short-lived fame in the aftermath of the disaster, those thoughts are now lost to history.

Twice Accused of Murder, This Writer Later Foresaw the Sinking of the Titanic

Under the pseudonym Mayn Clew Garnett, author Thornton Jenkins Hains published a maritime disaster story with eerie parallels to the real-life tragedy

Last Call at the Hotel Imperial centers on journalists Dorothy Thompson, John Gunther, H.R. Knickerbocker and Jimmy Vincent Sheean.

A Century Ago, American Reporters Foresaw the Rise of Authoritarianism in Europe

A new book tells the stories of four interwar writers who laid the groundwork for modern journalism

Toshio Mori's Yokohama, California was slated for publication in fall 1942. Japan's bombing of Pearl Harbor—and Mori's incarceration under Executive Order 9066—delayed the short story collection's release until 1949.

The Fascinating—and Harrowing—Tale of the First Japanese American to Publish a Book of Fiction

After his incarceration during WWII, Toshio Mori released a collection of short stories based on his experiences as a second generation Asian immigrant

A first edition of Phillis Wheatley's Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral (1773), written while the poet was enslaved to John Wheatley of Boston. The book has a brown leather cover, the original Morocco spine label and a frontispiece featuring a portrait of Phillis by Scipio Morehead.


 

Women Who Shaped History

How Phillis Wheatley Beat All Expectations

The Revolution-era Boston establishment couldn't believe that the young African American woman wrote the exquisite book of poetry

bell hooks, pictured in 1999

Women Who Shaped History

Groundbreaking Feminist Scholar bell hooks Dies at 69

The prolific American writer shaped a generation of discourse around Black feminism and intersectionality

The fact that Osgood’s collection survives intact—or at all—is notable and perhaps inseparable from her lifelong friendship with a famous writer.

Women Who Shaped History

In 19th-Century New England, This Amateur Geologist Created Her Own Cabinet of Curiosities

A friend of Henry David Thoreau, Ellen Sewall Osgood's pursuit of her scientific passion illuminates the limits and possibilities placed on the era's women

Butler is not just a talented writer, says curator Monica Montgomery. She is “this magnifying, visionary author and was and is a social justice warrior for our times.”

Futures

The Pioneering Sci-Fi Writer Octavia E. Butler Joins a Pantheon of Celebrated Futurists

The author’s career is honored by a newly commissioned work by digital artist Nettrice Gaskins

Plath's recipe cards and rolling pin reflect her love of cooking—and her conflicted relationship with domestic life.

Explore Sylvia Plath's Love Letters, Recipe Cards and Tarot Deck

A trove of the American poet's personal possessions recently sold at auction for more than $1 million

Astronaut Sally Ride (left) and poet Maya Angelou (right) will be the first individuals honored through the American Women Quarters Program.

Women Who Shaped History

Maya Angelou, Sally Ride to Be Among First Women Featured on U.S. Quarters

Between 2022 and 2025, the U.S. Mint is set to highlight up to 20 trailblazing American women

A 1928 photograph of Ernest Hemingway, held in the collections of the Smithsonian's National Portrait Gallery, was taken in Paris by the artist Man Ray after the legendary writer suffered a life-threatening head injury.

In Search of the Authentic Ernest Hemingway

An upcoming PBS documentary prompts a deep-dive into the story behind this rarely published Smithsonian portrait of the legendary writer

This month's book picks include The Light of Days, The Musical Human and Empire of Ants.

Books of the Month

Women Resistance Fighters of WWII, the Secret Lives of Ants and Other New Books to Read

These April releases elevate overlooked stories and offer insights on oft-discussed topics

Through her literary works, “Kindred”, “Bloodchild”, “Parable of the Sower”, Butler explored themes of global warming, gender equality, political disparity and racism and as a result is known as the “mother” of Afrofuturism.

Mars' Perseverance Landing Site Named After Science Fiction Author Octavia E. Butler

The Jezero crater location has been named 'Octavia E. Butler Landing' in honor of the late literary giant

This month's book picks include Icebound, A Shot in the Moonlight and The Eagles of Heart Mountain.

Books of the Month

A Doomed Arctic Expedition, Number-Free Math and Other New Books to Read

These five January releases may have been lost in the news cycle

Erle Stanley Gardner is best remembered as a novelist. But he was also a lawyer deeply concerned about victims of injustice. “It is too easy to convict innocent persons,” he wrote in a 1959 letter to FBI director J. Edgar Hoover.

The Case of the Autographed Corpse

The author of the Perry Mason novels rose to the defense of an Apache shaman who was falsely convicted of killing his wife

Louise Glück, an esteemed American poet and teacher, won this year's Nobel Prize in Literature.

American Poet Louise Glück Wins Nobel Prize in Literature

The esteemed writer and teacher previously won the 1993 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry

Novelist and essayist Marilynne Robinson is one of 24 authors featured in "Her Story: A Century of Women Writers."

The Women Writers Who Shaped 20th-Century American Literature

A new show at the National Portrait Gallery spotlights 24 authors, including Lorraine Hansberry, Sandra Cisneros and Maxine Hong Kingston

The Reclaim Her Name campaign centers on 25 books published by authors who wrote under male pseudonyms.

Why a Campaign to 'Reclaim' Women Writers' Names Is So Controversial

Critics say Reclaim Her Name fails to reflect the array of reasons authors chose to publish under male pseudonyms

Louisa May Alcott wrote "Aunt Nellie's Diary" in 1849, almost 20 years prior to the publication of Little Women.

Early Short Story by Louisa May Alcott Published for the First Time

The "Little Women" author wrote "Aunt Nellie's Diary" in 1849, when she was 17 years old

Larry Kramer by Robert Giard, gelatin silver print, 1989

Playwright and AIDS Activist Larry Kramer Dies at 84

The American writer and public health advocate was "a lionhearted force," says Smithsonian curator Katherine Ott

Shel Silverstein's houseboat, Evil Eye, is up for sale.

Shel Silverstein's Historic Sausalito Houseboat Is Now on Sale

The children's book author and illustrator purchased the repurposed World War II vessel in 1967

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