Happy Father's Day!


We’re not sure if it’s nature or nurture or a combination of both, but these literary dads raised some literary kids. In honor of Father’s Day here’s a round-up of some of our favorite authors whose writing talent runs in the family. And we know there are more out there so we hope you'll share your favorites with us in the comments! 



William Godwin and Mary Shelley

In this case, this literary daughter is more well known than her dear old dad, but William Godwin has earned his place on this list. Godwin was a journalist, political philosopher, and novelist (check out this whopper of a title: Things as They Are; or, The Adventures of Caleb Williams). Godwin ensured that his daughter, Mary, received a better education than most women at the time, which is surely reflected in her writing including her masterpiece, Frankenstein.


Evelyn Waugh (post banana?) photo by Carl Van Vechten


The Waughs

The Waughs (Arthur, Evelyn, Alec, Auberon, Alexander, and Daisy) besides having the most amazing names ever, are perhaps the most literary family, well, ever. Patriarch Arthur was an author, critic and novelist, and raised two novelist sons, Alec and Evelyn. Evelyn, perhaps the best well-known of the Waughs, was the author of Brideshead Revisited, Vile Bodies, and A Handful of Dust among others. Evelyn’s son Auberon (after forgiving his father for this banana incident) was a journalist, novelist, and the creator of everyone’s favorite literary prize, the Bad Sex in Fiction Award. Auberon’s son, Alexander, is a nonfiction author, whose work includes a book on the Waughs, Fathers and Sons: The Autobiography of a Family. And finally, Auberon’s daughter, Daisy, is a novelist, journalist, and tarot card reader. We hope you can keep that family tree straight!



John Cheever


John, Susan, and Benjamin Cheever

Known as “the Chekhov of the suburbs,” John Cheever was a master of the short story form, while also writing longer works including Falconer, and The Wapshot Chronicle. (For more on John's short stories, check out this video from our archives featuring Elizabeth Strout, Susan Minot, and Rick Moody, talking about his legacy.) John's daughter, Susan, became a writer of fiction and nonfiction, including a memoir focused on her father. Benjamin, Cheever’s son, also became a writer, and has edited volumes of his father’s letters and journals.



Kingsley Amis


Kingsley and Martin Amis

The great comic writer Kingsley Amis didn’t have such a literary background. He was the child of a mustard manufacturer’s clerk, but the author of such masterpieces as Lucky Jim. He raised a literary son, Martin Amis (although Martin credits his novelist stepmother, Elizabeth Jane Howard, for motivating him to be more serious about his writing). The younger Amis, author of London Fields, The Pregnant Widow, and most recently The Zone of Interest, resides in Brooklyn with his wife, the novelist Isabel Fonseca, and their two (we can only assume) very literary daughters.



Elmore and Peter Leonard

When your dad's Elmore Leonard, crime fiction master and writer of Get Shorty, Out of Sight and Raylan, then you might be a little shy about taking on the genre. Elmore’s son Peter had a career in advertising and only started writing when he was in his late forties. Waiting paid off though, as Peter is now the author of seven novels of his own. We were honored to host Elmore Leonard in 2012 as part of the Crime Fiction Academy


James Lee Burke and Alafair Burke

Another crime fiction writer with a literary child, James Lee Burke is an Edgar-award winning author, and was presented with with the Grand Master Award from the Mystery Writers of America. His daughter Alafair, besides having served as a Deputy District Attorney and law professor, is the author of many crime novels of her own including two written with the legendary Mary Higgins Clark. And if this isn’t a literary enough family for you, James Lee Burke is the cousin of famed writer Andre Dubus II, whose son Andre Dubus III is the author of House of Sand and Fog among others. 



Stuart and Nick Dybek

The elder Dybek is known for his mastery of the short-story form. Among his numerous collections are Paper Lantern: Love Stories and Ecstatic Cahoots: Stories. Stuart appeared at the Center in 2014 to celebrate their joint publication. Nick, his son, is the author of the novel When Captain Flint Was Still a Good Man, and was a member of our own literary family in our Writers' Studio.  



Peter and Emma Straub

We have a soft spot for this father/daughter duo at the Center for Fiction. Although known for his horror writing, Peter Straub's work stretches into other territories (he started his career as a poet). Following in her father's footsteps, Emma Straub has become a bestselling novelist. Her most recent book, Modern Lovers, has been garnering rave reviews since it came out in May. 




Stephen King, Owen King and Joe Hill

Talk about intimidating writer legacies! We're wrapping up our list with one of the most famous living writers. Bestselling author Stephen King has written over fifty books. Somehow in between all that typing, King raised three children, with his wife, writer Tabitha King. Their sons Owen King (who is married to author Kelly Braffet) and Joe Hill have gone on to start successful writing careers of their own. We were lucky enough to host Stephen and Owen in conversation together a few years ago to benefit our Books for NYC Schools/KidsRead program.







Help us make a podcast! 


Since 2005, The Center for Fiction has been presenting some of the most exciting writers working today. Now, we are launching a unique new podcast: Fiction Talks. Twice a month, beginning in September, we'll feature exclusive talks taken from our vast archive, bringing you the thoughts, feelings, and advice of great authors from the world of fiction.


We've launched a Kickstarter campaign to help bring this podcast to you! We hope you'll consider donating so that we can remaster the audio from our events. Click here for more information and to lend your support.  


Post Comment
  • Rita Juster Posted on September 01, 2018 09:51I enjoyed reading and had the pleasure of participating in a short story workshop with Joe Hill before he "came out" as Stephen King's son. Perhaps a future article will include Andre Dubus II and Andre Dubus III.
View all comments