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Author interview

Find out what the AbeBooks staff are saying on Reading Copy, the AbeBooks blog

Sons who have followed in their literary fathers' footsteps and become authors are surprisingly common. Perhaps it’s the genes? Perhaps it was inspiring to see father disappear off and hammer away at the typewriter for hour after hour. AbeBooks has selected the top 10 father and son author double-teams and there are plenty of big-hitters.

1. The Waugh Family

The Waughs are possibly the most amazing literary family in history in that they have been producing provocative writers for four generations. First was Arthur Waugh who broke from the family tradition of medicine and became a highly influential columnist, publisher, and author. He was the winner of the Newdigate Prize for Poetry in 1888 and wrote the first biography of Alfred Lord Tennyson in 1892. Arthurís two sons, Alec and Evelyn, continued their fatherís legacy with bestsellers like Alecís Island in the Sun and Evelynís Brideshead Revisited. Evelynís son Auberon had big shoes to fill but continued the family tradition as a journalist, writing five novels and creating the Bad Sex Awards, which recognize the worst description of sex in a novel. Auberonís son, Alexander, represents the fourth generation and is responsible for the family biography, Fathers and Sons.

2. Kingsley Amis and Martin Amis

Father Kingsley and son Martin are a tough literary one-two punch. Together this pair is responsible for more than 30 novels (including Kingsley's debut, Lucky Jim, and Martin's blockbusters, Money and London Fields) plus innumerable short stories and poems. Kingsley was also a prolific drinker. In 2008, Martin found employment at the University of Manchester, earning £80,000 a year as a professor of creative writing.

3. Stephen King and Joe Hill

Joe Hill is the pen name of Joseph Hillstrom King, the eldest son of horror master Stephen King. Joe began writing in 1997 and managed to rack up a number of awards before Variety broke his cover and he was forced to confirm that he was in fact related to the author of The Stand, Carrie, It, and all those other bestsellers. Joe Hillís debut novel Heart Shaped Box won a Stoker Award for best first novel.

4. Alexandre Dumas, pŤre and Alexandre Dumas, fils

Alexandre Dumas the younger was illegitimate. The Elder Alexandre Dumas is one of the most famous names in French literature, thanks to books like The Three Musketeers and The Count of Monte Cristo, and at the time he conceived his son French law allowed the father to take the child from his mother. The loss his mother experienced inspired Dumas, fils (the son) to blend tragic female characters into his own writing. The best known book of younger Dumas is The Lady of the Camellias, which influenced Giuseppe Verdi to write La Traviata.

5. H.G. Wells and Anthony West

While H.G. Wells was married to Amy Robbins, he had several affairs, including with novelist Rebecca West which resulted in the birth of Anthony West.  H.G. Wells, of course, is remembered for The Invisible Man, The Island of Doctor Moreau and War of the Worlds but Anthony wrote over a dozen books including a well regarded biography on his father called H.G. Wells: Aspects of a Life.

6. Mordecai Richler and his five author children

Canadian author Mordecai Richler wrote dozens of books, including the Jacob Two-Two children’s series, many adult fiction books including the multi-award winning Barney's Version and non-fiction works on travel and snooker.  The Richlers are a complete literary family with Mordecai having passed his writing gene on to all five of his children. Daniel Richler wrote a semi-autobiographical novel Kicking Tomorrow. Emma Richler wrote a short story collection, Sister Crazy, and a novel, Feed my Dear Dogs. Jacob Richler was the inspiration for the Jacob Two-Two series and has written for various magazines and newspapers. Noah Richler is a radio host, who wrote This Is My Country, What's Yours? A Literary Atlas of CanadaMartha Richler’s cartoons have appeared in newspapers. 

7. William F. Buckley and Christopher Buckley

William F. Buckley, who died in 2008, was one of America’s most well known conservative commentators and authors from the Regan era onwards.  He was the author of more than 50 books on writing, speaking, history, politics and even sailing.  He also tried his hand at fiction with a series of novels about a CIA agent called Blackford Oakes.  His son Christopher Buckley is a political satirist and his books include Thank you For Smoking and Little Green Men, and his most recent work is a memoir called Losing Mum and Pup.

8. Charles Dickens & Charles Dickens Jr.

We all know Charles Dickens, of course.  Charles Dickens Jr. was his father’s first child and worked as an editor for his dad’s magazine before getting into the business of writing dictionaries.  He went on to publish two dictionaries - Dickens's Dictionary of London and Dickens's Dictionary of the Thames.  He was also responsible for many of the introductions in posthumous reprints of his father’s books.

9. John Updike and David Updike

John Updike had four children with his first wife Mary Pennington – David, Michael, Miranda and Elizabeth. David followed in his father’s footsteps and had several short stories published in The New Yorker as well as a collection called Out on the Marsh.  He has also written a well-reviewed quartet of books for children - A Winter Journey (1985), An Autumn Tale (1988), A Spring Story (1989) and The Sounds of Summer (1993).

10. John Steinbeck and John Steinbeck IV

One of California’s most famous residents, John Steinbeck is a legend of literature and a Nobel and Pulitzer Prize winner.  He had two sons, Thomas and John IV, and both became writers. Thomas wrote numerous screenplays and documentaries as well as a book of short stories, Down To A Soundless Sea, which has been published in six languages.  John Steinbeck IV served in Vietnam as war correspondent.  His stories from the conflict can be found within the pages of In Touch.

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