A listing of Authors/Writers born in Minnesota who have left their mark in the world of literature and entertainment.
- Charlie Baxter (Minneapolis, MN)
Author; National Book Awards Finalist for his novel, “The Feast of Love” (2000). Many other literature awards and recognitions.
- Robert Bly (Madison, MN)
Poet/Author/Editor; Minnesota’s first Poet Laureate, 2008; founder of the expressive men’s movement; National Book Award for Poetry, 1968
- Scott Z. Burns (Golden Valley, MN)
Screenwriter, Producer, Director. A few of his screenplays include: The Bourne Ultimatum (2007), Contagion (2011), Side Effects (2013), An Inconvenient Truth (2006), The Informant! (2009). Burns is a University of Minnesota graduate.
- David Carr (Hopkins, MN)
Carr was a New York Times pop culture, media writer and published author. He began his career as an editor for the Twin Cities Reader from 1993 to 1995. His memoir “The Night of the Gun” details his past experiences with addiction. The film “Page One: Inside the New York Times” includes Carr’s work at the New York Times.
- Victor Cohn (Minneapolis, MN)
Writer/Futurist. Began career at the Minneapolis Tribune covering scientific research at the University of Minnesota. He moved to the Washington Post, where he served as editor and reporter. He was the recipient of many awards for his scientific and consumer reporting. His book “Our Hopeful Future” was about a family set in the future living in a world free of the technological obstacles, along the same lines as “The Jetsons”.
- Marvel Cooke (Mankato, MN)
Journalist/Activist; Cooke was the first African-American woman to work at a mainstream white-owned newspaper. Born in 1901, she was also the first African American child to be born in the city of Mankato, MN. She was married to world class sprinter and Olympic champion sailor Cecil Cooke in 1929.
- Marjory Douglas (Minneapolis, MN)
Referred to as “The Mother of the Everglades”. Best known for her best-selling book, “The Everglades: River of Grass” published in 1947. She was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1993.
- Bob Dylan (Robert Zimmerman) (Duluth, MN)
Why Bob Dylan in this category? The reason is because in 2016 he won the Nobel Prize for Literature. He is the first musician to have ever won this award.
- Richard Eberhart (Austin, MN)
Poet; received the 1966 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for his work, “Selected Poems: 1930-1965”, and a National Book Award in 1977 for his work “Collected Poems: 1930-1976”. He began college at the University of Minnesota but transferred to Dartmouth College after his mother’s death. Eberhart was Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress for 1959-61.
- Karen Louise Erdrich (Little Falls, MN)
Author of novels, poetry, and children’s books based in Native American heritage. Widely acclaimed as one of the most significant writers of the second wave of the Native American Renaissance. Erdich has won many literary awards and was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction for her novel The Plague of Doves.
- Antonia Felix (Minneapolis, MN)
A New York Times bestselling author which includes biographies of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, former NATO Commander Gen. Wesley K. Clark, First Lady Laura Bush and Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Sonia Sotomayor.
- F. Scott Fitzgerald (St. Paul, MN)
Author; Noted for his novels and short stories about youth, promise and despair during the Jazz Age of the “Roaring” 1920’s, the dawn of the Industrial Age. His masterpiece “The Great Gatsby”, first published in 1925, was a critique of the American Dream, and is now considered a timeless masterpiece.
- Vince Flynn (St. Paul, MN)
Author of “Protect and Defend” (#1 New York Times bestseller), “Extreme Measures” (also a #1 New York Times bestseller) and “Pursuit of Honor” (reached #2 on the New York Times bestseller list).
- Thomas L. Friedman (Minneapolis, MN)
Author/Reporter/Columnist; New York Times Columnist, recipient of three Pulitzer Prizes and the author of five bestselling books.
- Hal Goldman (St. Paul, MN)
Screenwriter, television director. An Emmy Award-winning television writer who (with writing partner Al Gordon) became one of Hollywood’s most sought after comedy writing team. Goldman wrote for Eddie Cantor, Jimmy Durante, Jack Benny, George Burns, Johnny Carson, Billy Crystal, Carol Burnett and many more. He helped usher Jack Benny from radio into the Golden Age of television. He won three Emmys in 1958 and 1959 (with Al Gordon) for the Jack Benny show and the “An Evening With Carol Channing” special in 1966. In 1986 he received a Writers Guild Award for George Burns’s 90th Birthday Salute.
- Allen Grossman (Minneapolis, MN)
Poet and Scholar. His many honors and awards include: a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” Award, the Bassine Citation of the Academy of American Poets, the Witter Bynner Prize for Poetry and Guggenheim Foundation fellowships. Earned his BA and MA from Harvard, and a PhD from Brandeis University.
- Mary (Welsh) Hemingway (Walker, MN)
Journalist; Welsh was the fourth (and final) wife of author Ernest Hemingway and was the first person to find him dead after his suicide in 1961. She was a journalist for the Chicago Daily News, Time Magazine, and the London Daily Express in the 1940’s and reported on the press conferences of Winston Churchill leading up to WWII.
- Amanda Hocking (Austin, MN)
Author; one of the most popular self-published authors in 2010-11. She was an unknown in April 2010, but by January 2011 had sold over 185,000 ebooks. She writes novels about young adult paranormal romance and urban fantasy.
- Bill Holm (Swede Prairie Township, MN)
Poet/Essayist; Coming Home Crazy: An Alphabet of China Essays, 2000
- Jerry Juhl (St. Paul, MN)
Writer; The Muppet Show, head writer, 1977-1981; The Muppet Movie and other Muppet movies, co-writer, 1979-1999; two Emmy Awards for his work on Sesame Street; Writers Guild of America awards, 1978 and 1979; Emmy Award, The Muppet Show, 1981; Fraggle Rock, head writer
- Garrison (Gary Edward) Keillor (Anoka, MN)
Author/Humorist/Poet; Creator/Host, A Prairie Home Companion;Lake Wobegon Days, 1990;
- Kevin Kling (Osseo, MN)
Storyteller/Performer/Playright; regular contributor on NPR’s “All Things Considered”. Kling has written many stage shows like “Tales from the Charred Underbelly of the Yule Log” and “The Ice Fishing Play”. He is also a published author.
- Sinclair Lewis (Sauk Centre, MN)
Author; Main Street, 1920; First American to win the Nobel Prize for Literature, 1930. His works are known for their insightful and critical views of American society and capitalist values. He first gained fame with his novel “Main Street”, a study of idealism and reality in a narrow-minded small-town.
- Maud Hart Lovelace (Mankato, MN)
Author; Lovelace’s famous Betsy-Tacy books were set in her girlhood hometown of Mankato, MN. Wrote Betsy-Tacy books from 1940-1955. She is buried in Glenwood Cemetery in Mankato, MN.
- Greg Mortenson (St. Cloud, MN)
Co-author of the New York Times bestselling book “Three Cups of Tea”, although CBS News’ 60 Minutes alleged “inaccuracies”. In 2009, Mortenson received Pakistan’s highest civil award the Sitara-e-Pakistan (“Star of Pakistan”) for his humanitarian effort to promote girls education. He was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize, in 2009 and 2010.
- Paul Nelson (Warren, MN)
Music Scholar/Critic; became one of the first rock music critics in the country and was instrumental in launching the careers of Bob Dylan, The New York Dolls, Elliott Murphy, Bruce Springsteen, Jackson Browne and Warren Zevon. He was considered one of “Rolling Stone” Magazine’s most influential record review editors.
- Tim O’Brien (Austin, MN)
Author, writes on his experience as a Vietnam Veteran. Received the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction in 1979 for his Vietnam novel “Going After Cacciato”. He was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for his book “The Things They Carried”. He grew up in Worthington, MN, and graduated with honors from Macalester College in St. Paul.
- Robert M. Pirsig (Minneapolis, MN)
Author; author of the philosophical novels “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance: An Inquiry into Values” (1974), and “Lila: An Inquiry into Morals” (1991).
- Harrison E. Salisbury (Minneapolis, MN)
Journalist; Received the Pulitzer Prize for articles he wrote after serving as The New York Times bureau chief in Moscow. He earned a B.A. degree from the University of Minnesota in 1930.
- LaVyrle Spencer (Browerville, MN)
Author; Family Blessings, best-selling writer of romance novels
- T.J. Stiles (Foley, MN)
Author; 2010 Pulitzer Prize winner for his biography “The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt”. He has written for The New York Times Book Review, Salon.com, Smithsonian, and the Los Angeles Times..
- Anne Tyler (Minneapolis, MN)
Novelist; Her novels include: A Slipping-Down Life (1970), Dinner at the Homesick Restaurant (1982), The Accidental Tourist (1985) to name a few. Many of her novels have been adapted into screenplays for Film and Television. She won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction in 1989 for her novel, Breathing Lessons (1988).
- Brenda Ueland (Minneapolis, MN)
Author; If You Want to Write, 1938; first female reporter for the Minneapolis Tribune; Knights of St. Olaf medal from the Norwegian government, 1946
- Melisa Wallack (Minneapolis, MN)
Wallack is screenwriter who has written for film and television. In 2014 she was nominated for an Oscar for her screenplay work on the film, “The Dallas Buyers Club” (2013). She also wrote the original screenplay for the film “Meet Bill”. She attended Skidmore College from which she graduated with a B.A. in English and a B.S. in Business.
- Will Weaver (Park Rapids, MN)
Author Will Weaver grew up in northern Minnesota on a dairy farm. His debut novel, “Red Earth, White Earth” was produced as a CBS television movie in 1989. A later story “Gravestone Made of Wheat” was adapted and used in the independent film “Sweet Land” which premiered in October of 2006.
- Lizz Winstead (Minneapolis, MN)
Writer/Producer; Co-creator and former head writer of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” and Co-founder of Air America Radio; Lizz Winstead has emerged as a critically acclaimed political writer and producer.
Individuals who were NOT born in Minnesota, but have lived, studied or spent a significant part of their lives in Minnesota.
- Carol Ryrie Brink (Moscow, Idaho)
Author of 30+ books for children and adults. Brink lived in St. Paul, MN for 40+ years. In 1936 she won the Newbery Medal for her second book “Caddie Woodlawn”.
- John Roswell Camp (born Cedar Rapids, Iowa; moved to Minnesota at age 34)
Writer/Journalist, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist for the St. Paul Pioneer Press. His first novel “Rules of Prey” was published in 1989. He has written 30 more books, all of which have appeared, in one format or another on the New York Times Best-Seller lists. Many of his novels take place in Minnesota. (pen name – “John Sanford”)
- Kate DiCamillo (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania)
Author. Best known for her books “The Tale of Despereaux” (winner of the Newbery Medal) and “Because of Winn-Dixie” (Newbery Honor) which was later adapted for film by the same title. She has lived in Minnesota since her 20’s, where the long winters have helped inspire books like “Because of Winn-Dixie”.
- Ignatius L. Donnelly (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Moved to Minnesota at age 26)
Writer / Politician. See Politicians/Public Officials
- Judith Guest (Detroit, Michigan)
Author / Screenwriter. Guest first book, “Ordinary People” (1976) was made into the 1980 film by the same name. It received four Academy Awards (Oscar) including Best Picture and starred Mary Tyler Moore. Guest was born and raised in Michigan, but has lived in Edina, Minnesota since 1976.
- Helen Hoover (Greenfield, Ohio)
Hoover lived in on Gunflint Lake in Northern Minnesota with her husband Ade for several years. She wrote of their time here through books called – “A Place in the Woods”, “The Gift of the Deer”, “Long-Shadowed Forest” and others. Her books were extremely popular. Her obituary was published in the New York Times.
- William Kent Krueger (Torrington, Wyoming)
Although not from Minnesota, Krueger certainly knows it pretty, well based on his novels that are set mostly within Minnesota. He has won Anthony Awards in 1998, 2005, 2006 and the Edgar Award for the Best Novel of 2013.
- Frederick Feikema Manfred (Doon, Iowa)
Manfred’s book “Lord Grizzly” was a best seller and one of the finalists for the National Book Award in 1954. He once lived in a house which is now the interpretive center of Blue Mounds State Park in Luverne, Minnesota.
- Mary McCarthy (Seattle, WA)
Author of twenty-eight books and winner of numerous literary awards. Her upbringing in Minneapolis is depicted in her work, “Memories of a Catholic Girlhood” (1957). Her novel “The Group” (1963) was on the New York Times Best Seller list for almost two years.
- Ole E. Rolvaag (Donna Island, Norway)
Author; Giants in the Earth: A Saga of the Prairie, 1927; Professor of Norwegian St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN. Became well known for his writings on the Norwegian American immigrant experience on the mid-western plains of the United States in the 1800’s.
- Sarah Susanka (Kent, England)
Writer/Architect – Nine best-selling books, including “The Not So Big House” and “Creating the Not So Big House”. Masters degree from the University of Minnesota. Founding partner of Minneapolis-based architecture firm Mulfinger, Susanka, Mahady & Partners
- Thorstein Veblen (Cato, Wisconsin)
Author/Economist; The Theory of the Leisure Class, 1899; coined the term “conspicuous consumption”
- Laura Ingalls Wilder (Pepin, Wisconsin)
Author; Little House on the Prairie, 1935. Born in 1867, Wilder Lived in Walnut Grove, Minnesota between 1873-1879, between the age of about 6-12. Laura and her family then moved to De Smet, SD in 1879, a distance of about 110 miles by horse and a covered wagon.
- August Wilson (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania)
Playwright; Pulitzer Prize for Drama, 1987 (The Piano Lesson) and 1990 (Fences); Tony Award for Best Play, 1987 (Fences) and again in 2010 for the revival of “Fences”. It was while living in the Selby-Dale of St. Paul during 1978-1990 that he wrote “Fences”, “The Piano Lesson”, and “Jitney”. He did much of his writing at local establishments like W.A. Frost. Wilson launched his playwright career through the Playwright Center in Minneapolis, MN. The Penumbra Theatre (also in Minneapolis) is often cited as the theatre where he began his professional career as a playwright. Wilson later moved to Seattle (in 1990), and died there in 2005.