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Philadelphia’s Literary Legacy

Philadelphia’s Literary Legacy

The City of Brotherly Love has a literary history dating back to the years of Benjamin Franklin—before he was one of our country’s founding fathers, he was an acclaimed writer. And Franklin set the groundwork for what would be a long and, well, storied history of writers in Philadelphia.

Here are some of the most notable writers who hailed from or resided in the city we call home.

Edgar Allan Poe

Though the famed poet only spent a short period of time here (and mostly worked for literary magazines and organizations), it is in Philly that Poe wrote two of his most famous works, The Tell-Tale Heart and The Fall of the House of Usher. The mark he left on our city is so indelible, in fact, that some of his letters and personal belongings are housed at the Edgar Allan Poe National Historic Site located at Seventh Street Spring Garden. 

James A. Michener
Ernest Hemingway referred to Pulitzer Prize-winning Michener as “that gifted Philadelphia writer,” and that’s got to mean something. The Doylestown native penned over 40 novels, each set in a different location, including Hawaii, Texas and Chesapeake.

John O’Hara

Hemingway was also a fan of John O’Hara, who shot to notoriety after the release of his 1934 debut novel, Appointment in Samarra. The story is set in fictional Gibbsville, inspired by O’Hara’s hometown of Pottsville, a suburb of Philly.

Pearl S. Buck

Famed American novelist and Nobel Prize for Literature winner Buck resided in Green Hills Farm in Perkasie for 40 years during much of her literary career. Buck, who died in 1973, is most known for her 1930’s work The Good Earth, about a Chinese village, and her contributions to the civil and women’s rights movements. 

Jennifer Weiner
This Philly native basically invented modern day “chick lit.” Having gotten her start as a reporter and columnist for The Philadelphia Inquirer, Weiner’s relatable writing style and journalistic expertise eventually launched her to literary stardom, having written famous books like Good in Bed, Best Friends Forever and In Her Shoes, which was made into a 2005 romantic comedy starring Cameron Diaz.