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About the Author
Herman Melville (1819-1891) was an American novelist, short story writer, essayist, and poet who received wide acclaim for his earliest novels, such as Typee and Redburn, but fell into relative obscurity by the end of his life. Today, Melville is hailed as one of the definitive masters of world literature for novels including Moby Dick and Billy Budd, as well as for enduringly popular short stories such as Bartleby, the Scrivener and The Bell-Tower.
Jennifer Bradshaw has lent her voice to a number of audio books, including Secret Life of a Vampire: Love at Stake, Willow Springs, and The Crime Is Murder.
John Lee, a stage actor and writer and a coproducer of feature films, has narrated more than one hundred audiobooks of every conceivable genre, earning forty-four Earphones Awards and the prestigious Audie Award.
Ambrose Bierce (1842-1914) was an American novelist and short story writer. Born in Meigs County, Ohio, Bierce was raised Indiana in a poor family who treasured literature and extolled the value of education. Despite this, he left school at 15 to work as a printer's apprentice, otherwise known as a "devil", for the Northern Indianan, an abolitionist newspaper. At the outbreak of the American Civil War, he enlisted in the Union infantry and was present at some of the conflict's most harrowing events, including the Battle of Shiloh in 1862. During the Battle of Kennesaw Mountain in 1864, Bierce--by then a lieutenant--suffered a serious brain injury and was discharged the following year. After a brief re-enlistment, he resigned from the Army and settled in San Francisco, where he worked for years as a newspaper editor and crime reporter. In addition to his career in journalism, Bierce wrote a series of realist stories including "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge" and "Chickamauga," which depict the brutalities of warfare while emphasizing the psychological implications of violence. In 1906, he published The Devil's Dictionary, a satirical dictionary compiled from numerous installments written over several decades for newspapers and magazines. In 1913, he accompanied Pancho Villa's army as an observer of the Mexican Revolution and disappeared without a trace at the age of 71.
Jack London (1876-1916) was an American novelist and journalist. Born in San Francisco to Florence Wellman, a spiritualist, and William Chaney, an astrologer, London was raised by his mother and her husband, John London, in Oakland. An intelligent boy, Jack went on to study at the University of California, Berkeley before leaving school to join the Klondike Gold Rush. His experiences in the Klondike--hard labor, life in a hostile environment, and bouts of scurvy--both shaped his sociopolitical outlook and served as powerful material for such works as "To Build a Fire" (1902), The Call of the Wild (1903), and White Fang (1906). When he returned to Oakland, London embarked on a career as a professional writer, finding success with novels and short fiction. In 1904, London worked as a war correspondent covering the Russo-Japanese War and was arrested several times by Japanese authorities. Upon returning to California, he joined the famous Bohemian Club, befriending such members as Ambrose Bierce and John Muir. London married Charmian Kittredge in 1905, the same year he purchased the thousand-acre Beauty Ranch in Sonoma County, California. London, who suffered from numerous illnesses throughout his life, died on his ranch at the age of 40. A lifelong advocate for socialism and animal rights, London is recognized as a pioneer of science fiction and an important figure in twentieth century American literature.
Bret Harte (1836-1902) was born in Albany, New York, and was raised in New York City. He had no formal education, but he inherited a love for books. Harte wrote for the San Franciscan Golden Era paper. There he published his first condensed novels, which were brilliant parodies of the works of well-known authors, such as Dickens and Cooper. Later, he became clerk in the US branch mint. This job gave Harte time to also work for the Overland Monthly, where he published his world-famous "Luck of the Roaring Camp" and commissioned Mark Twain to write weekly articles. In 1871, Harte was hired by the Atlantic Monthly for $10,000 to write twelve stories a year, which was the highest figure paid to an American writer at the time.
Katherine Mansfield was a popular New Zealand short-story writer best known for the stories The Woman at the Shore, How Pearl Button Was Kidnapped, The Doll's House, and her twelve-part short story Prelude, which was inspired by her happy childhood. Although Mansfield initially had her sights set on becoming a professional cellist, her role as editor of the Queen's College newspaper prompted a change to writing. Mansfield's style of writing revolutionized the form of the short story at the time, in that it depicted ordinary life and left the endings open to interpretation, while also raising uncomfortable questions about society and identity. Mansfield died in 1923 after struggling for many years with tuberculosis.
James Joyce (1882-1941) was an Irish author, poet, teacher, and critic. Joyce centered most of his work around the city of Dublin, and portrays characters inspired by the author's family, friends, enemies, and acquaintances. After a drunken fight and misunderstanding, Joyce and his wife, Nora Barnacle, self-exiled, leaving their home and traveling from country to country. Though he moved way from Ireland, Joyce continued to write about the region and was popular among the rise of Irish nationalism. Joyce is regarded as one of the most influential writers of the 20th century. While his most famous work is his novel Ulysses, Joyce wrote many novels and poetry collections, including some that were published posthumously.
E.M. Forster (1879-1970) was an English author of novels, short stories and essays. Several of his works have claim to lasting fame, notably the novels Howard's End, A Passage to India and A Room With a View. Deeply concerned with human connection and the barriers created to it by class and social mores, Forster's books were well received in his lifetime and several have gone on to be adapted as celebrated films. One of the most esteemed authors of his generation, Forster never won the Nobel Prize in Literature but was nominated for the honor 16 times.
Alphonse Daudet (1840-1897) was a French novelist and the father of writers Leon Daudet and Lucien Daudet. He is regarded as one of the most iconic names in French literature.
F. Scott Fitzgerald (1896-1940) was born in St. Paul, Minnesota. Upon graduating from Princeton, he served in the Army and worked briefly in advertising. He married his wife, Zelda, in 1920, a week after his first novel, This Side of Paradise, was published. His works, considered by many to be classics, include The Great Gatsby, Tender is the Night, and the uncompleted The Last Tycoon. He died of a heart attack at the age of 44.
O. Henry (1862-1910), born William Sydney Porter in Greensboro, North Carolina, was a short-story writer whose tales romanticized the commonplace, in particular, the lives of ordinary people in New York City. His stories often had surprise endings, a device that became identified with his name. He began writing sketches around 1887, and his stories of adventure in the Southwest United States and in Central America were immediately popular with magazine readers.