In 1960, a first-time author named Harper Lee published To Kill a Mockingbird. The novel blended a young Southern girl’s coming-of-age story with a provocative account of her attorney father’s losing struggle to defend an African American man falsely accused of rape. The best-seller won a Pulitzer Prize and became one of the most iconic works in modern American literature.
Best-selling novelist Jackie Collins, who died September 19 at age 77, lived in a Beverly Hills mansion and frequented Hollywood’s toniest hot spots, collecting dish for her sex- and scandal-filled chronicles of Tinseltown’s rich and famous, notably Hollywood Wives.
E.L. Doctorow took the art of historical novels a step beyond by reimagining historical figures as fictional characters. In his most famous work, the 1975 best-seller Ragtime, Doctorow, who passed away on July 21 in New York at age 84, set a cast that includes Harry Houdini, Sigmund Freud, Henry Ford and Booker T. Washington interact in scenes that never happened and yet reveal so much about the characters.
When it came to writing about crooks, cops and the bizarre predicaments in which they can find themselves, Elmore Leonard was the Stephen King of his genre - or perhaps, as Time magazine once described him, "The Dickens of Detroit." Leonard published 45 novels, starting with The Bounty Hunters in 1953 and ending with Raylan in 2011. His work inspired scores of hit movies, including Fifty-Two Pickup, Mr. Majestyk, Get Shorty, Out of Sight and Jackie Brown. The hit cable TV series Justified is based on two of his novels, Pronto and Riding the Rap.
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