About the Authors
Lucy Maud Montgomery was born on November 30th, 1874, in Clifton, Prince Edward Island, Canada. Although she lived during a time when few women received a higher education, Lucy attended Prince Wales College in Charlottestown, PEI, and then Dalhousie University in Halifax. At seventeen she went to Halifax, Nova Scotia, to write for a newspaper, the Halifax Chronicle, and for its evening edition, the Echo. But Lucy returned to live with her grandmother in Cavendish, PEI, where she taught and contributed stories to magazines. It was this experience, along with the lives of her farmer and fisherfolk neighbors, that came alive when she wrote her Anne books, beginning with Anne of Green Gables (1908). Anne of Green Gables brought her overnight success and international recognition. It was followed by eight other books about Anne and Avonlea, as well as a number of other delightful novels, including her Emily series, which began in 1923 with Emily of New Moon. But it is her delightful heroine Anne Shirley, praised by Mark Twain as “the most moving and delightful child of fiction since the immortal Alice,” who remains a popular favorite throughout the world. She and her husband, the Rev. Ewen MacDonald, eventually moved to Ontario. Lucy Montgomery died in Toronto in 1942.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859–1930) was born of Irish parentage in Scotland. He studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, but he also had a passion for storytelling. His first book introduced that prototype of the modern detective in fiction, Sherlock Holmes. Despite the immense popularity Holmes gained throughout the world, Doyle was not overly fond of the character and preferred to write other stories. Eventually popular demand won out and he continued to satisfy readers with the adventures of the legendary sleuth. He also wrote historical romances and made two essays into pseudoscientific fantasy: The Lost World and The Poison Belt.
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.
Willa Cather (1873–1947), the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of more than fifteen books, is widely considered one of the major fiction writers of the twentieth century. She grew up in Nebraska and is best known for her depictions of frontier life on the Great Plains in novels such as O Pioneers!, My Ántonia, and Song of the Lark. In 1944 she was awarded the American Academy of Arts and Letters Gold Medal for Fiction. She won the Pulitzer Prize in 1923 for One of Ours.
Hans Christian Andersen (1805–1875) was born in Odense, Denmark, the son of a poor shoemaker and a washerwoman. As a young teenager, he became quite well known in Odense as a reciter of drama and as a singer. When he was fourteen, he set off for the capital, Copenhagen, determined to become a national success on the stage. He failed miserably, but made some influential friends in the capital who got him into school to remedy his lack of proper education. In 1829 his first book was published. After that, books came out at regular intervals. His stories began to be translated into English as early as 1846. Since then, numerous editions, and more recently Hollywood songs and Disney cartoons, have helped to ensure the continuing popularity of the stories in the English-speaking world.
Mark Twain, pseudonym of Samuel L. Clemens (1835–1910), was born in Florida, Missouri, and grew up in Hannibal on the west bank of the Mississippi River. He attended school briefly and then at age thirteen became a full-time apprentice to a local printer. When his older brother Orion established the Hannibal Journal, Samuel became a compositor for that paper and then, for a time, an itinerant printer. With a commission to write comic travel letters, he traveled down the Mississippi. Smitten with the riverboat life, he signed on as an apprentice to a steamboat pilot. After 1859, he became a licensed pilot, but two years later the Civil War put an end to the steam-boat traffic.
In 1861, he and his brother traveled to the Nevada Territory where Samuel became a writer for the Virginia City Territorial Enterprise, and there, on February 3, 1863, he signed a humorous account with the pseudonym Mark Twain. The name was a river man’s term for water “two fathoms deep” and thus just barely safe for navigation.
In 1870 Twain married and moved with his wife to Hartford, Connecticut. He became a highly successful lecturer in the United States and England, and he continued to write.
Harriet Beecher Stowe (1811–1896) was born in Litchfield, Connecticut, the daughter of an outspoken religious leader, who raised her on devotional tales of Christian charity and brotherhood. When her father moved the family to Cincinnati, she had her first exposure to slavery and abolitionism, witnessing race riots, hearing the stories of runaway slaves, and aiding fugitive slaves from the South.
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.
Anthony Trollope (1815–1882) grew up in London. He inherited his mother’s ambition to write and was famously disciplined in the development of his craft. His first novel was published in 1847 while he was working in Ireland as a surveyor for the General Post Office. He wrote a series of books set in the English countryside as well as those set in the political life, works that show great psychological penetration. One of his greatest strengths was his ability to re-create in his fiction his own vision of the social structures of Victorian England. The author of forty-seven novels, he was one of the most prolific and respected English novelists of the Victorian era.
About the Narrators
Penny Reid is a part-time author of romantic fiction. When she’s not immersed in penning smart romances, she works in the biotech industry as a researcher.
Phil Gigante has narrated more than two hundred audiobooks, earning ten AudioFile Earphones Awards and three of the prestigious Audie Awards for best narration. An actor, director, and producer with over twenty years of experience in theater, film, television, and radio, he is currently the artistic director of Gigantic Productions and Little Giant Children’s Theatre.
Natalie Ross is an actress and voice-over artist whose acting credits include multiple appearances in the television series All My Children, among others. She is an AudioFile Earphones Award–winning narrator.
Robin Sachs (1951–2013), actor and narrator, was raised in London and trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. His audiobook narrations earned ten Earphones Awards. His acting credits include Alias, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Dynasty, Nowhere Man, Babylon 5, Diagnosis Murder, Galaxy Quest, Northfork, Ocean’s 11, The Lost World: Jurassic Park, and Megalodon.