What really knocks me out is a book that, when you’re all done reading it, you wish the writer that wrote it was a terrific friend of yours. Whom you could call him up on the phone or meet whenever you feel like it. That doesn’t happen much, though.
To pay tribute to these friends (in thoughts) and to keep their work alive i am starting a series of blogs to bring a little about the lives of every favorite writer of mine to one place. I am looking forward to find most of you as mutual friends of mine and these writers!
1. Charles John Huffam Dickens
7 FEBRUARY 1812 – 9 JUNE 1870
Charles Dickens is a phenomenon. His novels are read world wide and he enriched the English language. He mocked power and greed while speaking up for ordinary people. His public reading brought adoring crowds, and he was seen as a cheerful family man.
Charles John Huffam Dickens was an English writer and social critic. He created some of the world’s best-known fictional characters and is regarded by many as the greatest novelist of the Victorian era. His works enjoyed unprecedented popularity during his lifetime, and by the 20th century critics and scholars had recognised him as a literary genius. His novels and short stories enjoy lasting popularity.
Born in Portsmouth, Dickens left school to work in a factory when his father was incarcerated in a debtors’ prison. Despite his lack of formal education, he edited a weekly journal for 20 years, wrote 15 novels, five novellas, hundreds of short stories and non-fiction articles, lectured and performed extensively, was an indefatigable letter writer, and campaigned vigorously for children’s rights, education, and other social reforms.
Dickens’s literary success began with the 1836 serial publication of The Pickwick Papers. Within a few years he had become an international literary celebrity, famous for his humour, satire, and keen observation of character and society. His novels, most published in monthly or weekly instalments, pioneered the serial publication of narrative fiction, which became the dominant Victorian mode for novel publication. Cliffhanger endings in his serial publications kept readers in suspense. The installment format allowed Dickens to evaluate his audience’s reaction, and he often modified his plot and character development based on such feedback. For example, when his wife’s chiropodist expressed distress at the way Miss Mowcher in David Copperfield seemed to reflect her disabilities, Dickens improved the character with positive features. His plots were carefully constructed, and he often wove elements from topical events into his narratives. Masses of the illiterate poor chipped in ha’pennies to have each new monthly episode read to them, opening up and inspiring a new class of readers. Some of his all times favorite novels are Oliver Twist, Great Expectations, Hard Times, The Haunted Man and the Ghost’s Bargain.
A Biography is written on him by Claire Tomalin : CHARLES DICKENS
“A writer is someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.”
― Thomas Mann, Essays of Three Decades
2. Roald Dahl
13 SEPTEMBER 1916 – 23 NOVEMBER 1990
Roald Dahl was a British novelist, short story writer, poet, screenwriter, and fighter pilot. His books have sold more than 250 million copies worldwide.
Born in Wales to Norwegian parents, Dahl served in the Royal Air Force during the Second World War, in which he became a flying ace and intelligence officer, rising to the rank of acting wing commander. He rose to prominence in the 1940s with works for both children and adults and he became one of the world’s best selling authors. He has been referred to as “one of the greatest storytellers for children of the 20th century”. His awards for contribution to literature include the 1983 World Fantasy Award for Life Achievement, and the British Book Awards’ Children’s Author of the Year in 1990. In 2008, The Times placed Dahl 16th on its list of “The 50 greatest British writers since 1945”.
“A little nonsense now and then, is cherished by the wisest men” –Roald Dahl"
Dahl’s short stories are known for their unexpected endings and his children’s books for their unsentimental, macabre, often darkly comic mood, featuring villainous adult enemies of the child characters. His books champion the kind-hearted, and feature an underlying warm sentiment. Dahl’s works for children include James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The Witches, Fantastic Mr Fox, The BFG, The Twits and George’s Marvellous Medicine. His adult works include Tales of the Unexpected.
"He was mischievous. A grown-up being mischievous. He addresses you, a child, as somebody who knows about the world. He was a grown-up – and he was bigger than most who is on your side. That must have something to do with it."
—Illustrator Quentin Blake on the lasting appeal of Dahl’s children’s books.
“We have so much time and so little to do. Strike that, reverse it” -Roald Dahl"
3. Paulo Coelho
AUGUST 24, 1947 – PRESENT
Paulo Coelho de Souza is a Brazilian lyricist and novelist, writer and the recipient of numerous international awards. He is best known for his widely translated novel The Alchemist. He is the writer with the highest number of social media followers reaching over 29.5 million fans through his Facebook page and 12.2 million followers on Twitter. A keen user of electronic media, in 2014 he uploaded his personal papers online to create a virtual Paulo Coelho Foundation.
Paulo Coelho was born in Brazil and attended a Jesuit school. As a teenager, Coelho wanted to become a writer. Upon telling his mother this, she responded, “My dear, your father is an engineer. He’s a logical, reasonable man with a very clear vision of the world. Do you actually know what it means to be a writer?” At 17, Coelho’s introversion and opposition to following a traditional path led to his parents committing him to a mental institution from which he escaped three times before being released at the age of 20. Born into a Catholic family, his parents were strict about the religion and faith. Coelho later remarked that “It wasn’t that they wanted to hurt me, but they didn’t know what to do… They did not do that to destroy me, they did that to save me.” At his parents’ wishes, Coelho enrolled in law school and abandoned his dream of becoming a writer. One year later, he dropped out and lived life as a hippie, traveling through South America, North Africa, Mexico, and Europe and started using drugs in the 1960s. Upon his return to Brazil, Coelho worked as a songwriter, composing lyrics. In 1974, Coelho was arrested for “subversive” activities by the ruling military government, who had taken power ten years earlier and viewed his lyrics as left-wing and dangerous. Coelho also worked as an actor, journalist, and theatre director before pursuing his writing career.
“Be brave. Take risks. Nothing can substitute experience”
In 1986, Coelho walked the 500-plus mile Road of Santiago de Compostela in northwestern Spain, a turning point in his life. On the path, Coelho had a spiritual awakening, which he described autobiographically in The Pilgrimage. In an interview, Coelho stated ” In 1986, I was very happy in the things I was doing. I was doing something that gave me food and water – to use the metaphor in The Alchemist, I was working, I had a person whom I loved, I had money, but I was not fulfilling my dream. My dream was, and still is, to be a writer.” Coelho would leave his lucrative career as a songwriter and pursue writing full-time.
In 1982, Coelho published his first book,Hell Archives, which failed to make a substantial impact. In 1986 he contributed to the Practical Manual of Vampirism, although he later tried to take it off the shelves since he considered it “of bad quality.” After making the pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostela in 1986, Coelho wrote The Pilgrimage that was published in the year 1987. The following year, Coelho wrote The Alchemistand published it through a small Brazilian publishing house who made an initial print run of 900 copies and decided not to reprint. He subsequently found a bigger publishing house, and with the publication of his next bookBrida, The Alchemisttook off. HarperCollins, the biggest publishing House in the United States, decided to publish the book in 1994. Then, it became first a Brazilian bestseller, later a world-wide phenomenon. The Alchemist has gone on to sell more than 83 million copies, becoming one of the best-selling books in history, and has been translated into 81 different languages, winning the Guinness World Record for most translated book by a living author.
The Alchemist, easily known as his most successful book, is a story about a young shepherd who travels from his homeland in Spain to the Egyptian desert in search of a treasure buried in the Pyramids. No one knows what the treasure is, or if Santiago will be able to surmount the obstacles along the way. But what starts out as a journey to find worldly goods turns into a discovery of the treasure found within. The book has inspired a devoted following around the world, with Will Smith, Madonna, and others having declared it to be their favorite novel, and Bill Clinton having been seen with a copy of the book. In 2014, Oprah Winfrey interviewed pop star Pharrell Williams, who stated that The Alchemist had changed his life.
Since the publication of The Alchemist, Coelho has generally written one novel every two years including By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept, The Fifth Mountain, Veronika Decides to Die, The Devil and Miss Prym, Eleven Minutes, Brida, The Valkyries, The Winner Stands Alone, The Zahir, The Witch of Portobello, Aleph, Manuscript Found in Accra, Adultery and The Spy. While trying to overcome his procrastination of launching his writing career, Coelho said, “If I see a white feather today, that is a sign that God is giving me that I have to write a new book.” Coelho found a white feather in the window of a shop, and began writing that day.
In total, Coelho has published 30 books. Three of them – The Pilgrimage, The Valkyries and Aleph – are autobiographical, while the majority of the rest are fictional, although rooted in his life experiences. Others, like Maktub, The Manual of the Warrior of Light and Like the Flowing River, are collections of essays, newspaper columns, or selected teachings. In total, Coelho has sold more than 210 million books in over 170 countries worldwide (June 2015 sales figures), and his works have been translated into 81 languages.
On 22 December 2016, Coelho was listed by UK-based company Richtopia at number 2 in the list of 200 Most Influential Authors in the World.
“When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it” -Paulo Coelho
By Hassan Bashir He is a young entrepreneur, blogger, speaker, and student activist from Peshawar. He is currently enrolled in Chartered Accountancy program and also running an online bookstore which was initially started by his father Engr. Muhammad Bashir in 1998. He did O’Level from Lahore Grammar School and A’Level from Beaconhouse School system.