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Top Five Rivalries of Legendary Authors

By Kristin Masters. Jul 26, 2012. 3:42 AM.

Topics: Book Collecting, Literature

We all have our favorite--and not-so-favorite authors. The same goes for writers themselves, and through the years many bitter rivalries have sprung up between legendary authors. A look at some of the most famous:

  • Bram Stoker v Oscar Wilde: Stoker was a frequent guest at the home of Lady Jane Wilde, Oscar's mother. Soon he met Florence Balcombe...who was (by some accounts) engaged to Wilde. Soon the tables were turned, and when Wilde heard that Balcombe was going to marry Stoker, he resolved to leave Ireland and never return.

  • F Scott Fitzgerald v Ernest Hemingway: Fitzgerald and Hemingway were born only three years apart. When they met in 1925 Fitzgerald had just published The Great Gatsby and seemed to be a rising star. Hemingway on the other hand, was still relatively unknown. The two were soon fast friends, but eventually the relationship went sour; Hemingway was embarrassed by Fitzgerald's drunken shenanigans, and the two eventually fell out. The rivalry was so epic that Scott Donaldson even chronicled it in Hemingway v Fitzgerald: The Rise and Fall of a Literary Friendship.

Ernest Hemingway and F Scott Fitzgerald
  • Lord Byron v John Keats: "You see what it is to be six feet tall and a lord," Keats famously said to a friend upon reading a glowing review of Byron's work. Lord Byron was an aristocrat who emulated Augustan poets like Alexander Pope; Keats was a struggling middle-class poet who adored Wordsworth and Coleridge. Byron's snobbery and Keats' envy fueled this longtime opposition.

  • Gore Vidal v John Updike: Vidal actually told the BBC of Updike, "I can't stand him." Well known for his manias, Vidal also excoriated famous figures like Abraham Lincoln and FDR. Updike never reciprocated Vidal's venom. On the contrary, he remained relatively silent, not even defending himself against Vidal's criticism. Vidal dismissed allegations that he was merely jealous of Updike, reminding interviewers that his books consistently outsold Updike's.
  • John Irving v Tom Wolfe:Tom Wolfe started everything by insulting both Norman Mailer and John Updike as "two old piles of bones." Irving's vituperative backlash included a response to a claim that Wolfe and Irving were having a "war": "I don't think it's a war because you can't have a war between a pawn and a king, can you?" Wolfe replied cooly, evoking the success of A Man in Full.  

Which of these rivalries most surprises you? And what other rivalries should we add to the list?

Kristin Masters
Master Content Brain. You think it, she writes it, no good thought remains unposted. Sprinkles pixie dust on Google+, newsletters, blog, facebook, twitter and just about everything else.


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