The best books about censorship

1 authors have picked their favorite books about censorship and why they recommend each book.

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Ban This Book

By Alan Gratz,

Book cover of Ban This Book

I love that Alan Gratz, a skillful storyteller, takes the important topic of banning and censoring books for children, and shows its dangerous side effects from a child’s point of view. We meet a well-meaning mother who wants to protect her child from, what she feels, are unsuited books in the school library. But one of those is Amy Anne’s most beloved book. She is not going to let these books disappear without a fight. In a respectful but effective manner she ends up showing the adults the importance of letting children make their own choices. 

Ban This Book

By Alan Gratz,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Ban This Book as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Amy Anne is shy and soft-spoken, but don't mess with her when it comes to her favorite book in the whole world. Amy Anne and her lieutenants wage a battle for the books that will make readers laugh and pump their fists as they start a secret banned books locker library, make up ridiculous reasons to ban every single book in the library to make a point, and take a stand against censorship.

Reminiscent of the classic novel Frindle by Andrew Clements, Ban This Book is a love letter to the written word and its power to give kids a…

Who am I?

I’ve been devouring books for most of my life. When I was young, I read Pippi Longstocking. I wanted to be just like her – strong, free, and independent. Through books I learned about other people in other countries, times, and circumstances. I have been writing books for a long time (I wrote 40) and work in (international schools) with teachers and students on their writing. From specific stories, readers learn universal wisdom. Many books written for children should be everybody-books! Books, more than any other medium, can help you to ‘walk a mile in someone else’s moccasins'. The books I picked to share with you all do this.


I wrote...

Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey

By Margriet Ruurs, Nizar Ali Badr (illustrator), Falah Raheem (translator)

Book cover of Stepping Stones: A Refugee Family's Journey

What is my book about?

This powerful picture book is the universal story of people searching to live in peace in a place without war. It was illustrated by a Syrian artist with natural stones on the beach of Syria. Published in both English and Arabic, the book has been translated into many languages and is raising both funds and awareness of the plight of refugee children.

Seal of Approval

By Amy Kiste Nyberg,

Book cover of Seal of Approval: The History of the Comics Code

Amy’s book takes on the same topic, but from the perspective of an academic—and with a more balanced, objective approach. In particular, she examines the role of anti-comics crusader Dr. Fredric Wertham, arguing that his “role in the crusade against comics has been largely misinterpreted by fans and scholars alike, who dismiss his findings as naïve social science, failing to understand how his work on comic books fits into the larger context of his beliefs about violence, psychiatry, and social reform." 

Seal of Approval

By Amy Kiste Nyberg,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Seal of Approval as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

For the past forty years the content of comic books has been governed by an industry self-regulatory code adopted by publishers in 1954 in response to public and governmental pressure.

This book examines why comic books were the subject of controversy, beginning with objections that surfaced shortly after the introduction of modern comic books in the mid-1930s, when parents and teachers accused comic books of contaminating children's culture and luring children away from more appropriate reading material.

It traces how, in the years following World War II, the criticism of comic books shifted to their content, and the reading of…

Who am I?

Brett Dakin is the author of American Daredevil: Comics, Communism, and the Battles of Lev Gleason and Another Quiet American: Stories of Life in Laos. Brett's writing has appeared in Foreign Affairs, the International Herald TribuneThe Washington Post, and The Guardian. A graduate of Princeton University and Harvard Law School, Brett grew up in London and now lives in New York City with his husbandand their dog, Carl.


I wrote...

American Daredevil: Comics, Communism, and the Battles of Lev Gleason

By Brett Dakin,

Book cover of American Daredevil: Comics, Communism, and the Battles of Lev Gleason

What is my book about?

Meet Lev Gleason, a real-life comics superhero! Gleason was a titan among Golden Age comics publishers who fought back against the censorship campaigns and paranoia of the Red Scare. After dropping out of Harvard to fight in France, Gleason moved to New York City and eventually made it big with groundbreaking titles like Daredevil and Crime Does Not Pay.

Brett Dakin, Gleason's great-nephew, opens up the family archives and the files of the FBI to take you on a journey through the publisher's life and career. American Daredevil, you'll learn the truth about Gleason's rapid rise to the top of comics, unapologetic progressive activism, and sudden fall from grace. Whether it was Dr. Frederic Wertham and Seduction of the Innocent or the House Un-American Activities Committee, Gleason was always ready to take on the enemy.

Book cover of The Constitution of Knowledge: A Defense of Truth

If humans are the rational animal, why does the world seem to be losing its mind? Why the fake news, the conspiracy theories, the post-truth rhetoric? Rauch explains that truth is a precious commodity, which none of us is smart enough to discover on our own. We depend on institutions and norms – like science, with empirical testing, and journalism, with editing and fact-checking, and democracy, with checks and balances, and academia, with peer review and freedom of inquiry – to make us collectively smarter than any of us is individually. This infrastructure of truth is constantly being corroded – today, by social media and authoritarian populism – and must be cherished and fortified.

The Constitution of Knowledge

By Jonathan Rauch,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Constitution of Knowledge as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Arming Americans to defend the truth from today's war on facts.

Disinformation. Trolling. Conspiracies. Social media pile-ons. Campus intolerance. On the surface, these recent additions to our daily vocabulary appear to have little in common. But together, they are driving an epistemic crisis: a multi-front challenge to America's ability to distinguish fact from fiction and elevate truth above falsehood.

In 2016 Russian trolls and bots nearly drowned the truth in a flood of fake news and conspiracy theories, and Donald Trump and his troll armies continued to do the same. Social media companies struggled to keep up with a flood…


Who am I?

I’m a Harvard professor of psychology and a cognitive scientist who’s interested in all aspects of language, mind, and human nature. I grew up in Montreal, but have lived most of my adult life in the Boston area, bouncing back and forth between Harvard and MIT except for stints in California as a professor at Stanford and sabbatical visitor in Santa Barbara and now, Berkeley. I alternate between books on language (how it works, what it reveals about human nature, what makes for clear and stylish writing) and books on the human mind and human condition (how the mind works, why violence has declined, how progress can take place).


I wrote...

Book cover of Rationality: What It Is, Why It Seems Scarce, Why It Matters

What is my book about?

How can a species that developed vaccines for Covid-19 in less than a year produce so much fake news, medical quackery, and conspiracy theorizing?

I reject the cliché that humans are just cavemen out of time, saddled with biases, fallacies, and illusions. Instead, we think in ways that are sensible in the low-tech contexts in which we spend most of our lives, but fail to take advantage of the powerful tools of reasoning our best thinkers have discovered over the millennia: logic, critical thinking, probability, correlation, and causation, and optimal ways to update beliefs and commit to choices individually and with others. These tools are not a standard part of our educational curricula and have never been presented clearly and entertainingly in a single book—at least until I had a go at it in this book.

The Eyre Affair

By Jasper Fforde,

Book cover of The Eyre Affair

The place is definitely not of this universe. Literature—not sports and movies—dominates the culture. Thursday Next is a special agent in the Literary Detection branch. She tracks down forgers and whatnot. More notably, she can enter the worlds of fiction. Literally rub elbows with, say, a living, breathing Madame Bovary. But in this adventure, she has to prevent the snuffing of another protagonist…Jane Eyre. An arch-villain aims to snatch Jane out of her novel and erase her from all literature; then start croaking other famous fictional characters. And only Thursday can stop him.

For my money, Jasper Fforde’s first novel is a little masterwork of mystery, wit, and weirdness. And believe me, there are far more treasures in it than my description even hints at.

The Eyre Affair

By Jasper Fforde,

Why should I read it?

5 authors picked The Eyre Affair as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Meet Thursday Next, literary detective without equal, fear or boyfriend

Jasper Fforde's beloved New York Times bestselling novel introduces literary detective Thursday Next and her alternate reality of literature-obsessed England-from the author of The Constant Rabbit

Fans of Douglas Adams and P. G. Wodehouse will love visiting Jasper Fforde's Great Britain, circa 1985, when time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously: it's a bibliophile's dream. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem and forging Byronic…

Who am I?

Since I was a kid, I've devoured books. But I have to be perfectly honest here and confess that my taste has always run to genre fiction. Mystery. Science fiction. Adventure. Fantasy. Suspense. That sort of thing. I’ve never been one for “serious” literature that addresses the miseries of modern life. Non-fiction, as well, is rarely on my reading docket. I prefer action…intrigue…humor. So when I started writing novels, that’s where I went. There are my three canine cozy mysteries, the first of which is noted below; and my historical mystery series. Under my real name, D. R. Martin, I wrote a ghost adventure trilogy. 


I wrote...

The Karma of King Harald

By Richard Audry,

Book cover of The Karma of King Harald

What is my book about?

When springtime arrives in New Bergen, so do the tourists and antiquers. This year, though, there are some unwelcome visitors. Extortion. Arson. And murder.

After a desolating divorce, Andy Skyberg has gone home to New Bergen. All he wants is a decent job and a loyal dog. But fate has something else in store, when his big mutt King Harald starts sniffing out murder and mayhem. It then falls to Andy to channel his inner sleuth and make sense of it all. Throw into this mix one legendary (but lost) ebelskiver recipe…a gimlet-eyed church lady…a van full of federal agents…a crusty old socialist…and a beloved iguana—and you have all the fixins for The Karma of King Harald.

Free Speech

By Jacob Mchangama,

Book cover of Free Speech: A History from Socrates to Social Media

Jacob is the founder and executive director of Justitia, a Danish think-tank. He had the brilliant idea of organising and presenting a lengthy and probing podcast series, Clear and Present Danger: A History of Free Speech, and that is the basis of this book—written by himself but adopting and adapting the originally oral contributions of his many online guests. Of whom I was one of the first, since he chose to begin at the beginning with ‘Ancient (that is, Greek) Beginnings’. Rather than free speech being a danger to democracy, it has unique, universal, and enduring importance, as a liberating and equalising principle and force throughout history and around the world. But it also has costs. Was Socrates justly condemned? Jacob thinks not, but I tend to take the side of the majority of his judges.

Free Speech

By Jacob Mchangama,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Free Speech as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A global history of free speech, from the ancient world to today.

Hailed as the "first freedom," free speech is the bedrock of democracy. But it is a challenging principle, subject to erosion in times of upheaval. Today, in democracies and authoritarian states around the world, it is on the retreat.
In Free Speech, Jacob Mchangama traces the riveting legal, political, and cultural history of this idea. Through captivating stories of free speech's many defenders - from the ancient Athenian orator Demosthenes and the ninth-century freethinker al-Razi, to Mary Wollstonecraft, Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela and modern-day digital activists - Mchangama…


Who am I?

My Democracy book was the summation of my views to that date (2018) on the strengths and weaknesses of democracy as a political system, in both its ancient and its modern forms. I’d been an activist and advocate of democracy since my undergraduate days (at Oxford, in the late 1960s – interesting times!). As I was writing the book the world of democracy suddenly took unexpected, and to me undesirable turns, not least in the United States and my own U.K. An entire issue of an English-language Italian political-philosophy journal was devoted to the book in 2019, and in 2021 a Companion to the reception of Athenian democracy in subsequent epochs was dedicated to me.


I wrote...

Democracy: A Life

By Paul Cartledge,

Book cover of Democracy: A Life

What is my book about?

Democracy today, globally, is in crisis—both in the liberal democratic West and in the vast tracts of the globe where authoritarianism or dictatorship are the preferred modes. All democracies today are representative, not direct, and inclusive. The word democracy and the original forms of democracy were invented in Ancient Greece, together with the fundamental concepts of freedom to participate and freedom of political speech. But ancient democracies were direct and exclusive. What if anything can we learn from an accessible study of the ways ancient Greeks did democratic politics? What has immediately prompted me to choose this book and theme is, of course, the near-murder of Salman Rushdie, a victim of the frighteningly illiberal current that dominates especially in non- or anti-democratic cultures today.

Mi6

By Stephen Dorril,

Book cover of Mi6

Unlike the official history of the British Secret Intelligence Service (SIS), better known as MI6, by Keith Jeffery, this book is written without the censorship of the Service presenting the facts as the author, a journalist and academic, considers fit and proper to show. Very well written and covering a considerable period of time with many secret operations, it is a very good book which The Guardian described as ‘A remarkable achievement and an encyclopaedic post-war history which any student of the secret world should read.’

Mi6

By Stephen Dorril,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mi6 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The first comprehensive history of the UK government overseas intelligence service, MI6, by an acknowledged expert and author of the highly acclaimed Smear!

Epitomised in the public imagination by James Bond, MI6's svelte and glamorous image has been peeled away by Dorril's searching investigations to reveal a less savoury truth. Here is the story of MI6's recruitment operation after WW2 of former Nazis; anticommunist guerrilla campaigns in the Ukraine and the Baltic States; Operation Stalin which led to mass arrests and executions ordered by Stalin; the European terrorist network 'Gladio'; tunnels built in Vienna and Berlin known as operation 'Gold…


Who am I?

Boris B. Volodarsky is a former intelligence officer, captain of the GRU Spetsnaz, Russian special forces. With the first raising of the Iron Curtain, Boris legally left the Soviet Union with his family. After living in the West for over 30 years, he became a British academic writing books and other academic works on the subject he knew best of all – the history of intelligence. Dr. Volodarsky earned a history degree at the London School of Economics under Professor Sir Paul Preston defending his doctoral thesis there with flying colours. He is contributing articles to the leading newspapers and is often interviewed by television and radio channels in Britain and the USA.


I wrote...

Assassins: The KGB's Poison Factory Ten Years on

By Boris Volodarsky,

Book cover of Assassins: The KGB's Poison Factory Ten Years on

What is my book about?

This book is the second volume of my The KGB’s Poison Factory, first published in 2009 after the infamous poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko in London by radioactive Polonium-210. It had several reprints in both UK and the USA and was translated into other languages. I was one of the consultants to the British investigation carried out by SO-15 of the Metropolitan police. I also knew both Sasha Litvinenko and his patron, Boris Berezovsky, personally. In the new book I add ten new cases where it was proved without doubt that Russian agents poisoned Kremlin’s opponents in various parts of the world. It covers the time span of several decades.

Why this book is so special? First of all, it presents the Litvinenko case in an entirely new light showing many flaws of the investigation and the following inquest, which made wrong conclusions based on insufficient or manipulated evidence. Another chapter, ‘The Oligarch’, seeks to prove that Boris Berezovsky, a Russian business tycoon who had resided in London for 13 years, did not commit suicide, as the Thames Valley Police investigation wanted to demonstrate, but was murdered by Russian intelligence. My conclusion is supported by Professor Bern Brinkmann, an internationally renowned medico-legal expert and forensic scientist who was employed by members of Berezovsky’s family. Other cases include the murder of the Soviet defector Nikolai Artamonov in Vienna, the poisoning of Sergey Skripal and his daughter in Salisbury, and so on, all presented differently from what one can read in popular media.

Warlight

By Michael Ondaatje,

Book cover of Warlight

Since my own novel is set partly in post-war England, I was drawn to Ondaatje’s Warlight, which begins in 1945 London as the city is recovering from brutal bombing. Another hook for me was the youthful characters; my book is also populated with war-confused children. Ondaatje’s narrator, 14-year-old Nathaniel, recalls his youth with the benefit of adult wisdom. He and his sister Rachel are abandoned by their parents to the care of some eccentric and slightly dangerous characters. Their teen years are marked by many mysterious events and experiences, only beginning to clarify in retrospect. Do we ever know what’s really happening?

Warlight

By Michael Ondaatje,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Warlight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

**LONGLISTED FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE 2018**

An elegiac novel set in post-WW2 London about memory, family secrets and lies, from the internationally acclaimed author of The English Patient

It is 1945, and London is still reeling from the Blitz. 14-year-old Nathaniel and his sister, Rachel, are apparently abandoned by their parents, left in the care of an enigmatic figure named The Moth. They suspect he might be a criminal, and grow both more convinced and less concerned as they get to know his eccentric crew of friends: men and women all who seem determined to protect Rachel and Nathaniel.…


Who am I?

The writing of Mad Hatter (my 7th book), was fueled by curiosity about WW2 and about my absent father. I emigrated to Canada as a young woman and pursued a career in the Arts – theatre, painting, writing. But only when I embarked on this fictionalized family story did I begin to uncover shocking family secrets as I pulled together threads of childhood memory, woven in with research material, trying to make sense of it all. Writing has literally saved my life, and Mad Hatter has liberated me in a manner I could never have predicted. I am an intense, passionate workaholic, writing in many genres, exulting in life's surprises!


I wrote...

Mad Hatter, Volume 164

By Amanda Hale,

Book cover of Mad Hatter, Volume 164

What is my book about?

Mad Hatter is a WW2 novel, based on the story of my own father’s internment as a member of Oswald Mosley’s British Union of Fascists. During Christopher Brooke’s absence, his family manages with the help of Maire Byrne, a young girl fresh from Ireland who works for Cynthia Brooke as nanny to her four young children, bringing love and levity into their childhood. Upon Christopher’s release there is a gradual unravelling of the marriage in the devastation of post-war England. As the story of the Brooke family moves inexorably to a tragic conclusion, a series of mysterious events unfold in which Maire Byrne is once again embraced by the family, but in a most surprising manner.

Fahrenheit 451

By Ray Bradbury,

Book cover of Fahrenheit 451

Fahrenheit 451 is the best dystopian novel of the 1950s in which firemen work as enforcers burning books rather than putting out fires because a societal mob claims that the world’s unhappiness and discord are the result of ideas expressed in books. A woke mob that prefers to watch tv rather than read books has determined what is wrong with each book. Blacks are offended by Little Black Sambo so it must be burned. Whites are offended by Uncle Tom’s Cabin so it must be burned. Cigarette companies burn books that portray cigarette smoking as dangerous. There’s bound to be something offensive in every book, so every book is burned. A fireman named Guy Montag decides to fight back. Bradbury’s imaginative work is still fresh today.

Fahrenheit 451

By Ray Bradbury,

Why should I read it?

10 authors picked Fahrenheit 451 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The hauntingly prophetic classic novel set in a not-too-distant future where books are burned by a special task force of firemen.

Over 1 million copies sold in the UK.

Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books.

The classic…


Who am I?

I'm a member of the Science Fiction Writers of America, and I've been nominated for three Hugo Awards for my writing. I’ve written SF and mystery novels most of my life, and the total number of my books is 20. I've also taught creative writing at the college and university levels for 18 years, and several of my students have published out of my creative writing courses. I've also volunteered in the past to assist with the Writers of the Future contest. I was featured as a SF author in the documentary Finding the Future. I've appeared on television, notably the Sci-Fi Channel, spoken on the radio, and at science fiction conferences.


I wrote...

Murder on Air Force One

By John L. Flynn,

Book cover of Murder on Air Force One

What is my book about?

When Inspector Kate Dawson, a homicide detective with the SFPD, is called, little did she know what would be waiting for her at San Francisco International Airport. Air Force One has landed with a corpse in the lavatory; the victim is a beautiful Fox News reporter, known as the "fair and balanced" girl. Apparently, she enjoyed kinky foreplay, but it just went too far...or did someone purposely murder her? Madame President, First Man, a senator, several Pentagon generals, secret service, and a slew of reporters were all aboard. Dawson's only clue: a lipstick container, which contains microfilm dating back to 1947, the crash at Roswell, the Truman letter, the MJ-12, the military-industrial complex, and a shadow government hiding the greatest secret of the Cold War era.

Lars Porsena

By Robert Graves,

Book cover of Lars Porsena: On the Future of Swearing

No one has ever heard of this book, but it is hilarious! Written by the inimitable poet, critic, author, and wit Robert Graves, it is a rumination on the future of swearing and improper language. Graves had a wonderful ability to talk about things of the utmost gravity in a way that, while not displacing their significance, allowed us to laugh about them. His were, as someone once said, “jests too deep for laughter”. Perhaps at no time in history was such a capability more culturally appropriate and important than during the First World War. Swearing bursts onto the mainstream in this era because, as Graves puts it in Lars Porsena with typical wry insouciance, “Silence under suffering is usually impossible.”

Lars Porsena

By Robert Graves,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Lars Porsena as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Equal parts history and absurdity, this tongue-in-cheek treatise laments the decline of swearing and foul language in England and looks back with nostalgia at the glory days of oaths and blasphemies. Written when censorship in England was still in full sway, this was an impassionate defense of the foul-mouthed in literature and a resounding attack of hypocrisy and Puritanism.


Who am I?

Joy Porter is an Irish writer who grew up in war (The Troubles). She is intrigued by how we relate to one another culturally and by what makes peace and conflict happen. She researches Indigenous, environmental, and diplomatic themes in an interdisciplinary context and co-leads the Treatied Spaces Research Group at The University of Hull. U.K. Fascinated by the mind, by what makes us love, persevere, transcend and escape the legacies of conflict, her work exposes how culture impacts the world.


I wrote...

Trauma, Primitivism and the First World War: The Making of Frank Prewett

By Joy Porter,

Book cover of Trauma, Primitivism and the First World War: The Making of Frank Prewett

What is my book about?

This book examines the extraordinary life of Frank “Toronto” Prewett and the history of trauma, literary expression, and the power of self-representation after WWI. Joy Porter sheds new light on how the First World War affected the Canadian poet, and how war-induced trauma or “shell-shock” caused him to pretend to be an Indigenous North American. It investigates his influence upon, and acceptance by, some of the most significant literary figures of the time, including Siegfried Sassoon, Edmund Blunden, Wilfred Owen, and Robert Graves.

In doing so, it skilfully connects a number of historiographies that usually exist in isolation and rarely meet. By bringing together a history of the WWI era, early twentieth-century history, Indigenous history, the history of literature, and the history of class, it crafts an exceptional and fresh contribution to the field.

The Important Thing about Margaret Wise Brown

By Mac Barnett, Sarah Jacoby (illustrator),

Book cover of The Important Thing about Margaret Wise Brown

I love this subversive, touching, and weird picture book biography about the author of Goodnight, Moon (and more than 100 other books). In 42 pages, Mac has managed to question the whole concept of biography and traditional notions about what children’s books (and all books) should be like—both sentiments reflected in Margaret life and work—while at the same time providing a perfect portrait of the aspects of the author’s life most relevant to her writing, and probing questions of censorship and tastemaking. Among other things, Mac shows young creators how to live in a celebratory manner even if the world seems to have turned its back on their work. He does all this while keeping the reader curious (there’s tension!), engaged (there’s storytelling!), and happy (it’s funny!)—but not too happy (the ending is tragic and philosophical!). This might be my favorite picture book biography of all time.

The Important Thing about Margaret Wise Brown

By Mac Barnett, Sarah Jacoby (illustrator),

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Important Thing about Margaret Wise Brown as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

An exceptional picture book biography of Margaret Wise Brown, the legendary author of Goodnight Moon, The Runaway Bunny, and other beloved children's classics, that's as groundbreaking as the icon herself was-from award-winning, bestselling author Mac Barnett and acclaimed illustrator Sarah Jacoby.

What is important about Margaret Wise Brown?

In forty-two inspired pages, this biography artfully plays with form and language to vivdly bring to life one of greatest children's book creators who ever lived: Margaret Wise Brown.

Illustrated with sumptuous art by rising star Sarah Jacoby, this is essential reading for book lovers of every age.


Who am I?

I am an award-winning author who grew up in a family of painters, poets, sculptors, and novelists; people who designed their lives around, and dedicated their lives to, artistic expression. I knew I wanted to be a writer at age three when I began dictating a poem every day to my mom. I first fell in love with Jane Austen as a student at Oxford, where I read my favorite of her novels, Persuasion.


I wrote...

A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice

By Jasmine A. Stirling, Vesper Stamper (illustrator),

Book cover of A Most Clever Girl: How Jane Austen Discovered Her Voice

What is my book about?

A Most Clever Girl tells the story of the world’s most beloved novelist, Jane Austen, and how she found her singularly witty, mischievous, and rebellious voice as a writer, despite losses that left her financially devastated, emotionally adrift, and unable to write for nearly a decade. 

I wrote this book to help my children, and all children, better understand the creative process—its fits and starts, its moments of exhilaration and frustration, and how it must be nurtured and tended to fully develop. I also enjoyed debunking the image of Jane as a dull spinster. Quite the contrary—Jane was a savage wit and proud rebel, who didn’t hesitate to put mighty men in their place with a few well-placed words. The book’s illustrator, also a devoted Janeite, visited all of the locations in the manuscript to create the artwork, which is lush and pitch perfect, making this book heirloom quality.

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