Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804–1864) was born in Salem, Massachusetts, and made his ambition to be a writer while still a teenager. He graduated from Bowdoin College in Maine, where the poet Longfellow was also a student, and spent several years traveling in New England and writing short stories before his best known novel, The Scarlet Letter, was published in 1850. His writing was not at first financially rewarding, and he worked as measurer and surveyor in the Boston and Salem Custom Houses. In 1853 he was sent to Liverpool as American consul and then lived in Italy before returning to the United States in 1860, where he died in his sleep four years later.
Edgar Allan Poe (1809–1848) transformed the American literary landscape with his innovations in the short story genre and his haunting lyrical poetry, and he is credited with inventing American gothic horror and detective fiction.
Louisa May Alcott (1832–1888) was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania. Educated by her father until she was sixteen, she also studied under Henry David Thoreau, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Theodore Parker. A prolific writer, her most famous work was Little Women, a timeless American classic.
Mark Twain (1835–1910) was born Samuel L. Clemens in the town of Florida, Missouri. One of the most popular and influential authors our nation has ever produced, his keen wit and incisive satire earned him praise from both critics and peers. He has been called not only the greatest humorist of his age but also the father of American literature.
Ambrose Bierce (1842–ca. 1914) was an American journalist, short-story writer, and poet. Born in Ohio, he served in the Civil War and then settled in San Francisco. He wrote for Hearst’s Examiner, his wit and satire making him the literary dictator of the Pacific coast and strongly influencing many writers. He disappeared into war-torn Mexico in 1913.
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 about 1887, and his stories of adventure in the Southwest United States and in Central America were immediately popular with magazine readers.
Bronson Pinchot, an Audie Award–winning narrator and Audible’s Narrator of the Year for 2010, received his education at Yale University. He restores Greek Revival buildings and appears in television, film, and on stage whenever the pilasters and entablatures overwhelm him.
John Chancer is an award-winning narrator of numerous audiobooks. He has performed in theaters on both sides of the Atlantic. His television appearances have included Any Human Heart, Episodes, Spooks, The Long Firm, and William & Mary. His films include Casino Royale, Unstoppable, Grim, and Project: Shadowchaser.
Katherine Fenton’s theater credits include Twelfth Night and Much Ado about Nothing, while her television credits include appearances on Casualty and Servants. She has also provided voices for radio, animated cartoon series, and computer software CDs.
Wyn Davies is a stage, film, and television actor. Born in Britain and educated in Canada, he has worked in Britain, Canada, and the United States. His stage career began in Quebec City when he appeared in The Fantasticks, Red Emma,
and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. He went on to perform in many Shakespeare productions with various companies,
including London’s Centre Stage and the British Actors Theatre Company, and he has performed at several festivals, such as Ontario’s Stratford Shakespeare
Festival and the Atlantic Theatre Festival. His audiobook credits include Great American Suspense and Great Classic
Patrick Fraley has created voices for over four thousand characters, placing him among the top ten performers of all time to be cast in animated programs. He holds an MFA in acting from Cornell University and is the author of the only character-voice curriculum ever to be accredited at the university level.
Norman Dietz is a writer, voice-over artist, and audiobook narrator who was named one of the fifty “Best Voices of the Century” by AudioFile magazine. He and his late wife Sandra transformed an abandoned ice cream parlor into a playhouse, which served “the world’s best hot fudge sundaes” before and after performances. The founder of Theatre in the Works, he lives in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.