portraits of writers

Victor Hugo

Portrait of M. Victor Hugo (1879) by Léon Bonnat. Click for hi-def image. (Via)

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George Orwell colorized

Colorized by Edvos. Date and photographer unknown. (Via Colorized History.)

Graham Greene by Yousuf Karsh

Karsh portrait of Graham Greene

Graham Greene, 1964. Portrait by Yousuf Karsh.


James Joyce

James Joyce. Scratchboard portrait by Mark Summers, whose work you will recognize from Barnes & Noble shopping bags, among other places.

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The Master

Henry James

Henry James, age 63
Rye, England, 1906
Photogravure by Alvin Langdon Coburn, 1882-1966

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Miller & Monroe, 1957

Monroe and Miller by Avedon (1957)

Marilyn Monroe and Arthur Miller, 1957, by Richard Avedon.

Note to my sons: once upon a time it was very, very cool to be a writer.



John Steinbeck

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Hemingway in Paris, 1923

Hemingway by Man Ray 1923

Photo by Man Ray. (Centre Pompidou.)

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Salinger, 1952

J.D. Salinger 1952

J.D. Salinger, 1952. (via WSJ)

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Hemingway’s standing desk


“Ernest Hemingway at his standing writing desk on the balcony of Bill Davis’s home near Malaga where he wrote The Dangerous Summer.” — Life Magazine, Jan. 1, 1960

I’ve wanted a standing desk like this for a long time. (Philip Roth uses one, too.)

Hemingway, 1918

Hemingway in Milan 1918

Ernest Hemingway, American Red Cross volunteer, 18 or 19 years old, in Milan, 1918.

Photo credit: Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston. Portrait by Ermeni Studios, Milan, Italy. (Via.)

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Henry James, age 57

Henry James, ca 1900

Henry James, ca. 1900, age 57. From the collection of the George Eastman House on Flickr.

Not many photos of James exist, and none are as revealing as this. The most recognized image we have of “the master” is the iconic John Singer Sargent portrait of 1913, which shows James as the Great Man. And that is how I always pictured him — aloof, fusty, royal — until I stumbled across this amazing picture. Here James looks haunted and weary, as I imagine he must have been. A great man, of course, but still an artist who struggled, like the rest of us.

Categories: Photography · Writers    Tags: ·

Portrait: Philip Roth


Philip Roth at his home in rural Connecticut, 2004. (Via.) Photo by James Nachtwey. More about Roth’s work habits here.

Flickr Find of the Day

Arthur Conan Doyle

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, from the Library of Congress Flickr photo stream. The photo apparently dates from 1913 or thereabouts. I always imagined Conan Doyle as a less modern, more Victorian character than this — more like Holmes.

Flickr has lots of wonderful vintage images like this one, not all book-related obviously. I recommend the streams of the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, and the George Eastman House for starters, but there are lots more. If you find any needles buried in those haystacks, do let me know.