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Category: Writers

Book opened to two pages, showing woodcut of author on the left and title page on the right.

The First Children’s Picture Book Might Be This One

Posted by: Maria Peña

One of the first picture books for children was "Orbis Sensualium Pictus" ("Visible World in Pictures"), published by Johann Amos Comenius in 1658. Born in the present-day Czech republic, Comenius was a theologian and education reformer who believed in teaching children from a Christian perspective. His book, with 150 woodcut images, was popular across Europe for centuries. The Library has a 1664 edition published in London.

Full page color illustration of a large snake in between a man and woman in 19th century dress.

Hans Christian Andersen’s Wild Scrapbooks

Posted by: Mark Hartsell

Hans Christian Andersen created wrote timeless fairy tales ("The Little Mermaid," "The Ugly Duckling") but also created handmade picture books as gifts for children of a few acquaintances.The Library holds one of them, assembled by Andersen and his friend Adolph Drewsen in 1862 for Drewsen’s 8-year-old grandson, Jonas. The picture book is part of a collection of first editions, manuscripts, letters and presentation copies gathered over a 30-year span by Danish actor Jean Hersholt — probably the most comprehensive collection of Andersen material in America.

Against a black background, an illustration of an elegantly dressed woman, in 1920s-style attire, stands with her right arm cocked on her hip and her left holds a long cigarette holder. Her eyes are closed, and her face is turned away from the viewer.

New! “The ‘Canary’ Murder Case” from Library’s Crime Classics Series

Posted by: Neely Tucker

“The ‘Canary’ Murder Case,” by S. S. Van Dine, is the latest in the Library’s Crime Classics series. The publication gives readers a new look at an influential 1927 detective novel featuring the urbane detective Philo Vance.

Black and white studio portait of Louise Glück. She is seated in a chair, leaning slightly to the photo's right, her left hand cupping her chin, gazing intently at the camera.

Louise Glück, Nobel Prize Winner, Former U.S. Poet Laureate, Dies at 80

Posted by: Neely Tucker

Louise Glück, the poet whose often personal, always searching work won the Nobel Prize in 2020 and who served as the U.S. poet laureate for the Library in 2003-2004, has died at the age of 80. Here, we remember a night at the LIbrary in the spring of 1975, when she was a nervous young poet reading her work in an event at the Coolidge Auditorium.

Embossed typsecript in gold and blue, with Hebraic writing alongside it.

Hundreds of Hebrew Manuscripts Now Online

Posted by: Maria Peña

The Library recently put online some 230 histortic manuscripts, some of them more than a thousand years old, in Hebrew and similar languages, such as Judeo-Arabic, Judeo-Persian and Yiddish. The collection, available online for researchers and the public for the first time, includes a 14th-century collection of responsa, or rabbinic decisions and commentary, by Solomon ibn Adret of Barcelona, considered one of the most prominent authorities on Jewish law.

A laughing Jimmy Buffett, wearing a baseball cap and facing the camera.

Fair Winds and Following Seas to You, Jimmy Buffett

Posted by: Neely Tucker

Jimmy Buffett, whose iconic "Margaritaville" was inducted into the National Recording Registry this year, died yesterday at age 76. We interviewed him in March for the NRR. Here, we remember that conversation, his story of writing the song, his performance at the Library in 2008 and how his songs inspired the author long ago, even before Buffett was a star.

Carla Hayden, at left, hands a crystal trophy to George Saunders, at right.

George Saunders Accepts the Library’s Prize for American Fiction

Posted by: Neely Tucker

Novelist, short-story writer and essayist George Saunders was awarded the Library of Congress Prize for American Fiction Saturday evening in one of the final sessions of the 2023 National Book Festival, conferring a lifetime honor on a versatile writer whose most famous book cast one of Washington's most famous residents in a surreal light. Saunders' 2017 novel "Lincoln in the Bardo" took a fantastical look at the visit President Abraham Lincoln paid to his young son's tomb in a Georgetown cemetery one night in 1862.

A brightly colored mosaic of geometric shapes with "National Book Festival" written in black type over the them.

National Book Festival This Saturday!

Posted by: Wendi Maloney

The Libarary's 2023 National Book Festival on August 12 features a stunning array literary stars including Amor Towls, Beverly Gage, Victor Lavelle, Elizabeth Acevedo, Rebecca Makkai, David Grann, S.A. Crosby, Cheuk Kwan and Tahir Hamut Izgil. Librarian of Congress will present the Prize for American Fiction to novelist George Saunders at day's end.