Thursday, July 18, 2013

Authors Diagnosed with Dyslexia

Lots of famous people have been diagnosed with dyslexia: Steven Spielberg, Orlando Bloom, Henry Winkler, Guy Ritchier, Keanu Reeves, Pablo Picasso, John Lennon, Keira Knightley, Jay Leno, Bruce Jenner, Salma Hayek, Whoopi Goldberg, Albert Einstein, Leonardo da Vinci, Anderson Cooper, Cher, Tom Cruise, Lara Flynn Boyle, Alexander Graham Bell...

You might think being an author is an unusual career choice for someone with dyslexia. But Patricia Polacco - author of this week's review book, Rechenka's Eggs, and dozens of other children's books - was diagnosed with dyslexia, and she is not alone!

Louise Arnold
In 2003, the BBC wanted to find "the next J K Rowling," and they found Louise Arnold. They asked for the first paragraph of a children's book, and put the finalists to a public vote. When Arnold won, she got an agent and started writing the Grey Arthur series, which to date includes three books: Golden & Grey (An Unremarkable Boy and a Rather Remarkable Ghost) (in England, titled The Invisible Friend); Golden & Grey: The Nightmares that Ghosts Have; and Golden & Grey: A Good Day for Haunting.

Octavia Butler
Author of the Patternist series, Lilith's Brood series, and Parable series, along with many short stories and articles, Butler has won the Hugo and the Nebula, and is arguably the best-known female African-American science-fiction writer. She was the first sci-fi author to earn a MacArthur fellowship (aka the Genius Grant).

Lewis Carroll (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)
The famous creator of Alice (Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass and such) was diagnosed as dyslexic, which is simultaneously not surprising (have you read "The Jabberwocky"?) and very surprising (for a man so amazing at word play and a child who read difficult works so early in life).

Fannie Flagg (Patricia Neal)
Flagg wrote the novel Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe (which was adapted to the movie, Fried Green Tomatoes, for which she won an Academy Award) and she was also a regular on the show The Match Game. She has spoken about her dyslexia, saying that it's an ongoing problem, and that her writing was put on hold for most of the '70s because she was discouraged.

Jules Verne
French novelist Jules Verne is best known for Around the World in Eighty Days, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. He is the second most translated author in the world (following Agatha Christie) and is one of three authors referred to as the Father of Science Fiction (along with H. G. Wells and Hugo Gernsback). While he is considered a children's writer in most Anglophone regions, much of Europe considers him a major literary author.

So if you have been diagnosed with dyslexia or any other learning disorder, don't be discouraged! These people weren't! (Or they were, and then later they weren't. I'm a bad pep-talker.)


  1. I had no idea that Jules Verne was French. Now I feel dumb.

    1. Don't. There's so much I learn while doing research for this blog that I probably SHOULD have known, but didn't. :)