Lit in the Mitt Michigan authors explore the Great Lakes State through the written word

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When it comes to the power of stories, the great state of Michigan has a lot to say on the subject. We are home to not only many poems and novels, but to some well-known authors who are proud of their ties to the Mitten.

Here are a few Michigan born and bred authors who have written about their home state:

Christopher Wright – Pontiac

Wright, who uses the pseudonyms Christopher Knight and Johnathan Rand, is known for Michigan Chillers (all of which take place in different locations around Michigan) and American Chillers. Wright was born in Pontiac but has also lived in Grayling, Houghton Lake, Petoskey, Cheboygan and Topinabee.

Chris Van Allsburg – Grand Rapids

The children’s author and illustrator, known primarily for his works The Polar Express and Jumanji, is from East Grand Rapids, where The Polar Express begins and ends. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan.

Christopher Paul Curtis – Flint

Best known for his novels The Watsons Go To Birmingham – 1963 and Bud, Not Buddy, Curtis bases the plots for many of his stories, including these two, out of his hometown of Flint. He received his bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.

Gloria Whelan – Detroit

Known for writing for children and young adults, Whelan has lived in Detroit and Mancelona and received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Michigan. Many of her works take place on Mackinac Island and in the northern Michigan wilderness, such as A Clearing in the Forest, The Wanigan and the Once on this Island series.

Jim Harrison – Grayling

Born in Grayling, Harrison graduated from Haslett High School and received both his bachelor’s and his master’s degrees from Michigan State University. Many of his novels take place in the Upper Peninsula, including Wolf: A False Memoir, True North and Returning to Earth.

Judith Guest – Detroit

Born in Detroit, Guest graduated from Royal Oak High School and the University of Michigan. Her novel Ordinary People has ties to Lake Michigan and her most recent book, The Tarnished Eye, is loosely based on unsolved crime in Michigan.

Other well-known Michigan authors include Jeffrey Eugenides (The Virgin Suicides, Middlesex) and Thomas Roethke (Saginaw, UofM, MSU). Authors born elsewhere but have been greatly inspired by the state include Joyce Carol Oates (Detroit), Arthur Miller (Ann Arbor, UofM), Elmore Leonard (Detroit, Bloomfield Hills), Robert Frost (Ann Arbor, UofM), and Ernest Hemingway (Petoskey).