Discover New York - Literature

Books about New York City

This link to Sparknotes shows the results of a search for books which have the term "New York City". You will find over 400 books involving, to some extent, New York City. Along with the list you will find study guides to help you with your reading. If the full-text of a book is available online there will be a link to it along side the study notes. Most of the books listed in Sparknotes can be found by searching the St. John's Library Catalog. Books can be sent between the Queens and Staten Island campus libraries. Ask at the Circulation Desks.

Literary Organizations/Movements (a selected list)

Algonquin Round Table
"The period that followed the end of World War I was one of gaiety and optimism, and it sparked a new era of creativity in American culture. Surely one of the most profound -- and outrageous -- influences on the times was the group of a dozen or so tastemakers who lunched together at New York City’s Algonquin Hotel. For more than a decade they met daily and came to be known as the Algonquin Round Table."

Harlem Renaissance
Harlem Renaissance (HR) is the name given to the period from the end of World War I and through the middle of the 1930s Depression, during which a group of African-American writers, centered in Harlem, produced a remarkable body of literature (poetry, fiction, drama, and essay), art and music.

Authors with Ties to New York City (a selected list)

Aleichem, Sholem (1859-1916)
Became known worldwide as the Yiddish humorist who wrote the stories upon which the musical "Fiddler on the Roof" is based. He died in The Bronx in 1916.

Auden. W.H. (Wystan Hugh) (1907-1973)
Divided most of the second half of his life between residences in New York City and Austria. He died in Vienna in 1973.

Baldwin, James (1924- )
and this site from PBS.
Born in New York City in Harlem.

Brown, Claude (1937- )
Manchild in the Promised Land, is a best selling autobiography about his youth in Harlem, New York.

Capote, Truman (1924-1984)
In his mid-teens, Capote was sent to New York to live with his mother and her new husband. One of his most popular works is, Breakfast at Tiffany's, made even more popular when it was made into a movie with Audry Hepburn.

Cather, Willa (1873-1947)
"New York University's Kimmel Center occupies the site of Cather's first residence at 60 Washington Square South."

Corso, Gregory (1930–2001)
Born on March 26, 1930 in New York. "As a writer in the 1950's and 60's, Corso became a key member of the Beat movement."

Crane, Stephen (1871-1900)
"Left college after two semesters and moved on to a bohemian life in New York City. There he wandered through slums, observing and developing a strong sympathy for the underclass of boozers and prostitutes that inhabited the Bowery.

Doctorow, E.L. (1931 - )
One of the country's leading novelists, grew up in the Bronx neighborhood near Mount Eden Avenue and the Grand Concourse on Eastburn Avenue in the 1930s.

Ellison, Ralph (1914-1994)
Author of the Invisible Man. "In 1936 he moved to New York City, met the novelist Richard Wright, and became associated with the Federal Writers' Project, publishing short stories and articles in such magazines as New Challenge and New Masses."

Emerson, Ralph Waldo (1803-1882)
Arguably the most influential American author of the nineteenth century. Spent a good deal of time on Staten Island visiting his brother, who was a Richmond County Judge.

Fitzgerald, F. Scott (1896-1940)
Fitzgerald lived and worked for a time in New York City. His most famous work, The Great Gatsby, is set in and around the city.

Freneau, Philip (1752-1832)
Was an assistant editor of a New York paper during the early years of the United States. His literary efforts were often secondary to his efforts in supporting the newly formed government.

Ginsberg, Allen (1926-1997)
In his later years he became a Distinguished Professor at Brooklyn College.

Gorey, Edward (1925-2000)
Author and illustrator lived for many years in NYC, and from 1957 through 1982, he is reputed to have attended every performance of the New York City Ballet.

Hughes, Langston (1902-1967)
"In his memory, his residence at 20 East 127th Street in Harlem, New York City, has been given landmark status by the New York City Preservation Commission, and East 127th Street was renamed "Langston Hughes Place."

Irving, Washington (1783-1859)
Born in New York City.

James, Henry (1843-1916)
Born in New York City.

Jones, LeRoi (Amiri Bakara) (1934- )
Founded the Black Repertory Theatre in Harlem in 1965.

Kerouac, Jack (1922-1969)
Author of On the Road lived for a time on Cross Bay Blvd in Ozone Park.

McCullers, Carson ( 1917-1967)
Author who moved to New York City in 1934 and enrolled in a creative writing course at Columbia University

Mailer, Norman (1923- )
In 1927 his family moved to the Eastern Parkway section of Brooklyn, where he attended P.S. 161 and Boys' High School.

Melville, Herman ( 1819-1891)
Author of Moby Dick; born in New York City.

Millay, Edna St. Vincent ( 1892-1950)
Selected Works
"...moved to New York's Greenwich Village, where she led a notoriously Bohemian life. She lived in a nine-foot-wide attic and wrote anything she could find an editor willing to accept."

Moore, Marianne (1887-1972)
Moved to New York in 1918 and became widely known for her literary works.

O'Neill, Eugene ( 1888-1953)
The only American playwright to win the Nobel Prize for literature, was born in a Broadway hotel room in New York City on October 16, 1888

Poe, Edgar Allan ( 1809-1849)
Already a noted literary critic, poet and author, he rented a small cottage in Fordham in 1846.

Rand, Ayn (1905-1982)
Author who lived in New York City from 1951 until her death in 1982.

Riis, Jacob (1849-1914)
Worked as a police reporter for the New York Tribune in 1877. In the 1880s his work gravitated towards reform and he worked with other New York reformers then crusading for better living conditions for the thousands of immigrants flocking to New York. See, How the Other Half Lives

Salinger, J.D. (1919- )
Author of Catcher in the Rye, Salinger was born in New York City.

Thomas, Piri (1928- )
Born Juan Pedro Tomas, of Puerto Rican and Cuban parents \ in New York City's Spanish Harlem.

Twain, Mark ( 1835-1910)
A great American writer lived in several New York City neighborhoods.

Wasserstein, Wendy (1950- )
Playwright who was born and raised in New York City. An interview

Wharton, Edith (1862-1937)
One of the major figures in American literary history she was born in New York City.

Whitman, Walt (1819-1892)
Attended public school in Brooklyn.

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