Every year on November 1, millions of people celebrate authors and the books that they write on National Author’s Day.
Books have a mind of their own. They take time to develop, research, draft, edit, revise, and rewrite. The stories we devour and indulge in as we drift off to sleep, travel, or allow to collect dust on several flat surfaces in our homes may take years to reach a publisher. We may have only one favorite author or many collected works with which we cannot part. Whether we prefer fiction, non-fiction, or a mix of both, authors have been telling stories to fill our heads for thousands of years.
Authors keep a record of history through their stories. They mark time through their observations of history. Their tales create remarkable memories of place, sealing it between the pages of the binding. Their books allow us to keep coming back to visit again and again.
After her grandmother’s death in 1968, Sue Cole promoted the observance of National Authors Day. She urged people to write a note to their favorite author on November 1, to “brighten up the sometimes lonely business of being a writer.” She also suggested flying the American flag as another way of showing appreciation for the writers who have created American literature.
The History of Author’s Day
In 1928, Nellie Verne Burt McPherson, president of the Bement, Illinois Women’s Club, had an idea of setting aside a day to celebrate American authors. McPherson was a teacher, and throughout her life, an avid reader. While she was recuperating in the hospital during World War I, she wrote a fan letter to fiction writer, Irving Bacheller. She told him how much she enjoyed reading his story Eben Holden’s Last Day A’ Fishin.
Upon receiving her letter, Bacheller sent her an autographed copy of another story. It was then that McPherson realized she would never be able to thank him adequately for his gift. McPherson decided to show her appreciation by submitting an idea for a National Author’s Day to the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. In May of 1929, the club endorsed a resolution for National Author’s Day to be observed honoring American writers. The United States Department of Commerce recognized this day in 1949.