10 Manly Literary Figures

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Writing isn’t a very manly occupation. Society typically doesn’t associate literary figures with the same level of machismo as firefighters. For every Ernest Hemingway you have dozens of authors who live in one-bedroom apartments that are full of cats and write about nymphs, hobbits, and dragons.

10 Manly Literary Figures:

10. Shel Silverstein

Most Notable Works: “The Giving Tree,” “Where the Sidewalk Ends,” “A Light in the Attic”

Before Silverstein even wrote “The Giving Tree”, he was already nationally recognized as a cartoonist for Playboy, Look, and Sports Illustrated. Most people also don’t know that when he wasn’t drawing or writing children’s books, he split his time putting songs together for musicians including Johnny Cash, Loretta Lynn, and Willie Nelson.

9. Lord Byron

Most Notable Works: “Don Juan,” “Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage,” “She Walks in Beauty”

Lord Byron certainly knew how to live life to the fullest. When he was a student at Trinity College, he kept a bear as a pet in his dormitory because the school wouldn’t allow students to have dogs.

8. Mark Twain

Most Notable Works: “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer,” “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn”

Considered by many to be the father of American literature, he served as a steamboat captain, a confederate soldier, and a miner. His literary works have helped shape generations of young boys into powerful men.

7. Hunter S. Thompson

Most Notable Works: “Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas”

Thompson is widely considered more crazy than manly, you cannot discount his fearless brand of male bravado. Known as the ‘King of Gonzo journalism,’ he did after all ride with the Hell’s Angel long enough to survive and write a book about the encounter. And how did he begin this book assignment — by inviting a few bikers over and threatening them with a shotgun.

6. Ian Fleming

Most Notable Works: his James Bond series of spy novels

Before he was writing about James Bond, he was a spy for the British Naval Intelligence during World War II. To put it simply, Ian Fleming was an author who wrote a thinly-veined version of his own life.

5. Thomas Malory

Most Notable Works: “Le Morte d’Arthur”

In 1451, Malory left his seat in Parliament and lead a coup against the Duke of Buckingham. The Duke, hearing of Malory’s plans, organized an army to respond. Luckily for Malory, he slighted capture and, out of spite, decided to raid the Duke’s lodge and kill all his deer. Malory was eventually arrested, escaped, arrested again, pardoned, captured, escaped again, caught, pardoned, captured again, and finally died — for which the latter he was not able to escape.

4. Teddy Roosevelt

Most Notable Works: “The Strenuous Life,” “River of Doubt,” “The Rough Riders,” “The Naval War of 1812”

Yes, the same Roosevelt that was the 26th President of the United States. What many people don’t know is that he was also an author who wrote 18 books and was the editor of Outlook magazine. He was also an explorer, a cattle rancher, a Rough Rider, a war hero, a deputy sheriff, a police commissioner, a writer, and a champion boxer.

3. Christopher Marlowe

Most Notable Works: “Hero and Leander,” “Edward the Second,” “The Tragical History of Doctor Faustus”

Marlow’s maverick lifestyle was so secretive and mysterious in his personal life that it’s hard to tell fact from fiction. He was alleged to be a government spy, arrested for counterfeiting, and shortly after that arrested again for making some disapproving remarks about Jesus (which was a no-no in 1593). He was killed in a knife fight in a pub and many believe it was an assassination. How is that for an opening line to an obituary — Noteworthy English playwright, dynamic antihero, government spy, assassinated in a knife fight?

2. Miguel de Cervantes

Most Notable Works: “Don Quixote”

Before his literary career began, Cervantes enlisted in the Castilian infantry to battle the Ottoman Empire. While serving, he was shot three times — twice in the chest — and had to have his left arm amputated. After recovering, he went back into service and was captured by pirates and enslaved for five years. Cervantes was eventually ransomed, and not having anything else better to do, decided he’d write one of the greatest books ever written.

1. Ernest Hemingway

Most Notable Works: “The Old Man and the Sea,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” “A Farewell to Arms,” “The Sun Also Rises”

During WWI, Hemingway dragged an Italian soldier to safety despite having part of his leg shot off (and for his efforts he was awarded the Italian Silver Medal of Bravery). During the Spanish Civil War, he traveled to Spain and experienced combat as a reporter — just for grins-and-giggles. During WWII, when he wasn’t helping liberate Paris, he was destroying enemy submarines off the coast of Cuba. Death stood at Hemingway’s doorstep more than once — he survived multiple gunshots wounds, countless concussions, three car crashes, two plane crashes, a massive brushfire, and an anthrax infection. He once said, “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” Pretty manly words I’d say.

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