Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books That Feature Characters Who Write

Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme created by The Broke and the Bookish blog.

This week’s topic is: Ten Books That Feature Characters _______

I’ve decided to focus on Books That Feature Characters Who Write




I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith 

In the very first line of this charming modern classic, our narrator Cassandra Mortmain pronounces: “I write this sitting in the kitchen sink.” By “this” she means the entries she records in her notebooks, as she attempts to hone her writing skills by capturing her eccentric family’s life in a crumbling castle. Cassandra’s father is also a novelist who, after publishing one critically aclaimed novel, now suffers from years-long writer’s block.

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

When I think of Jo March, I picture her scribbling away in the garret at Orchard House. Jo used her writing as a way to entertain her family, as a means of earning some much-needed money, and as a way to channel her intense emotions. Spirited Jo once had big ambitions in regards to her writing-ambitions that shifted overtime as she married and opened a boy’s boarding school with Professor Bhaer. Even so, sometimes I can’t help but wish we had gotten the ending for Jo that Louisa May Alcott originally intended-one in which she became the independent writer she dreamt of becoming.

(And I still hold a bit of a grudge against Amy for burning that manuscript.)

The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield

At its heart, The Thirteenth Tale is about the stories we tell and the ones that we don’t. The famous and mysterious author Vida Winter has crafted countless stories of her life over the years. Now that she is dying, she decides it is finally time to tell the true story of her past and to divulge long-kept, tragic secrets. She turns to biographer Margaret Lea to record the truth, and together the  two writers bond over their love of books and begin to heal from their respective losses.

Atonement by Ian McEwan

Much of the plot of Atonement centers around the written word. When the novel opens, all young Briony wants is to successfully stage the play she has just finished painstakingly writing. After intercepting a grown-up letter meant for her older sister Cecilia, her writer’s imagination and her naïveté sets into motion the tragic events of the story. Years later, while she is working as a nurse in London during the war, Briony sneaks away after lights-out to write on her typewriter in the attic. And as an older, successful author, Briony attempts to atone for her past mistake through her writing.

Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding 

Bridget processes her crazy life as a “singleton” in London by writing in her red diary. Here, she makes lists of the types of men she should avoid, records her weight and alcohol consumption, complains about her work colleagues, confesses her daily embarrassments, and tries to sort out her own heart.




A Tale For the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki 

A Tale For the Time Being is a beautifully written, dual narrative story about a bullied Japanese teen girl and a Canadian author with writer’s block. Much of the novel focuses on the written word. Teenager Nao narrates her half of the story through her diary, written in a specially refurbished copy of Proust’s In Search of Lost Time. Author Ruth discovers this diary inside a Hello Kitty lunchbox after it washes up on the beach near her home. Unable to make progress on her own writing, Ruth becomes immersed in Nao’s. We lucky readers get to be transformed by both of their stories.

 The Muse by Jessie Burton 

Although a lot of the novel focuses on the art of painting, The Muse also highlights the art of writing. The narrator of the 1960’s sections is Odelle Bastien, an aspiring writer who is working as a typist at a prestigious London art gallery. Here, she is encouraged to pursue her writing career by her glamorous and mysterious mentor Marjorie Quick.

Miss Buncle’s Book by D.E. Stevenson

This is an utterly charming novel about a “spinster” who writes an anonymous, best-selling novel inspired by the very real figures in her small English village. Miss Barbara Buncle’s Silverstream neighbors are baffled by who the mysterious author known as “John Smith” could be, and how he or she could possibly know so much about their own lives. They are determined to discover the identity of this author who has forced them to really look at their own lives for the first time.

Sylvester by Georgette Heyer

This delightful Regency romance features a heroine who aspires to make a living through her writing. In fact, Miss Phoebe Marlow contrives to have her gothic novel anonymously published all while her family is trying to marry her off. Things become entertainingly complicated when Phoebe continues to cross paths with the Duke of Salford (ie. Sylvester), whose dark eyebrows and moody personality inspired the villain in her over-the-top novel. But Sylvester is not the villain of her imagination. In fact, he may be the very man with whom Phoebe could happily spend the rest of her life.

Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

In order to become a great writer one day, Harriet takes the advice of her nanny Golly. She closely observes her friends, classmates, and neighbors and records what she sees and hears. Her marble notebooks eventually wreak havoc on her young world when they fall into the wrong hands and she is ostracized by her peers. Harriet must learn how to stay true to herself without needlessly hurting others.  I remember making my own spy kit-complete with composition book and the latest toy spy gadgets-around the release of the Nickelodeon movie.


Do you have some favorite books that feature writers?


13 thoughts on “Top Ten Tuesday: Ten Books That Feature Characters Who Write

Add yours

  1. I really like your list! 🙂 Anne Shirley the Anne of Green Gables books by Lucy Maud Montgomery was a writer and so was Emily in the Emily books by the same author. David Copperfield by Charles Dickens was a writer.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Oh, great list. I think in the last book in the Little Women series, Professor Bhaer encourages Jo to return to her writing. So there’s hope there.

    Atonement, Bridget Jones, The Thirteenth Tale, and I Capture the Castle are all favorites of mine.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Atonement…nice choice. I probably would have forgotten Briony. Since you asked…and since I didn’t do the TTT this week, I’ll just mention a few more here: David Copperfield and Bilbo Baggins, but the most unusual novel I’ve read about a writer character is Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov. The character is the fictional poet John Shade. Marvelous, complex, metafiction tale.

    Liked by 1 person

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