Poll of Pennsylvanians reveals James A. Michener as the commonwealth’s favorite author of all time

| 22 Aug 2023 | 02:23

Harper Lee, Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway ...

These iconic names are among the luminaries hailing from the United States. However, more locally, each state has produced their own homegrown authors who have left an indelible mark on literature with their diverse and significant contributions.

A survey of 3,000 respondents by StoicQuotes.com shed light on each state’s most cherished authors, revealing some intriguing outcomes. Living authors were not included in the survey.


While many might presume Harper Lee, famed for “To Kill a Mockingbird,” to be the state’s favored author, it was Helen Keller who garnered the majority of votes. Born in Tuscumbia in 1880, Keller’s youth was overshadowed by an illness rendering her blind and deaf. Yet, under Anne Sullivan’s unwavering mentorship, Keller transcended her adversities, evolving into a revered author and speaker. Throughout her journey, Keller held a profound affection for Alabama, often alluding to it as her treasured homeland.

New York

In a similar vein, despite F. Scott Fitzgerald penning “The Great Gatsby,” wasn’t New Yorkers’ top literary pick.

That honor belonged to James Baldwin, renowned for “Go Tell It on the Mountain.” This 1953 semi-autobiographical novel delves into intricate subjects like religion, race, and family dynamics, portraying the life of John Grimes, a young African American boy navigating his identity amidst a religious upbringing in Harlem.

New Hampshire

New Hampshire’s choice too was unexpected. J.D. Salinger, celebrated for “The Catcher in the Rye,” was surpassed by Grace Metalious.

Born in 1924, Metalious gained acclaim for “Peyton Place,” a 1956 novel that boldly tackled taboo topics, juxtaposing them against the backdrop of a seemingly quaint New Hampshire town.


James A. Michener emerged as Pennsylvania’s favorite author. The renowned American author shared a notable association with Pennsylvania.

Born on Feb. 3, 1907, Michener was raised Quaker by an adoptive mother in Doylestown. This formative period in his life profoundly influenced his writing, as his experiences in Pennsylvania shaped his perspectives on history, culture and the human condition.

Michener’s deep connection to the state is evident, taking a job teaching at The Hill School in Pottstown and later working as an English teacher at George School in Newtown.

He won the Pulitzer Prize for his first fiction, “Tales of the South Pacific.” The bestselling book was adapted into the popular musical and film, “South Pacific.” Michener’s bestselling novels included “The Source,” “Centennial,” “Texas,” “Hawaii” and “Chesapeake.”

Through his literature, James A. Michener not only celebrated the rich history of Pennsylvania but also left an indelible mark on American literature, capturing the essence of the places and people that influenced his life and craft.

Pennsylvanians’ second choice was John Updike, followed by Gertrude Stein.