National Day on Writing

From novelists to journalists, poets to playwrights, Hamilton alumni have pursued successful careers as writers, some earning national and international acclaim.

Samuel Hopkins Adams, Class of 1891 Samuel Hopkins Adams

Class of 1891

Samuel Hopkins Adams began his career as an editor and journalist whose exposé of patent medicines helped lead to the passage of the Pure Food and Drug Act. He later published more than 40 books and countless short stories, including “Night Bus,” which became one of the finest film comedies of all time when translated to the screen as It Happened One Night. His most enduring works are those focused on the history and folklore of New York State, among them Canal Town, Banner by the Wayside and Grand father Stories.

Stephanie Abarbanel K'73 Stephanie Abarbanel

Class of 1973 (Kirkland)

Formerly senior articles editor at Women’s Day, Stephanie Abarbanel is currently ghostwriting and editing books. In 1991, Family Circle won a National Magazine Award in the public interest for an article she wrote, “Toxic Nightmare on Main Street,” an investigative report on toxic contamination in Jacksonville, Ark.

Henry Allen '63

Henry Allen

Class of 1963

Henry Allen, former feature writer and editor at The Washington Post, received a 2000 Pulitzer Prize for Criticism for “his fresh and authoritative writing on photography.” Allen covered the White House and Capitol Hill for the New York News before joining the Post’s Style section. A writer of essays, fiction and poetry, he earned praise for his book What It Felt Like: Living in the American Century, which captured the social and cultural spirit of the 20th century.

Terry Brooks '66

Terry Brooks

Class of 1966

A writer since the age of 10, Terry Brooks became inspired to try writing fantasy during his student days at Hamilton when he was given a copy of The Lord of the Rings. In 1977, his first novel, The Sword of Shannara, became the first work of fiction ever to appear on The New York Times trade paperback bestseller list. The author of 25 bestselling novels, including the “Shannara” and “Magic Kingdom of Landover” series and “The Word & Void” trilogy, he has also written novel adaptations of the films Hook and Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace as well as a memoir on his writing life, Sometimes the Magic Works.

Peter Cameron

Class of 1982

Peter Cameron sold his first story to The New Yorker a year after he graduated from Hamilton. The author of several novels and collections of short stories, he has earned praise for his elegant prose and developing characters with “painterly precision.” Cameron’s collection of short stories One Way or Another received a special citation by the PEN/Hemingway Award for First Book of Fiction, and The City of Your Final Destination was a finalist for the 2003 PEN/Faulkner Prize. His novels The Weekend, The City of Your Final Destination and Someday This Pain Will Be Useful to You have been adapted for the screen. His latest novel, Coral Glynn, was published in 2012. His work has been translated into a dozen languages.

Carl Carmer

Class of 1914

Regional historian, folklorist and novelist, Carl Carmer began his career as a poet, but soon switched to folklore in Stars Fell on Alabama, a Literary Guild selection. He wrote extensively on New York State, including Listen for a Lonesome Drum and Dark Trees to the Wind. Editor of the “Rivers of America” series, he contributed to volumes on The Hudson and The Susquehanna. He also collected and edited folk songs and stories, and wrote numerous children’s books, usually with historical themes. A prominent member of the “Hamilton School” of New York history and folklore, Carmer made a lasting contribution to the state’s literary and cultural heritage.

Judith Crown

Class of 1974 (Kirkland)

Judy Crown served as a senior correspondent for Business Week. A former managing editor and reporter for the weekly Crain’s Chicago Business and business reporter for the Houston Chronicle, her work has appeared in Chicago magazine, the Chicago Tribune and other publications. Winner of several awards for journalism, Crown co-authored No-Hands: The Rise and Fall of the Schwinn Bicycle Co., an American Institution.

Nat Faxon '97Nathaniel Faxon

Class of 1997

Nathaniel "Nat" Faxon is an actor and screenwriter who won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay for co-writing The Descendants (2011). He has starred in comedic television and films roles, including the FOX series Ben and Kate (2012-13). Most recently Faxon co-wrote and co-directed The Way, Way Back, which earned high praise at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. He currently stars in the FX comedy Married, which premiered in 2014.

Amanda Filipacchi

Class of 1988

Described by The New York Times Book Review as a “lovely comic surrealist,” Amanda Filipacchi is the author of several novels including Nude Men, Vapor and Love Creeps, which was selected by The Village Voice as one of the top 25 books of 2005. Her latest novel is The Unfortunate Importance of Beauty. Her work has appeared in anthologies including Simon & Schuster’s The Best American Humor.

Harry Kondoleon

Class of 1977

Winner of the Wallace Bradley Johnson playwriting prize during each of his four years at Hamilton, Harry Kondoleon went on to earn accolades while at the Yale Drama School and later received the 1983 Obie as Off-Broadway’s “most promising young playwright.” He earned a second Obie for his play The Houseguests, written in 1993. The author of two novels and 17 plays, including The Vampires, Christmas on Mars and Anteroom, he dedicated his final works to the portrayal of the devastation of AIDS.

Stephen Krensky

Class of 1975

Steve Krensky is the author of more than 100 fiction and non-fiction books for children, including The Dragon Circle, Lionel at Large, Big Bad Wolves at School, Benjamin Franklin and How Santa Got His Job, an American Library Association Notable Book. His books range from picture books to novels, fantasy to realism, poetry to folklore. He has also adapted material from other media, including numerous short chapter books from episodes of the popular “Arthur” television show.

Christine Laine '83Christine Laine

Class of 1983

Christine Laine became the youngest editor of the Annals of Internal Medicine, the flagship journal of the American College of Physicians, in 2009. A practicing physician, she holds leadership positions on the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors, the Council of Science Editors and the ethics committee of the World Association of Medical Editors.

Paul Lieberstein

Class of 1989

A screenwriter and producer, Paul Lieberstein has written for numerous television series, including King of the Hill, The Drew Carey Show and The Office. His work on The Office, which also marked his acting debut as human resources director Toby Flenderson, earned him a 2006 Emmy Award for “Outstanding Comedy Series” and a Writers Guild of America Award.

Sarah Maas '08Sarah Maas

Class of 2008

Sarah Maas is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the young-adult Throne of Glass series, which includes Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, Heir of Fire and Queen of Shadows as well as the series prequel, The Assassin’s Blade.  She wrote the first incarnation of the Throne of Glass series when she was just 16, and it has now sold in 23 languages.

Stryker McGuire

Class of 1969

Currently senior editor at Bloomberg Markets, Stryker McGuire served for more than a decade as the London bureau chief for Newsweek where he wrote on numerous political, economic, cultural and social developments. His coverage of immigration issues earned the Best Foreign Reporting Award from the Foreign Press Association in London in 2000. Later a contributing editor at Newsweek and editor of the world affairs journal International Quarterly, he is author of Streets With No Names: A Journey into Central and South America.

Thomas Meehan

Class of 1951

Tony Award-winning writer Tom Meehan penned the books for such Broadway blockbusters as Annie, The Producers, Hairspray and Young Frankenstein. Meehan’s flair for humor became apparent early in his career when he contributed satirical pieces and parodies while on staff at The New Yorker. Later, he took home an Emmy Award for television skit-writing. Often collaborating with actor/director Mel Brooks, the duo wrote the hit films Spaceballs and To Be or Not to Be.

Peter Meinke

Class of 1955

Peter Meinke, a prizewinning poet and shortstory writer, mixes humor with the serious concerns of everyday life. His works range from The Legend of Larry the Lizard and Very Seldom Animals, consisting of rhymes for a child’s delight, to The Piano Tuner, a collection of short stories that garnered the Flannery O’Conner Award. His books of poetry include seven in the prestigious Pitt Poetry Series, the most recent being The Contracted World. The director of the writing workshop at Eckerd College for nearly three decades, his work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Atlantic, Poetry and scores of other journals.

Richard Nelson

Class of 1972

One of the nation’s most prolific playwrights, Richard Nelson wrote the book for the musical James Joyce’s The Dead, which earned him a Tony Award in 2000. Among his other works are Franny’s Way (Drama Desk Award nominee), Goodnight Children Everywhere (OlivierAward), Two Shakespearean Actors (Tony Award nominee), Some Americans Abroad (Olivier Award nominee) and Principia Scriptoriae (London Time Out Award). Nelson also won the 2008 PEN/Laura Pels Master Playwright Award and a 2008 Academy Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, both for his career. He is an honorary artistic associate of the Royal Shakespeare Company, which has produced 10 of his plays.

John Nichols

Class of 1962

John Nichols’ first novel, The Sterile Cuckoo, was written shortly after he left Hamilton and largely reflected his undergraduate experiences. Published when he was 24, it was soon made into a Hollywood movie filmed in part on campus. His later novels have dealt with more serious social themes and include The Milagro Beanfield War, The Magic Journey and Nirvana Blues. Well-received by critics who admire his versatility of prose, Nichols has also written several works of nonfiction, composed photo essays on the Southwest and worked on scripts for films, among them Costa Gravas’ Missing.

Ezra Pound

Class of 1905

Atowering figure in 20thcentury literature, Ezra Pound ranks with Yeats and Eliot as a pioneer of the modernist movement. In poetic achievement as great as his life was controversial, he not only broke new ground with Hugh Selwyn Mauberley and The Cantos, but he also helped to promote the works of other writers, then little-known, including James Joyce, Robert Frost and Ernest Hemingway. In later years, as a fascist sympathizer who was nearly tried for treason, Pound the personality largely overshadowed Pound the poet, essayist and critic. However, his influence on the course of English letters remains of historical magnitude.

Preeta Samarasan

Class of 1998

Set in her native Malaysia, Preeta Samarasan’s first novel, Evening Is the Whole Day, earned the Avery and Jule Hopwood Novel Award and was described by one reviewer as “exuberantly lyrical and masterfully constructed.” A former Writing Center student tutor, Samarasan has published her short fiction and nonfiction in Hyphen, the Michigan Quarterly Review, EGO Magazine, A Public Space and in the anthology Urban Odysseys: KL Stories.

Barrett Seaman

Class of 1967

Barry Seaman served as a correspondent for Time magazine from five bureaus in the United States and abroad, including stints as senior White House correspondent during the Reagan administration and special projects editor. He coauthored a book about the Chrysler bailout, Going For Broke: The Chrysler Story, and wrote Binge: What Your College Student Won’t Tell You, a report on student life at America’s colleges and universities based on information he gathered over two years living on 12 campuses across the country, including Hamilton.

Kamila Shamsie

Class of 1994

Kamila Shamsie has achieved international acclaim for her novels, the first of which evolved from a short story she wrote originally for a class at Hamilton. Three of her novels — In the City by the Sea, Kartography and Broken Verses — have won awards from the Academy of Letters in her native Pakistan, and she has twice been shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize in Britain. Her latest novel, A God in Every Stone, was shortlisted for the 2015 Walter Scott Prize. In addition to writing fiction, she frequently contributes to newspapers in South Asia, the U.S. and U.K., including The Guardian, DAWN and The New York Times. 

Henry Wheeler Shaw

Class of 1837

Better known by the pen name Josh Billings, Henry Wheeler Shaw was one of America’s leading humorists. His numerous works, such as Josh Billings: His Sayings, Complete Comical Writings and the annual Josh Billings’ Farmer’s Allminax, were bestsellers in the years after the Civil War. Containing homespun aphorisms and cracker-barrel philosophy garbed in a somewhat grotesque vernacular, they were sufficiently universal in appeal to be pirated extensively in England. The people’s moralist, he was occasionally hailed as “Yankee La Rochefoucauld.”

Evan Smith

Class of 1987

Evan Smith is CEO and editor-in-chief of The Texas Tribune. Previously, as president and editor of Texas Monthly, Evan Smith earned 16 nominations for the National Magazine Award, the magazine industry’s equivalent of the Pulitzer Prize. Formerly deputy editor at The New Republic, Smith has written for GQ, The Oprah Magazine and other national periodicals. He hosts a weekly interview program, Texas Monthly Talks, that airs on PBS stations throughout Texas.

Jim WillsieJames Willse

Class of 1967

James Willse served for 15 years as editor of The Newark (N.J.) Star-Ledger, during which time the paper earned two Pulitzer Prizes for breaking news reporting. He previously was editor of The New York Daily News and managing editor of The San Francisco Examiner.

Alexander Woollcott

Class of 1909

One of the best known and most colorful public personalities in America between the two World Wars, Aleck Woollcott began his literary career as a theater critic for The New York Times. A founder and eminent wit of the famed Algonquin Round Table, he wrote articles and columns for leading magazines, including The New Yorker, and his collections of articles and reviews, such as While Rome Burns, became bestsellers. Woollcott was also among the first to exploit the potential of radio, and his “Town Crier” program gave him both national influence and celebrity status.

Steven Wulf

Class of 1972

A founding editor of ESPN The Magazine, Steve Wulf serves as editor-in-chief of ESPN Books. He has been on the staffs of Time and Sports Illustrated and written for Entertainment Weekly, Life, The Wall Street Journal and The Economist. He is co-author of the bestseller Baseball Anecdotes and I Was Right On Time, the autobiography of Negro Leagues legend Buck O’Neil.