Literary Birthday – 17 June – John Hersey

John Hersey was born 17 June 1914, and died 24 March 1993.


  1. Journalism allows its readers to witness history; fiction gives its readers an opportunity to live it.
  2. It’s a failure of national vision when you regard children as weapons, and talents as materials you can mine, assay, and fabricate for profit and defence.
  3. Learning starts with failure; the first failure is the beginning of education.
  4. A writer is bound to have varying degrees of success, and I think that that is partly an issue of how central the burden of the story is to the author’s psyche.
  5. Mankind must destroy anti-humanity before it becomes extinct itself.
  6. To be a writer is to sit down at one’s desk in the chill portion of every day, and to write; not waiting for the little jet of the blue flame of genius to start from the breastbone – just plain going at it, in pain and delight.
  7. Events are less important than our responses to them.
  8. To be a writer is to throw away a great deal, not to be satisfied, to type again, and then again, and once more, and over and over….
  9. The final test of a work of art is not whether it has beauty, but whether it has power.
  10. When the writing is really working, I think there is something like dreaming going on. I don’t know how to draw the line between the conscious management of what you’re doing and this state. . . . I would say that it’s related to daydreaming. When I feel really engaged with a passage, I become so lost in it that I’m unaware of my real surroundings, totally involved in the pictures and sounds that that passage evokes.

John Hersey was a Pulitzer Prize-winning American writer and journalist. He is considered one of the earliest practitioners of New Journalism, in which storytelling techniques of fiction are adapted to non-fiction. He is the author of Hiroshima.

Source for image: Public Domain,

by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 17th June 2017