Literary Birthday – 5 January – Florence King

Florence King was born 5 January 1936 and died 6 January 2016.


  1. Writers who have nothing to say always strain for metaphors to say it in.
  2. ‘Very’ is the most useless word in the English language and can always come out. More than useless, it is treacherous because it invariably weakens what it is intended to strengthen.
  3. True nostalgia is an ephemeral composition of disjointed memories.
  4. America’s commitment to extroversion as a national art form can abrade some naturally aloof personalities until they flower into deadly nightshade.
  5. Hell hath no fury like a liberal arts major scorned.
  6. Writers make everybody nervous but we terrify Silly Service workers. Our apartments always look like a front for something, and no matter how carefully we tidy up for guests we always seem to miss the note card that says, ‘Margaret has to die soon’. We own the kind of books that spies use to construct codes, like The Letters of Mme. de Sevigne, and we are the only people in the world who write ‘oxymoron’ in the margin of the Bible. Manuscripts in the fridge in case of fire, Strunk’s Elements in the bathroom, the Laramie City Directory explained away with ‘It might come in handy’, all strike fear in the GS-7 heart. Nobody really wants to sleep with a writer, but Silly Service workers won’t even talk to us.
  7. Good writing is Coco Chanel’s little black dress, but –ly­ adverbs are women who wear too much jewellery and pin flowers in their hair. I like to rip them, tear them, strip them off until there’s nothing left but sleek, chic verbs.
  8. The witty woman is a tragic figure in American life. Wit destroys eroticism and eroticism destroys wit, so women must choose between taking lovers and taking no prisoners.

Florence King was an American novelist, essayist and columnist. Her works include Southern Ladies and GentlemenConfessions of a Failed Southern Lady and With Charity Toward None: A Fond Look At Misanthropy. She wrote a column for the National Review called ‘The Bent Pin’.

by Amanda Patterson

Are you interested in more authors’ birthdays? Please click here: Literary Birthday Calendar

Posted on: 5th January 2014