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WHS Authors

Roots and Wings: Wellesley Highs Legacy of Nurturing Creativity” 

In honor of Katharine Lee Bates (1874), Sylvia Plath (1950), Wilbury Crockett (WHS English teacher 1944-1980, Chair for 30 years), and all WHS writers and teachers past, present, and future. 

This photo, capturing the intensity and commitment of the student-teacher relationship, was taken at Wellesley High School in 1970 and shows the legendary WHS English teacher and Department Chair Wilbury Crockett (whom Sylvia Plath called her mentor and muse”) with student Linda Barnes (who went on to become a professor and author).


Wellesley has a remarkable literary legacy: that two of the most prominent and best known women writers of the 20th century called this town home.  Katharine Lee Bates and Sylvia Plath both achieved international renown, and always paid tribute to the extraordinary inspiration and support they received from Wellesley High School.  Plath inscribed the only volume of poetry published during her lifetime “For Mr. Crockett — in whose classroom and wisdom these poems have root.”  

     But Wellesley’s unique contribution to literature also includes the equally compelling story of many other extraordinary writers who began their work in WHS classrooms.  For generations, the commitment of WHS’ English teachers to nurturing young students’ creativity has become deeply enmeshed in the department’s mission.  The teachers of this town have produced hundreds of writers, from Pulitzer Prize and Emmy Award winners to a #1 “New York Times” bestseller.  

     This is an important time for a celebration of WHS authors, and of the remarkable legacy of the school and teachers who have embraced, challenged, and inspired them.  So WHS grad/author Beth Hinchliffe and longtime WHS English teacher Jeanie Goddard have organized “Roots and Wings:  Wellesley High’s Legacy of Nurturing Creativity.”

The project will have two parts, being planned in consultation with another longtime WHS English teacher (and Department Chair) Brooks Goddard, and award-winning novelist Nina Shope: 

  1.  A master list of WHS writers in every field (fiction, nonfiction, scriptwriting, journalism, poetry, etc.), along with their publications and awards.  This will be an ongoing project housed here on the Wellesley Free Library website.  Please send names and information to:  Beth.Hinchliffe@aol.com
  2.  An event, to be held at the Wellesley Free Library on October 11, where a panel of WHS teachers and writers will discuss both their own journeys at WHS, and also the urgent importance of continuing to commit to this priority in the future.  Details forthcoming. 

    

The organizers are grateful to the outstanding team of the Wellesley Free Library (especially Library Director Jamie Jurgensen and Assistant Director Cara Rothman) for their enthusiasm and support.

 

Over the past 30 years alone, a sampling of WHS authors include: 

  • the current U.S. Ambassador to China (and prolific writer)
  • a #1 “New York Times” Bestseller
  • multiple winners of Pulitzer Prizes, Emmy Awards, National Book Awards, Humanitas Prizes, and Writers’ Guild of America Awards
  • a “Saturday Night Live” regular cast member and writer who then developed and wrote her own TV show
  • two Presidential Speechwriters at the White House (one for each party)
  • critically acclaimed writers of experimental fiction, children’s books, thrillers (including international bestsellers), journalism, and poetry
  • industry recognized writers for “Desperate Housewives,” “Frasier,” “Touched by an Angel,” “The Dog Whisperer,” “Breaking Bad,” and “Mad Men” (the last two were a WHS brother and sister, who competed for an Emmy)
  • award-winning playwrights whose plays have been produced in three countries
  • writers whose books or lives (including a memoir by an international drug smuggler/WHS grad) were turned into movies

 

Roots and Wings” honors all WHS writers and teachers, and begins by commemorating the three who inspired this work:  Katharine Lee Bates (Class of 1874), Sylvia Plath (Class of 1950), and Wilbury Crockett (WHS English teacher 1944-1980, Chair for 30 years).  For further reading, here are links to three articles about each of their relationships with Wellesley: 


Wellesley High School Authors

Last Name First NameWHS Graduation
AdamsRob
Adler Maurita Corcoran c. 1977
Alderman Peter1964
AlexanderKevin 1999
Andrews Abigail 2000
ArnotBob
Auclair Michael
BaileySusan Hoyle 1974
Baker Lori 1983
BarnesLinda1970
Bates Katharine Lee1874
BeachJeffc. 1972
BingJudith 1964
Bloom Jonathan
BraunerCathy
Bryant Sarah c. 1991
Budson Andrew
Burns Nick
CalderwoodEric
CapobiancoBrenda
CarberrySean
CaughieSarah Bryant1992
Cooppan Vilashini
Davies Jacqueline 1980
Doherty Maggie
Doughtery Nancy Caversc. 1975
Dowling Timothy 1992
DuffyMary P.
Eizenberg Leda1992
Eliot Lyn 1989
Epstein Jennifer Cody 1984
Ertman Martha
EverettCarole 1989
Fields Samantha
FinisonCarrie 1989
Finkelstein Adam 2016
Frank Jennifer Heller 1989
Franks Lucinda 1964
Gannon Mary 1985
GenoveseJeremy c. 1972
GrinspoonDavid 1977
HaltmaierLinda Flaherty
Hamilton Jeffrey
Harper Judith E.1971
HaslettAdam 1988
HinchliffeBeth 1971
Holmes Ashleigh 2002
HonenbergerSally Collins1970
HughesT. John 1964
JacquemettonMaria Mastras c. 1979
Joseph Abigail
Joseph Danielle Cohen 1991
Kolb Harold c. 1964
KornwitzJason
KrizikCathyc. 1977
Lakin Tom 2003
LarschanErica
Levinson Suzy 1992
LoofburrowRachel 2014
LueckeJanis
Manguso Sarah 1992
Marshall Gail
MartirVanessa1993
MastrasGeorge c. 1984
May Peter1969
McDonnellMadeline
McFadden Steven 1967
McMahon Brian
Melanson Sue Chapman 1964
MillerDerek 1988
Miller Louise1989
Murray Kathy 1996
MusikavanhuGail-Agnes
Nacey Susan Lee1985
Noam Eli M. 1964
NoonanErica
PeltierMelissa Joc. 1977
PetersLaura F.
PetersChristopher
PhillipsHal 1982
Picariello Jim 1989
Plath Sylvia 1950
Preston Douglas
Preston Richard1972
ProctorMinna Zalman
Raman Aneesh1997
RedfordKate1986
RippyDaniel 1985
Romero Sofia1990
RossKate 1974
Santostefano Damon 1977
Sexton Anne c. 1946
ShopeNina 1993
Shribman Zoe 2013
Smith (Wilde)Matthew (Pilgrim)1997
SmolensJohn1968
SnyderGretchen
SquierBilly 1968
StipePeter1964
Stone Biz1992
Stone Kathy
Stratton Richard1964
Stravinski Gregory 2007
Suite Darcie Dillard 1979
SynnottMark
Voci Brandon 2019
von RosenvingeValerie1979
Watkins Michaela 1989
WattsLisa 1978
WeilElizabeth
Whalen Shawn
WillardChris1982
Wilson Tom 1971
WoernerAustin 2002
ZabriskieQueen Meccasiac. 1990