Today is National Authors’ Day. In 1928, teacher Nellie Verne Burt McPherson suggested the creation of a holiday dedicated to American authors at a meeting of the Bement Illinois Women’s Club.
McPherson was inspired by an experience she’d had more than a decade earlier while lying in a hospital recuperating from an illness. She’d written a fan letter to Irving Bacheller after reading his story, Eben Holden’s Last Day A’Fishin.
She was thrilled when the author responded by sending her an autographed copy of another one of his stories. She remembered his kindness when she pioneered the observance.
As president of the club, she submitted her idea to the General Federation of Women’s Club. It was celebrated unofficially for many years. In 1949, the United States Department of Commerce made it an official holiday, but it remained largely unknown for almost 20 years.
After McPherson’s death in 1968, her grandaughter Sue Cole began to promote the observation of National Authors’ Day. She urged readers to write to American authors to “brighten up the sometimes lonely business of being a writer.” Other ways to celebrate include re-reading a classic, picking up a current title or writing reviews for your favorite books and authors on Goodreads or Amazon.
Happy National Authors’ Day!