Er… I Mean, “How Do We Picture Authors Dressed?”
By Jeff Salter
After I saw the magazine ad posted by our Monday Fox, it dawned on me that I actually do have a mental picture of what famous authors look like… at least in the sense of their apparel. Mostly my assessment has come from dust jacket photos (which, of course, don’t always depict that individual in the act of writing, but DO most often have that individual carefully posed).
Most of those images I recall were of male authors sitting back in their study chairs typically smoking a pipe or cigarette. Their clothing? Well, often a suit or sports jacket… or sometimes a sweater.
You didn’t see many bare arms in author photos unless the subject was Ernest Hemingway.
Samuel Clemens was a (sometimes cynical) humorist, so the well-known photo of him writing in bed was surely his way of poking his reading public in the eyeball.
An image that jumps to mind of female authors is the venerable photo of Barbara Cartland, dressed to the nines, in her lushly appointed parlor, holding some teeny canine pet. Cartland appeared moments away from sweeping out the door to a grand ball.
One of my favorite author photos is of my hometown hero Walker Percy, who is seated (relaxing) in an Adirondack chair in his Covington (LA) back yard. I searched for that picture but couldn’t locate it [though I found a similar one where he’s relaxing on a small bench].
I’ve had a few photos taken of me while I was actually writing but none of these are handy and none have ever been transformed into digital images. You’d get a kick out of the one (1973) of me in my barracks room at Thule AB (Greenland) because I was sitting back in my chair and smoking a pipe! Ha. [I’m also wearing a new bathrobe my wife sent me while I was at that remote station.] Two un-posed photos I recall are one from my perch at the Hammond Daily Star (1969) – me in short-sleeved shirt and tie – and one at my editor’s desk at the Cannon AFB (NM) Mach Meter (1972) — me in my “1505” khaki uniform. Wish I could locate those pictures to share with youse guys.
More to the topic
So, for today, I guess I’ll focus on what I’m typically wearing as a retired librarian writing (more-or-less) full-time — i.e., the past 10.5 years in Possum Trot KY.
Okay, here is the shocker: on warm days I’m wearing cargo shorts, socks and slippers, and a t-shirt.
On colder days, I switch from cargo shorts to fleece britches (what some people used to call gym warm-ups), and add a long-sleeved Henley for my upper body. If it’s really cold inside, I’ll add a blue denim shirt but leave it un-buttoned.
There, my secret is revealed. And now that there’s so little remaining mystery in my writing apparel… maybe my leagues of readers and fans will buy more of my books!
If you’re an author, what do YOU wear while writing?
If you’re a reader, what do you imagine your favorite author wears while writing?
[JLS # 319]