Great Literary Characters Inspired by Real Famous People

This week will see the release of a book we’re pretty excited about: Carlene Bauer’s Frances and Bernard, a novel inspired by the relationship between Flannery O’Connor and Robert Lowell. After the jump, we’ve put together a list of some other great novels with characters inspired by real life people that have caught the cultural consciousness — excepting works that are primarily autobiographical, and focusing on books that are not just historical fiction, but true adaptations (names are changed!) of people and events. Read through our list after the jump, and if we missed your favorite in this category, be sure to add it on in the comments.

Frances and Bernard = Flannery O’Connor and Robert Lowell in Frances and Bernard, Carlene Bauer

Flannery O’Connor — our stiff-lipped, whip-smart Catholic girl — met the manic, handsome poet Robert Lowell at Yaddo, an artist’s colony, in the late 1940s. As the story goes, she was smitten, and he was mostly uninterested — she stayed unmarried until her death (and she is only known to have kissed one person, a textbook salesman, obviously), he married thrice with all the passion one might expect from a mania-driven poet. In Bauer’s epistolary novel, she imagines the relationship that might have been, and readers can happily indulge in both a well-written, compelling love story, and if they’re anything like us, a little bit of romantic wish-fulfillment for one of their favorite authors.