A Black Balloon Publication ©
By Freddie Moore

You might imagine famous author friendships to have the stability of a mean girl clique: competitive, catty, two-faced. Take Jonathan Franzen and David Foster Wallace, for example: After Wallace committed suicide, Franzen wrote and spoke about it publicly as something  “calculated to inflict maximum pain on those he loved most” and even called the late author out for embellishing his non-fiction work.

But the fact of the matter is that writers often need other writers. They need people to serve as a second pair of eyes on their work, people who can understand the woes of writer’s block, people who can eventually chase them down and demand that they get something done. They also need friends who can nerd out just as hard on the latest bestsellers and the classics, someone who can spend hours discussing what makes a good story click and shout “Look at these goosebumps!” after discussing it.

So here is an ode to all those great friendships between writers, illustrated in photographs and a few great quotes:

Allen Ginsberg and Frank O’Hara

“I don’t think you’re going to find this very healthy and clear, but I really would like to stop working forever — never work again, never do anything like the kind of work I’m doing now — and do nothing but write poetry and have leisure to spend the day outdoors and go to museums and see friends.” — Allen Ginsberg

“I am the least difficult of men. All I want is boundless love.” — Frank O’Hara, Meditations in an Emergency


Alice Munro and Margaret Atwood

“Moments of kindness and reconciliation are worth having, even if the parting has to come sooner or later.” — Alice Munro, The Progress of Love

“This is what I miss, Cordelia: not something that’s gone, but something that will never happen. Two old women giggling over their tea.” ― Margaret Atwood, Cat's Eye


Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald

“The best way to find out if you can trust somebody is to trust them.” — Ernest Hemingway

New friends ... can often have a better time together than old friends.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night


Giles Lytton Strachey and Virginia Woolf

“Human beings are too important to be treated as mere symptoms of the past. They have a value which is independent of any temporal process─which is eternal, and must be felt for its own sake.” — Lytton Strachey, Eminent Victorians

“Some people go to priests; others to poetry; I to my friends ….” — Virginia Woolf, The Waves


Jennifer Egan and Emma Straub 

“You can do it alone. But it's going to be so much harder.” — Jennifer Egan, A Visit from the Goon Squad

“If I'd had a friend next to me, I would have squeezed her arm and said, Can you believe this? —  but kitsch wasn't kitsch if you were alone.” — Emma Straub, Other People We Married


Henry James and Edith Wharton

“Our relation, all round, exists—it's a reality, and a very good one; we're mixed up, so to speak, and it's too late to change it. We must live in it and with it.” — Henry James, The Golden Bowl

“I suppose there is one friend in the life of each of us who seems not a separate person, however dear and beloved, but an expansion, an interpretation, of one's self, the very meaning of one's soul.” — Edith Wharton, A Backward Glance


Christopher Hitchens, Martin Amis, James Fenton, Ian McEwan and Salman Rushdie

“One melancholy lesson of advancing years is the realization that you can’t make old friends.” — Christopher Hitchens, Harper’s Magazine

“It seems to me that you need a lot of courage, or a lot of something, to enter into others, into other people. We all think that everyone else lives in fortresses, in fastnesses: behind moats, behind sheer walls studded with spikes and broken glass. But in fact we inhabit much punier structures. We are, as it turns out, all jerry-built. Or not even. You can just stick your head under the flap of the tent and crawl right in. If you get the okay. ” — Martin Amis, Time’s Arrow

“Stay near to me and I’ll stay near to you – / As near as you are dear to me will do,”  — James Fenton, “Hinterhof”

“I was an intimate sort of child who never spoke up in groups. I preferred close friends." — Ian McEwan, The Paris Review

“I've never had very high regard for therapists. I owe my health, my mental survival, to my friends and loved ones.” — Salman Rushdie, Salon


Helen Keller and Mark Twain

“Walking with a friend in the dark is better than walking alone in the light.” — Helen Keller

“The holy passion of Friendship is of so sweet and steady and loyal and enduring a nature that it will last through a whole lifetime, if not asked to lend money.” — Mark Twain, Pudd'nhead Wilson


Joyce Carol Oates and Jonathan Safran Foer

“All that matters in life is forging deep ties of love and family and friends. Writing and reading come later.” — Joyce Carol Oates, Salon

“I like to see people reunited, maybe that's a silly thing, but what can I say, I like to see people run to each other, I like the kissing and the crying, I like the impatience, the stories that the mouth can't tell fast enough, the ears that aren't big enough, the eyes that can't take in all of the change, I like the hugging, the bringing together, the end of missing someone.” — Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close


What are a few of the great author friendships that stand out to you? Share them with us in the comments below!


Freddie Moore is a Brooklyn-based writer. Her full name is Winifred, and her writing has appeared in The Paris Review Daily and The Huffington Post. As a former cheesemonger, she’s a big-time foodie who knows her cheese. Follow her on Twitter: @moorefreddie

(Image credits, from top: from Book Riot; from This Recording; from Margaret Atwood’s Twitter; from Ernest Hemingway — Going The Other Way From Home; from Effra Road; from Emma Straub’s Tumblr; from The Mount; from Awesome People Hanging Out Together; from Flickr user editrrix)

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