2003 Notable Authors

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A. Manette Ansay
Ann Cameron
Gordon MacQuarrie
George Wilbur Peck

A. Manette Ansay, 1964-

A.Manette Ansay was born in Lapeer, Michigan, a town outside of Detroit, in 1964. She moved to Port Washington, Wisconsin, when she was five and grew up among 67 cousins and over 200 second cousins. As a child, she took Suzuki piano lessons and traveled each summer to music camps. In high school, Ansay went on to take lessons at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and after graduating from Port Washington High School in 1982, she attended the Peabody Conservatory of Music as a piano performance major, but was forced to leave in 1984, as a result of increasing health problems.

By the fall of 1985, Ansay was unable to walk, and she was misdiagnosed with MS. Her health improved through the late 1980s and has stabilized since the early 1990s. By the time she was 23, it was clear to her that she needed to find something she could do sitting down.

On January 1, 1988, Ansay made a New Year's resolution that she would write for two hours, three times a week. At this time, she was writing poetry, but her boyfriend kept encouraging her to try writing fiction.

Ansay attended Cornell University from the fall of 1989 until the spring of 1991, and married Jake Smith in 1990. After graduating from Cornell with a master of fine arts degree, she held a lectureship there from 1991 to 1992. From 1992 to 1993, she was Writer-in-Residence at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, and, from 1993 to 1997, was an assistant professor at Vanderbilt University in Nashville. In the spring of 1997, she resigned in order to write full time and has since taught as a visiting writer at Warren Wilson College in Asheville, North Carolina (fall 1997) and the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee (fall 1998). In the spring of 2000, she held the Women's Chair in Humanistic Studies at Marquette University in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

Her first novel, Vinegar Hill, was published in 1994, followed by a story collection, Read This and Tell Me What it Says in 1995. She has since published three more novels: Sister (1996), River Angel (1998) and Midnight Champagne (1999), which was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award. She's been awarded a Pushcart Prize, a Friends of American Writers Prize, and two Great Lakes Book Awards, among others. Vinegar Hill was chosen by Oprah Winfrey as her November 1999 Book Club choice.

Ansay's latest book, a memoir called Limbo, was published in 2001. She is currently living in Florida with her husband, where she is completing a new novel, Blue Water.

Vinegar Hill, 1994
Read This and Tell Me What it Says, 1995
Sister, 1996
River Angel, 1998
Midnight Champagne, 1999
Limbo, 2001

Ann Cameron, 1943-

Ann Cameron was born in Rice Lake, Wisconsin, in 1943, and grew up on 40 acres of land outside town. Childhood provided a time to explore nature - which she loved to do - and to spend quality time outdoors with friends skiing, hiking, biking and fishing. Cameron notes that "growing up in Wisconsin and the values learned there have had a big influence on all my work."

Cameron graduated with honors from Radcliffe College where a highlight was studying with the famous poet Robert Lowell. Later, a job as an editorial assistant for Harcourt Brace Jovanovich gave her the chance to see and meet many famous editors and authors. Then it was back to school, this time to earn an MFA Degree at the University of Iowa's Writers' Workshop. Since that time, Cameron has lived and worked in California, New York and Panajachel, Guatemala. Since moving to Panajachel in 1983, Cameron has kept busy writing for children and supporting the local library, which tragically burned to the ground in late 2000. Cameron has set up a Wisconsin non-profit organization to help the library. (Teresa Cameron, Lake Atitlan Libraries, Inc., 449 Overlook Pass Rd., Hudson, WI 54016).

Cameron's first book, The Seed, was published in 1975. Today she is probably best known for her award-winning books about Julian and his younger brother Huey. "Critics give the author warm praise for her ability to create characters with whom children can identify, as well as her skills at integrating well-meaning adults into her stories." (Something About the Author, vol. 129.) In 2000, Cameron's chapter books, Gloria's Way and Gloria Rising, feature Gloria, a friend of Julian and Huey Bates, who also solves minor problems with good advice from helpful adults.

Other books, set in other times and places, include The Most Beautiful Place in the World with a Guatemalan locale, her story set in Wisconsin in the 1950's, The Secret Life of Amanda K. Woods, and The Kidnapped Prince: the Life of Olaudah Equiano, a faithful retelling/adaptation of Equiano's 1789 autobiography.

Cameron has said that she tries "to write about characters who have inner abundance - sympathy, imagination, inventiveness, hope, intelligence - and who make happy lives despite modest outer resources." (SATA, vol. 129) She has succeeded admirably in this goal.

Selected Bibliography
The Stories Julian Tells, Pantheon, 1981
More Stories Julian Tells, Knopf, 1986
The Most Beautiful Place in the World, Knopf, 1988
The Stories Huey Tells, Knopf, 1995
The Secret Life of Amanda K. Woods, Frances Foster Books, 1998
Gloria's Way, Farrar, Straus, 2000
Gloria Rising, Farrar, Straus, 2002

Gordon MacQuarrie, 1900-1956

Gordon MacQuarrie was one of the nation's first and best outdoor writers and journalists. His vivid, humorous stories about hunting and fishing still attract readers today, almost fifty years after his death. MacQuarrie was born in Superior, Wisconsin, on July 1, 1900. After graduating from the University of Wisconsin, his first job was on the Superior Evening Telegram, where he eventually rose to the rank of managing editor.

In 1936, he moved to the Milwaukee Journal to take the new post of outdoor editor and columnist. He worked there for twenty years until his sudden death from a heart attack on November 10, 1956. In addition to his newspaper columns, MacQuarrie wrote numerous stories about his hunting and fishing adventures with his father-in-law, the so-called President of the Old Duck Hunters Association. These memorable stories appeared in Field & Stream and Sports Afield in the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.

After his death, his stories were compiled and edited by Zack Taylor and published in three still-popular books. MacQuarrie was elected to the Wisconsin Conservation Hall of Fame in 1998. MacQuarrie's love of nature and the hunt is evident in his work as is his strong conservation ethic.

Selected Bibliography
Stories of the Old Duck Hunters & Other Drivel, 1967
More Stories of the Old Duck Hunters1983
Last Stories of the Old Duck Hunters, 1985
Gordon MacQuarrie: The Story of an Old Duck Hunter, by Keith Crowley, 2003

George Wilbur Peck, 1840-1916

Born in New York state in 1840, humorist-newspaperman-politician George W. Peck became a Wisconsin resident at the tender age of three, when his parents moved to Whitewater. Peck spent the rest of his days in Wisconsin, except for two brief periods - once for three years when he served in the Union army during the Civil War and again, briefly, in New York City while editing fellow Wisconsin native Brick Pomeroy's newspaper, the Democrat.

At age 15, Peck began an apprenticeship as a printer at his hometown newspaper, the Whitewater Register. By 1874, he had his own newspaper. Peck's Sun was first located in La Crosse, then Peck moved it to Milwaukee four years later - under the telling banner of "What vaccination is to the small pox, Peck's Sun is to the blues."

One of the main features of Peck's newspaper was his "Peck's Bad Boy" column in which he recounted the exploits of "Hennery," the bad boy who was forever getting into trouble and causing grief and pain to his fellow citizens, in general, and his Pa, in particular.

Set in a highly ethnic Milwaukee at the end of the nineteenth century, the "Bad Boy" stories provide an amusing (if not always politically correct in today's terms) look at growing up precocious during a time of rough-and-tumble, bustling growth in America's cities where the sky was the limit and the practical joke was king. Hugely popular at the time, Peck's tales of devilish innocence served as a prototype for many comic characters to come - from Booth Tarkington's Penrod to Hank Ketcham's Dennis the Menace.

So well-known had Peck become, thanks to his newspaper writings, that the Democratic party drew upon his widespread fame with the general public to get him elected as mayor of Milwaukee in 1890, and then, later that same year, as governor of Wisconsin. Always one to celebrate the diversity of the state's ethnic makeup during those times of high immigration, Peck won both elections largely on the basis of his opposition to the Bennett law, which banned the use of any languages other than English in the schools.

Peck held the office of governor for two terms until his defeat by another famous Wisconsin rabble-rouser, Robert LaFollette, in 1904. After finishing his service as governor, Peck returned to his beloved Milwaukee, where he died on April 16, 1916.

Peck's Bad Boy and His Pa, first published in 1883, was the first of over a dozen titles in his "bad boy" writings and provides a representative sampling of the series. (Buccaneer Books, 1996)

How Private Geo. W. Peck Put Down the Rebellion, 1887, is a hilarious look at Peck's wartime misadventures. (Wm. Caxton, 1993)