11 Best Authors From Florida

Discover the most celebrated authors from Florida and the literary works that put them on the map. Dive into their influences and contributions to literature.

Authors from Florida pen captivating stories and are often energized by the Sunshine State’s pristine beaches, theme parks, and all-year sunny weather. As home to 22.6 million people, Florida boasts a diverse culture, including Native American and Spanish influences. If you want to know more about the state, its capital – Tallahassee – hosts the Museum of Florida History.

Florida authors love sharing interesting and different sides of their home state. As one of its notable authors, Tim Dorsey said: “Yes, give us books about the psychotic behavior and peripheral weirdness we see all around every day — and we will laugh in its face. We are a proud people. We are Floridians.”

Are you looking for literature to stimulate your brain? See our list of the best books for intellectuals.

Best Authors From Florida Ranked

1. Zora Neale Hurston

Zora Neale Hurston
Zora Neale Hurston’s house is a National Historic Landmark

Despite leaving the literary scene for more than 60 years now, Zora Neale Hurston will always be a pioneer writer of folk fiction. She specifically told tales of African Americans in the South. Hurston’s childhood in Eatonville, Florida, where “her people” and their achievements are welcome and evident, motivated her to never think of being inferior.

To further her understanding, she also studied the culture and folklore of African Americans. Through her writings, she shared their racial struggles and pains. Her most famous novel is Their Eyes Were Watching God – a coming-of-age story complemented by 1930s Southern black slang.

She has written novels, short stories, plays, essays, and scripts. Hurston’s versatility earned her many accolades and recognitions, some even given to her posthumously. Some were a Guggenheim Fellowship and the National Women’s Hall of Fame awards.

“But I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul nor lurking behind my eyes. I do not mind at all.”

Zora Neale Hurston, How it Feels to Be Colored Me
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02/18/2024 09:01 pm GMT

2. Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings was named Great Floridian in 2009

Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings lived in Cross Creek, Florida – a historical place and the set of her most notable work, The Yearling. Initially released in 1938, this book focuses on family dynamics and survival. It earned Rawlings a Pulitzer Prize and a 1946 film adaptation. The movie was well-received, winning two Oscars and a Golden Globe.

Though The Yearling was a massive success, Rawlings had to undergo several rejections first. The novel’s achievements made her feel better since her own life inspired it. It was a pleasant surprise that many found it heartwarming and resonating with her story.

Here’s a fun fact: Rawling and his husband own the Castle Warden Hotel in St. Augustine. Some of her works are here, making it an excellent destination for tourists and other Florida writers. You might also be interested in our guide on the best authors from Ohio.

“Now he understood. This was death. Death was a silence that gave back no answer.”

Majorie Kinnan Rawlings, The Yearling
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02/18/2024 09:16 pm GMT

3. Dave Barry

Dave Barry
Dave Barry is the lead guitarist and vocalist of a rock band

Dave Barry is a famous author and humor columnist in the Miami Herald newspaper. His hilarity and witty parody have earned him many notoriety and recognition. In fact, he got a Pulitzer Prize for Commentary and the Walter Cronkite Award for Excellence in Journalism. “America’s finest satirical novelist,” Carl Hiaasen, praised him, commenting that “Dave Barry remains one of the funniest writers alive.”

Barry pens novels, non-fiction, comics, children’s novels, columns, and screenplays. His bestselling work is the Starcatchers Series, with young adults as his intended audience. Peter and the Starcatcher, the first book of the franchise, eventually became an acclaimed play, bagging five 2012 Tony Awards.

“Electricity is actually made up of extremely tiny particles called electrons, that you cannot see with the naked eye unless you have been drinking.”

Dave Barry, Peter and the Starcatchers
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4. Ernest Hemingway

Ernest Hemingway
Ernest Hemingway won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954

Ernest Hemingway was a novelist, short-story writer, and journalist. Because of his wildly publicized life, his influence on the literary world is still palpable. His travels and habit of staying in different places offered him the inspiration he needed for his stories. Hemingway’s experiences are reflected through his adventure-driven characters, often focusing on themes of love, war, wilderness, and loss.

One of his travels took Hemingway to Key West, Florida, where he stayed for eight years. During this time, he penned To Have and Have Not – a tale of a fishing boat captain who avoids political involvement during the war. Another masterpiece by this author is his first novel, The Sun Also Rises – a powerful writing and a classic about discontentment and masculinity.

After his wife donated his paper to the John F. Kennedy Library, Hemingway’s works continued to earn him recognition. Read our guide to the best Ernest Hemingway books.

“Every day is a new day. It is better to be lucky. But I would rather be exact. Then when luck comes you are ready.”

Ernest Hemingway, The Old Man and the Sea
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02/18/2024 08:36 pm GMT

5. Tim Dorsey

Tim Dorsey
Tim Dorsey used to be a reporter and editor

Tim Dorsey is famously known for his 26-novel series, Serge Storms. The story features the famous character Serge A. Storms – a mentally ill anti-hero. It’s not every day that hear of a protagonist like Serge A. Storms. The first book in the franchise is Florida Roadkill – it’s still Dorsey’s most prominent installment.

Dorsey is known to create fantasy, mystery, and crime novels with a touch of humor. For his cleverness and writing prowess, he earned a John D. MacDonald Award for excellence in Florida fiction.

Before his literary journey, Dorcey already had a colorful career record. First, he was a police and court reporter. Then, he became the Tampa Tribune general assignment reporter. Later, Dorcey became a political reporter at Tribune’s Tallahassee bureau.

These experiences gave him the background and resources to write his crime thrillers. Looking for more? Check out our round-up of authors from New Orleans.

“If you don’t visualize what you want to accomplish, then you won’t accomplish anything.”

Tim Dorsey, Triggerfish Twist
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02/18/2024 04:15 pm GMT

6. Randy Wayne White

Randy Wayne White
Randy Wayne White is a former fishing guide

Like many other Florida books, Randy Wayne White captures the Florida life in his works. He takes his readers not only on the road but also on the water. In fact, the primary character in his Doc Ford Series is a marine biologist in South Florida. Sanibel Flats kicks off the franchise and introduces Doc Ford to the readers.

White’s Doc Ford Series has 26 novels with three children’s book spinoffs. Surprisingly, with that many novels, it is still ongoing. His tenacity in creating literature made White a New York Times bestselling author. He also earned the Lifetime Literary Award in 2019.

“Society whose moral ideals inhibit its own defense is a society doomed to destruction by those predators it defines as immoral.”

Randy Wayne White, Dead or Night
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02/19/2024 06:01 am GMT

7. Harry Crews

Harry Crews
Harry Crews is a novelist, screenwriter, essayist, and journalist

Crews, who died at 76 in Gainesville, Florida, recorded his adventures as an ex-marine and former University of Florida Teacher via his gripping stories.

Interestingly, Harry Crews has a master’s degree for his military service. However, Crews’ passion was dedicated to creative writing, so he enrolled. After being rejected for the program, Crews left Jacksonville and moved to Fort Lauderdale.

Crews was famous for his dark and gritty narratives. His bizarre themes, often about freaks and outcasts, made him well-known. For instance, The Gospel Singer is a fiction tackling blind faith and corrupt hypocrisy. Another work showcasing his talent is his memoir,  A Childhood: The Biography of a Place.

“There is something beautiful about all scars of whatever nature. A scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed and healed, done with.”

Harry Crews
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02/18/2024 08:36 pm GMT

8. Pat Frank

Pat Frank
Pat Frank became a National Aeronautics and Space Council consultant

Pat Frank was famously known for delving into the theme of the Cold War, nuclear weapons, and the consequences of global conflict. Many described him as the first of the post-Hiroshima doomsday authors. Frank’s notable works are Alas, Babylon, and Mr. Adam. Both tell a story of the aftermath of the nuclear war on the survivors.

His chilling works became a reference to the Department of Defense for imagining and understanding the effects and consequences of weapons on people. His works earned him the American Heritage Foundation’s Outstanding Citizenship Award.

“If Man retained faith in God, he might also retain faith in Man.”

Pat Frank, Alas, Babylon
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02/18/2024 08:36 pm GMT

9. Marjory Stoneman Douglas

Marjory Stoneman Douglas
Marjory Stoneman Douglas earned the nickname “Grande Dame of the Everglades.”

Marjory Stoneman Douglas was not just an author and journalist. She was also an advocate for the protection of the Florida Everglades. Her fight earned her many accolades, including the National Wildlife Federation and National Women’s Hall of Fame.

Many reporters, scholars, and writers remember her to this day, 25 years after her death. A reporter from the St. Petersburg Times described her as “[Someone who] had a tongue like a switchblade and the moral authority to embarrass bureaucrats and politicians and make things happen.”

One of her notable works is Voice of the River, where she shared her life, starting from moving to the frontier town of Miami, Florida.

“You have to stand up for some things in this world.”

Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Marjory Stoneman Douglas: Voice of the River
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02/18/2024 08:42 pm GMT

10. Elmore Leonard

Elmore Leonard
Elmore Leonard prefers writing with pen and paper instead of a laptop or typewriter

Award-winning Elmore Leonard became famous due to his unique writing style. He has mastered creating sharp, realistic dialogue without unnecessary details. The result? Highly engaging stories, focusing on characters and their interactions. This earned Leonard the Grand Master Award for Lifetime Achievement and the PEN USA Lifetime Achievement Award.

Leonard wrote Western themes before combining them with crime fiction. He aimed to get the best of both worlds, setting his works in Detroit and South Florida. Leonard has over 50 novels and short stories, 26 of which were adapted into film. He was best known for his Get Shorty and Rum of Punch.

“My most important piece of advice to all you would-be writers: When you write, try to leave out all the parts readers skip.”

Elmore Leonard, Elmore Leonard’s 10 Rules of Writing
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02/18/2024 08:36 pm GMT

11. Edna Buchanan

Edna Buchanan
Edna Buchanan has covered thousands of murders throughout her career

Though she was born in New Jersey, Edna Buchanan is deeply connected with Florida. As an impressive journalist, she has worked with the Miami Herald. Buchanan received the 2017 Florida Humanities Lifetime Achievement Award after she transitioned to crime writing.

Her dedication doesn’t only include going after information and scoops. Many also know Buchanan as someone who writes with no bias. During her time, police were weary of reporters, but she made it her goal to highlight their humanity. Her dignity as a journalist passed on to her novels.

She’s detailed and offers her audience stimulating reads, like her Britt Montero Series. Its second book, Miami, It’s Murder, is a vibrant and unyielding exploration of crime in Florida’s sun-soaked city. It showcases Buchanan’s talent in weaving gripping narratives infused with gritty realism – a skill only honed through years of reporting on Miami’s crime beat. Buchanan’s works are essential for those captivated by grave mysteries and real-life drama.

They present a unique insider’s perspective on crime with the authenticity of her experiences.

“When I was young, journalism was all about the five double-yews: Where, When, Why, What, and Who. Today it’s about the gees: Garbage and Gossip.”

Edna Buchanan, You Only Die Twice
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02/18/2024 08:36 pm GMT