A Tribute to E. Lockhart
Emily Jenkins, AKA E. Lockhart, is a full-time American novelist. ‘E’ is what her Dad calls her (something she always liked), while Lockhart was the family name of her maternal grandmother. Born in New York City in 1967, she grew up in Massachusetts and Washington. She went to Vassar college in NYC and attended graduate school at Columbia University where she was awarded a doctorate in English literature with a focus on 19th century British novel and the history of British book illustration.
She has said she knew as young as eight years old that she wanted to be a writer. However, she does admit to having been side-tracked by acting for a while, and subsequently teaching, but eventually began seriously writing at twenty-two.
Reading a lot as a child, until the time came for her to start noticing boys, which, of course, prompted a short hiatus lasting until the summer after high school, she was always interested in literature. It is only after high school that she claims she discovered the likes of Charlotte Bronte, which she somewhat attributes her path to success to. Some may say Bronte had a hand in ushering her towards the fruitful career as a successful author she is cultivating now.
In an effort to expand her writing abilities, Lockhart began reading wildly out of her comfort zone in grad school, which she credits her fluidity with language to. Likewise, she says the expectation of her to write a book-length dissertation gave her the confidence she needed to know she could and would, write a book one day.
She has written predominately in first person, seemingly coming easiest to her. However, she has also experimented, for example, switching to third person in “Disreputable History”; a typical boarding school tale with a girl power twist. A decision she claims was based purely on gut instinct. Similarly, for “Genuine Fraud”; a psychological suspense, it was necessary to write in third person in order to tell the story backwards.
Lockhart has had a variety of works published in her time, ranging from children’s books to young adult novels. Aside from the few already mentioned, she has been highly praised for her textual complexity. “We were Liars” is the first E. Lockhart novel I read, with many instances of intertextuality, referencing works such as King Lear and Wuthering Heights. Similarly, exhibiting hallucinations, fairy tale interjection and the same scene from multiple points of view which all lend to a deeply intriguing and compelling story with numerous layers of meaning and ambiguity.
Lockhart writes in an intense, hauntingly beautiful way that leaves an imprint on the deepest part of your memory. While most people would claim one of the ‘great’ authors to be their favourite; the likes of Shakespeare, Dickens or even one of the Bronte’s, there is something about Lockhart’s writing that struck me in a way no other story has ever managed to do. If you get the chance, I would highly recommend grabbing a copy of one of her magical stories, settling into a comfy chair and get ready for the emotional ride of your life.