The Real 'American Wife': Fiction Based on Actual Famous People

Some authors create thinly veiled characters out of admiration; others, out of pure spite.

banner AP Joyce N Boghosian.jpg
First Lady Laura Bush inspired the main character of Curtis Sittenfeld's 2008 novel 'American Wife.' (AP / Joyce N. Boghosian)

This week will see the release of a book that's worth getting pretty excited about: Carlene Bauer's Frances and Bernard, a novel inspired by the relationship between Flannery O'Connor and Robert Lowell.

Below is 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.

This post also appears on Flavorpill, an Atlantic partner site.

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Emily Temple is an editor at Flavorpill.

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