The card game Authors was invented in 1861, and I think I’ve been playing it ever since. I certainly don’t remember a time when there wasn’t at least one pack in the house. The pictures on this post are scans of the actual cards and box of one of our packs.
I grew up playing the game. #4 Daughter grew up playing the game. We’re both authors. Coincidence? You decide.
There are lots of different Author packs now (American Authors, Children’s Authors, Woman Authors), and packs featuring composers, artists, whatevers. But this was the original.
The authors in the original pack were: Nathaniel Hawthorne, Louisa May Alcott, Mark Twain, William Shakespeare, Henry W. Longfellow, Charles Dickens, James Fenimore Cooper, Robert Louis Stevenson, Sir Walter Scott, Alfred Lord Tennison, and Washington Irving. The last five were given our own versions of the venerated authors’ names, which generated much hilarity at the time.
I don’t know why those five were christened with private names and the others weren’t. I know we tried to think some up for the others, but they just didn’t “take.”
At the time Authors was invented, only Shakespeare had died more than 30 years prior; all but four of the eleven authors were still alive, and Washington Irving had died only two years before.
You play Authors the same way you play GoFish except (when we played it, anyway), if you ask for a card and your opponent doesn’t have it, the opponent doesn’t say, “Go fish,” but says, “Go to the library.”
Here’s something else we do: When the game is over, the loser must say, “Congratulations!” The winner must say, “Maybe you’ll win next time.” Then we all hang our heads and say, in Eeyore voices, “Thanks for noticin’ me.” Why? I have no earthly idea. But we do, and then we roll around on the floor, cackling with mirth. Have I told you we live in the country, and have relatively little stimulation?
We kind of had a crush on Sir Walter Scott, even though he had white hair. Hey, at least it wasn’t purple, right? We each tried to collect all the Sir Walter Puppy-Dog-Eyes cards, and took them from each other at every opportunity. A cut-throat mother-daughter rivalry over an old dead white man. There’s a book in that, somewhere, but I don’t want to know about it.
Alfred, Lord Tennisnet was NOT our imaginary authorial boyfriend. The only thing he had going for him was a name we could make fun of. He looks very serious and very fierce, and not at all as if he could write the beautiful poetry I know he wrote. Alas for Alfred!
But our favorite — even better than James Fenimore Chickencoop, author of The Last of the Mohahas — was this guy. Washing and Ironing. You know Washing and Ironing, don’t you? He wrote Rip Van Wrinkle.
Okay, maybe it isn’t the best way to inculcate a knowledge of and respect for revered authors, but it’s far from the worst.
A WRITING PROMPT FOR YOU: Give your character a favorite card or board game he or she played as a child.