What’s in a name? Books, apparently

I hadn’t paid any attention to it until very recently–until right after I signed a contract making me “officially” a novelist–but there’s a footnote in my dad’s autobiography/memoir (for family only) that explains the source of his given name: Harold Wright.

By extension, since I was named after Dad (yes, I’m a “Junior”), you can say my name sprang from the same headwaters. (I’m talking about Harold Wright, not Buzz. Buzz just became a convenient nickname to avoid confusion with Dad.)

As I said, the derivation of Harold Wright was largely ignored by me until I became a fledgling novelist. Then, in thumbing through a well-worn copy of my dad’s autobiography about a month ago, his footnote regarding the name jumped right out at me: “A popular novelist during my mother’s youth was Harold Bell Wright. According to her report, she got my name from him.”

Harold Bell Wright? Who the heck was he? Never heard of him. Well, it turns out his novels outsold those of every other American writer during the first quarter of the 20th century. He penned 19 books and is said to have been the first author to become a millionaire by virtue of his writing. Six of his novels appeared on top-ten bestseller lists. One of his most famous was The Shepherd of the Hills, later made into a movie starring John Wayne.

Curiously, my dad became a prolific writer, though as a college professor he authored textbooks (over three dozen), not novels. I became a writer, too, though hardly a prolific one. To my credit: only five nonfiction books, and now a novel aborning.

What’s in a name? Books, apparently. Oh, and one more thing. Take a look at that name again: Harold Bell Wright. The publisher of my first novel? BelleBooks.

Now there’s a bizarre connection.

Photo: Harold Bell Wright
Harold Bell Wright was one of the most popular authors of the early 20th century.  Six of his novels landed on top-ten bestseller lists.


Leave a Comment