Florence Virginia King (born January 5, 1936 in Washington, D.C.,
USA) is an American novelist, essayist and columnist. While her
early writings focused on the American South and those who live
there, much of King's later work has been published in the magazine
National Review. Her column in National Review, "The Misanthrope's
Corner," was known for "serving up a smorgasbord of
curmudgeonly critiques about rubes and all else bothersome to
the Queen of Mean," as the magazine put it. She supports
conservatism, but is not a "movement conservative."
Though grateful for her fan base, Miss King (she objects to the
concept of "Ms.") considers herself a misanthrope.
to an American mother and an English father, King was raised in
the tidewater region of Virginia by her maternal grandmother.
In 1957, King received her B.A. in history from American University
in Washington D.C., where she was inducted into Phi Alpha Theta.
She also attended the University of Mississippi as a graduate
student, but did not complete her M.A. degree after the traumatic
loss of a girlfriend. She is a lifelong member of the Episcopal
Church, but admits to being an atheist in terms of faith (or lack
had several occupations before she began writing as a career.
In the mid 1950’s, she was a history teacher in Suitland,
Maryland. Later in the decade, she was a file clerk at the National
Association of Realtors. From 1964 to 1967, King was a feature
writer for the Raleigh News and Observer. While at the Raleigh
N&O, King received the North Carolina Press Woman Award for
majority of King’s works under her own name have been non-fiction
essays. She wrote the historical romance novel Barbarian Princess
under the pseudonym of Laura Buchanan. King has also admitted
to having written numerous pornographic stories and pulp paperback
books and erotica under various pseudonyms. She gained national
attention with her column "The Misantrhope's Corner"
in National Review, a conservative magazine of political and social
addition, she wrote numerous articles in The American Enterprise
magazine. At the time of her 2002 retirement, National Review
Books published an anthology of her columns entitled STET, Damnit!
Sometimes called "Erma Bombeck with a bite," King's
sometimes-obscure literary references, dry humor, and erudite
writing limits her mass-appeal. She has also been compared to
H. L. Mencken.
King's first book (published under her own name) was 1975's Southern
Ladies and Gentlemen. The work provides a humorous guide to the
South for "Yankees;" while still funny, it has become
somewhat dated over the years. Her most popular book, 1985's Confessions
of a Failed Southern Lady, is a semi-autobiographical work, focusing
on her grandmother and the influence she had on King's life.
the work, King says she had relationships with both men and women
during college: one woman she fell in love with was killed in
a car crash. She jokingly describes herself as a "conservative
lesbian feminist" and has been referred to as the "World's
Funniest Bi-Sexual-Republican." Miss King has publicly acknowledged
regret at revealing her bisexuality, as she does not want to be
part of the "gay liberation movement."
who now lives in Fredericksburg, Virginia, has kept to herself
since entering retirement in 2002. It is not known if she will
ever write another book.
King on stress: "The American way of stress is comparable
to Freud's 'beloved symptom,' his name for the cherished neurosis
that a patient cultivates like the rarest of orchids and does
not want to be cured of. Stress makes Americans feel busy, important,
and in demand, and simultaneously deprived, ignored, and victimized.
Stress makes them feel interesting and complex instead of boring
and simple, and carries an assumption of sensitivity not unlike
the Old World assumption that aristocrats were high-strung. In
short, stress has become a status symbol." (from "The
Misanthrope's Corner," May 2001)
on the American attention span: "The American attention span
always has gotten a lot of attention. The first to note our easy
distractibility was Alexis de Tocqueville. His findings were echoed
by Frederick Jackson Turner, but being an American, Turner used
the more tactful and romantic 'restlessness.'
distractibility is also the inevitable residue of our undisciplined
feelings. The American proclivity for leaving our emotional lights
on has drained the battery of our attention span dry. The human
spirit can take only so much of 24-hour coverage, memorial services,
ribbons, teddy bears, crisis counseling, and moments of silence.
We pay such obsessive attention to disasters and tragedies that
we end up seeking respite in forgetfulness. (Quick, name one Teheran
to America the Flea Circus. We now have a new disease, Attention
Deficit Disorder, and like all democratic diseases, it does not
discriminate. The good news is that by the time we run the gauntlet
of ADD resources, clinics, programs, workshops, seminars, CBS
Specials, and Sally Struthers promos, no one will remember what
it is." (from "The Misanthrope's Corner," June
summed up her writing efforts in a May 2002 "Misanthrope's
Corner": "Being a writer has made me a lifelong practitioner
of no-holds-barred insight, driven by an irresistible impulse
to shovel through mountains of received bull to get to the bottom
an example of the manners taught to her by her grandmother, she
says: "No matter which sex I went to bed with, I never smoked
on the street." (from Confessions of a Failed Southern Lady,