This is a detailed list of authors who went out of their way and used their privilege to hurt others.
These authors have all exhibited behaviors that cause real harm to individuals or communities in a personal and deliberate way, whether that involves assault or using their platforms to consistently attack marginalized peoples.
On this page, I have listed the individuals to note, as well as articles and personal accounts of their behaviors, as well as charitable organizations who fight against the specific harms that each have caused.
Additionally, on my reviews, please look for this banner:
Any review with this banner indicates an author on this list. If you see this banner, I myself have contributed to one of the listed organizations in an effort to offset the harm I have caused by recognizing this author’s creative work.
- Harmful Behavior: Sexual Harassment, Racism
- Proof: Alexie didn’t even try to deny this himself, issuing a statement in 2018. While it’s not the most satisfying apology, the self-awareness is there. Worth mentioning, also, are Alexie’s comments about mixed individuals and native Hawaiians. There’s a whole lot of points about his problematic nature in this article.
- Notes from the Native and Sexually Harassed Communities: One of the standout pieces accusing Alexie of harassment is Anne Ursu’s article on Medium. Linda Gruno also shares a powerful piece on her personal experience with Alexie and his behavior toward her race.
- Offset: Even though Alexie is an important Native voice, it should not be at the expense of other Native voices, and his behavior against women is unacceptable. Therefore, to offset Alexie’s behavior, I suggest supporting the National Indigenous Women’s Resource Center or Mending the Hoop.
- Harmful Behavior: Sexual Assault.
- Proof: News articles on this are pretty easy to find, but you can start with conversations in Bustle and Vanity Fair.
- Notes from the the Sexually Assaulted Community: Due to this particular allegation and topic, I am not seeking out responses from affected readers. I do not want to out anyone’s trauma.
- Offset: While something like this can never truly be repaired, please consider donating to the Joyful Heart Foundation or RAINN.
- Harmful Behavior: Sexual Harassment, Sexism.
- Proof: Asimov was never subtle about his sexual harassment – in fact, he’s advise others on how best to do it. This Lit Hub article is a good (and unsettling) conversation about his lechery. In fact, many articles mention it. This one includes a discussion on why Asimov considered himself a feminist – because he didn’t want women to “drown the world in babies”. And, of course, there was the 1962 lecture at the World Science Fiction Foundation called “The Positive Power of Posterior Pinching”.
- Notes from Female-Identifying and Sexually Harassed Communities: While the Orbit article linked above is a good example of a woman stomping her foot on Asimov’s behavior. Additionally, he’s used so commonly as a blanket example in articles about sexual harassment, especially harassment at conventions, there’s no argument to be had about his bad behavior and the horrible precedent he set.
- Offset: Though many consider Asimov to be a part of the great science fiction tradition, women (especially those in elevated roles) are conspiculously missing from his work. Therefore, to offset his bias, I recommend donating to the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) or Girls Who Code.
- Harmful Behavior: Outspoken support of a sexual harassed.
- Proof: In 2016, Atwood signed a letter in support of author Steven Galloway who had been accused of sexual assault. While many authors later removed their names, Atwood continued to write a letter defending herself against being called a “bad feminist”. She also took to social media to defend her stance. In doing so, she continues to support the oppression of sexual assault victims.
- Offset: Atwood is a Canadian author, so some of he greatest harm she is doing is to Canadian victims of sexual assault and abuse. Therefore, I recommend offsetting her by supporting or donating to the Assaulted Women’s Helpline or Association of Alberta Sexual Assault Services (AASAS).
Barrie, J. M.
- Harmful Behavior: Racism, Sexism, Pedophilia (inconclusive), Manipulation.
- Proof: As is often the case with classics, there’s no definitive proof of Barrie’s personality in these ways. However, sexism in Barrie’s work speaks for itself and Tiger Lily, Wendy, and Tinker Bell are all troubling characterizations. Other things, too, are quite obvious: the Smithsonian magazine did a good job discussing his racism and Peter Pan’s adaptions throughout history. And while pedophilia charges are unproved and conjecture, books like J.M. Barrie and the Lost Boys discuss manipulation and mental/emotional abuse Barrie heaped upon the Llewelyn family. Basically, Barrie wasn’t a nice guy.
- Offset: In honor of repairing the damaging caricature of Tiger Lily, may I suggest donating to the Native American Rights Fund (NARF)? … Also, just as a side comment, Barrie’s works are peculiar in that all rights to Peter Pan are retained by the Great Ormond Street Hospital Charity. Any licensed purchase of Peter Pan-related items directly supports this charity (which is a good thing, and unlike any other author on this list).
Card, Orson Scott
- Harmful Behavior: Homophobia.
- Proof: Check out this trash fire of direct quotes collected by Verbicide.
- Notes from the LGBTQIAP+ Community: I am so impressed with Rachel Edidin’s story on Wired but a quick google search will turn up a lot of responses to this from about the same time the film was released in 2013.
- Offset: Want to offset Orson Scott Card’s work against LGBTQ+ rights? Every time you read one of his books, please consider donating to the The Trevor Project.
- Harmful Behavior: Racism, Sexism, Antisemitism, Fat-Shaming.
- Proof: There are a whole slew of articles and conversations about this man’s behavior, almost all of them arriving post-humously. I think this one from the BBC covers it best, but articles from the Free Library of Philadelphia and the Independent are contenders, as well as a well-researched article from Donald Yacovone with Harvard.
- Notes from Black, Female-Identifying, Jewish, and Other Affected Communities: A compelling article from Times of Israel discusses his deeply armful antisemitic views, while Chryl Corbin presents an essay on racism in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
- Offset: Dahl is just the sort of terrible person where you can focus on EVERYTHING terrible he has said/done… because he said it all. For the purposes of being concise, I’m going to recommend donating to The Jewish Federations of North America to offset his antisemitic views, and Assata’s Daughters or the Black Lives Matter Global Movement to offset his racist views.
- Harmful Behavior: Sexual Harassment, Manipulation, Gaslighting.
- Proof: Please see this article from The Guardian or this one from the New York Times, as two examples. Random House dropped Dashner after allocations as well.
- Notes from the Harassed Communities: Due to this particular allegation and topic, I am not seeking out responses from #OwnVoices readers. I do not want to out anyone’s trauma.
- Offset: Please consider donating to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center to support victims of sexual assault and harassment and end sexual violence in our communities.
Handler, Daniel (also: Lemony Snicket)
- Harmful Behavior: Racism, Sexism.
- Proof: Handler himself had to come out and admit his treatment of Jacqueline Woodsonwas racist. While he donated a large check, I don’t think I’m quite buying that apology. Additionally, he has a history of inappropriate sexual misconduct and has been called out repeatedly, before and since the #MeToo movement.
- Offset: If you still insist on reading Handler/Snicket’s books, please consider donating to either We Need Diverse Books or WriteGirl to offset some of the damage he has caused others in our community.
Hutchinson, Shaun David
- Harmful Behavior: Racism, Homophobia, Attacking Critics.
- Proof: Readers have called out Hutchinson on poor rep in The State of Us in several different instances – from racism to homophobia, expecting the LGBTQIAP+ community to learn understanding for their non-LGBTQIAP+ peers instead of vice-versa.. The book has also garnered criticism from the aro/ace community for problematic representation. His response to such has been to soft block critics after publicly stating that soft blocking affects his mental health. He’s known for making comments on Twitter that are problematic, raising flags in the community and personally attacking reviewers when not tagged who disagreed with him.
- Offset: You can offset some of Hutchinson’s behavior by volunteering with Asexual Outreach or by speaking out with PFLAG.
Lackey, Mercedes (NEW)
- Harmful Behavior: Ableism, Transphobia, Racism
- Proof of Ableism: Lackey writes scenes into both her Heralds of Valdemar and XX series that actively portray disabled or mentally divergent characters as less. In Arrow’s Flight, Talia is blamed for her lack of control to the point of emotional abuse and villainization, rather than taught or supported. In addition, Redoubt includes a character who has had an operation to correct a deformed leg which continues to suggest she’s “better now” and “no longer a burden”. This continues into Closer to the Heart, where a nonverbal character is also portrayed with ableist language.
- Notes from the Disabled Community: Unfortunately, I was unable to located any self-identified individuals from the disability community commenting on Lackey’s disability representation.
- Proof of Transphobia: In a Q&A on her website, Lackey said she would not write a transgender protagonist because it would be too niche and doesn’t fit with her agenda or worldbuilding. Fans were offended and disappointed in this answer, as can be read here and here. In addition, Lackey’s novella collection Trio of Sorcery presents a transgender villain whose identity is the source of their villainous deeds. Finally, The Eagle and the Nightingale has problematic transphobic content.
- Notes from the Trans Community: There are several trans individuals responding to the review of Trio of Sorcery, including this one that explains why the portrayal was so importantly bad. Responses can also be found in this Tumblr thread.
- Proof of Racism: Lackey has been criticized for relying on the Magical Native American in The Last Herald Mage, Standing Ground, and Black Gryphon. She’s also been called out for orientationalism.
- Notes from the Affective Communities: Unfortunately, I was unable to located any self-identified individuals from the Native, Black, or Asian communities commenting on Lackey’s race representation.
- Offset: You can read up on the ACLU’s website on how to become an advocate for transgender people. To support those with disabilities, you can donate to the Disability Rights Education Fund – I would specifically recommend the Disability Media Alliance Project which has the specific goal of assuring accurate representation of the disabled community in the media. Finally, to support one of the affected communities targeting through her racist writing, please consider reviewing this list of organizations to support the Asian community compiled by The Strategist.
- Harmful Behavior: Ableism
- Proof of Ableism: Me Before You is noted as deeply problematic due to the themes of disability and suicide that were written not only by an able person, but one who has managed to grossly misrepresent the value of the disabled community – from their happiness to their sexuality. and everything in-between. The message that the film and book both project is that “it’s better to be dead than disabled“. In an interview Moyes defended her choices said it was unfortunate readers and viewers can away with that message.
- Notes from the Disabled Community: Most of the links above are from the community.
- Offset: Please consider donating to the Christopher and Dana Reeve Foundation, which funds research on spinal cord injury and improving the quality of life for individuals and families affected by paralysis. You can also donate to Journey Forward, who work with those affected by paralysis or spinal cord injury to achieve maximum mobility.
- Harmful Behavior: Transphobia, Problematic racial depictions.
- Proof of Problematic Racial Depicitions: It’s worth taking a look at the “Gyptians”/the Roma people – this article has a good analysis.
- Transphobic Proof: In 2018, Pullman initiated a Twitter thread which implied the validity of transgender people was up for argument. While ultimately landing at the time on support, the initial tweet and blatant ignorance was concerning. When the issue resurfaced in 2020, he once again refused to draw the line. This article from The Mary Sue is a good discussion of the problem in 2018.
- Notes from the LGBTQIAP+ and Roma Communities: While I was unable to find any blog posts or book tube videos responding to Pullman (if you have or know one, please let me know and I’ll link it!), I did go through the 2018 tweet and identify self-identified affected community replies:
- Offset: Want to offset Philip Pullman? Consider donating to Voice of Roma (a non-profit which supports Romani-Americans), Gendered Intelligence (a UK-based non-profit that supports trans youth), or TGEU (a coalition that fights to protect trans rights in Europe and central Asia).
Rowling, J. K. (also: Robert Galbraith)
- Harmful Behavior: Transphobia, Ableism.
- Proof: June 6, 2020 – 1, 2 as well as a very harmful follow up here.
- Proof: December 19, 2019 – 1
- Notes from the LGBTQIAP+ and Disabled Communities: Check out these explanations by trans creators Jessie Gender and Vera Wylde via Council of Geeks. Kris Guin speaks out on personal experience and on the ableist comments as well, and Aja Romano offers this very thorough discussion on how Rowling’s words affected them.
- Offset: Want to offset J. K. Rowling? Consider donating to non-profits like Solutions Not Punishment or Mermaids every time you read one of her novels. Additionally, please consider the Autistic Self Advocacy Network to combat her ableist views.
Tacitus, Cornelius (Historical)
- Harmful Behavior: Antisemitism.
- Proof: Tacitus’ histories have thirteen chapters dedicated to the Jewish people, filled with negative language and defaming text. It’s the longest non-Jewish account about Jews from ancient times and was written by an influential historian, making the antisemitic perspective more influential and therefore damaging.
- Notes from the Jewish Community: Scholarly articles about Tacitus are easy to come across, such as this one from Shmuel Almog and Klaus S. Davidowicz.
- Offset: Consider donating to the Jewish National Fund or to the Jewish European Professionals non-profit to support Jewish communities.
Zimmer Bradley, Marion (NEW)
- Harmful Behavior: Pedophilia, Child Abuse.
- Proof: In 2014, Moira Greyland shared her history of abuse by her mother, Marion Zimmer Bradley. There were also notes of pedophilia in her books, possibly a reflect of her own preferences. A great example of this is shared on Electric Lit. In addition, there have been publications which suggested Bradley knew of the pedophilic sexual abuse of her husband and assisted him in his acts. Most potent of these are Zimmer Bradley’s own words from court testimonies regarded her involvement in relation to her husband’s pedophilia; and the shared emails (with permission) from Greyland. I do feel compelled to note that Greyland’s own beliefs about the LGBTQIAP+ community should be considered separately from her testimonies of abuse – I deeply disagree with the things she said about LGBTQIAP+, but that does not make her personal history and trauma any less true. Further proof is easy to find, just Google.
- Notes from the Community: Due to the sensitive and traumatic nature of this particular offense, I will not be providing thoughts from the affected communities. I refer again to Greyland’s emails.
- Offset: Greyland specifically requested folks to donate to RAINN if they wished to donate money. In addition, I will add a suggestion to support Child USA, which is US-based non profit working to end child abuse and neglect.
Last Updated: 9/4/2021