Daniel Handler Biography

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(Beacham's Guide to Literature for Young Adults)

Daniel Handler, born in San Francisco, California, in 1970, is the creator and alter-ego of Lemony Snicket, the mysterious "author" and narrator of the series recounting the unfortunate lives of the Baudelaire orphans. The wildly imaginative Handler was born in San Francisco, California, and grew up in a quiet neighborhood. His father is an accountant and his mother is a college dean. He attended Wesleyan University in Connecticut where he graduated in 1992. In 1990, Handler won an Academy of American Poets prize, and two years later received an Olin Fellowship that allowed him to write his first novel for adults, The Basic Eight (2000), a story of a satanic cult and murder. Handler also worked for two years as a comedy writer for "The House of Blues Radio Hour," a syndicated radio show in San Francisco, and has written freelance articles for Newsday and the Village Voice in New York.

Handler cites such writers as Carson McCullers, Vladimir Nabokov, and Haruki Murakami as influences on his work as well as children's writers like Roald Dahl and Edward Gorey. Early on he showed a taste for the unusual. After the success of his first novel, The Basic Eight, set in a high school, Handler was asked to write a young adult novel by an editor acquaintance. Handler resisted at first because he thought that so much children's literature was poorly written. However, he relented and reworked an earlier idea of a mock-gothic novel, never expecting it to be a success. The pseudonym, Lemony Snicket, had been a joke for Handler and his friends for some time, since he used it to do research for The Basic Eight, contacting right-wing organizations for background for his novel. After the success of the "A Series of Unfortunate Events" books, Handler found himself on New York Times Best-Seller Lists as Lemony Snicket.

Handler continues to add books to his popular series, intending to write a projected thirteen books in the Unfortunate Events series, and appears all over the world to entertain his young readers. He presents himself as a representative for Lemony Snicket who cannot appear because he was bitten in the armpit by a gigantic black bug; he goes on to share the creative humor so evident in his books to the delight of children and adults. Handler works on other projects as well, such as a musical film inspired by the movie The Umbrellas of Cherbourg with his friend Stephin Merritt, songwriter of the group Magnetic Fields. Handler moved back to San Francisco from New York in 2000 where he now lives with his wife, Lisa Brown.