Can the Writing Gene be Inherited?

This is a very interesting question. As a child, my grandfather spent many hours reading to me which did, I believe implant in me a love of the written word. Our walks in the woods close to his home also developed in me a love of nature which does, I think manifest in some of my poetry. Likewise I had a wonderful school teacher, Mr Delacruz who had a store cupboard who’s shelves groaned under the weight of books. My grandfather’s love of literature and Mr Delacruz’s love of the art has been passed down to me. As to the question whether writers are born or made, I am wary of nailing my colours to the mast on this matter. In the past Marxist determinists said (or strongly implied) that the environment was responsible for almost everything in the shaping of the human personality. This deterministic outlook has, in some circles, been replaced by the equally deterministic perspective that its all down to genetics. Both views strike me as highly reductionist and it is, I suspect a complex mixture of nature and nurture that helps to determine whether a person becomes a creative, whether as an artist, poet or author.

Story Empire

Hello, SEers! Mae here with you today as we enter a new month. Happy first day of July!

In June, I raised the question “are writers born or made?” Today, I want to follow up with another question: can the writing gene be inherited?

strands of DNA

Think about the Bronte sisters. Neither parent was a writer, though both were said to be extremely literate. All three sisters, plus their brother, played games of imagination as children, possibly cultivating their creative side while dreaming up fanciful places. My earlier post, Are Writers Born or Made, would point to this as their “trigger” moment—assuming the desire to write was dormant inside.

We also have brothers Alex and Evelyn Waugh, known for Islands in the Sun and Brideshead Revisited, respectively. Their father, Arthur Waugh was a biographer (Alfred, Lord Tennyson and Robert Browning), as well as a literary critic. Evelyn’s son, Auberon went…

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9 thoughts on “Can the Writing Gene be Inherited?

    1. K Morris Poet Post author

      You are welcome, Mae. Yours is a great article and I suspect this issue will continue to exercise scientists, philosophers etc, for a long time to come. I’m delighted that you enjoyed my introductory comments to the reblog. Best wishes – Kevin

  1. debbiejonesalwaysamused

    Great post, Kevin. I love how your Grandfather & Mr Delacruz helped to shape your interest in all types of literature. They do say, there’s often that one teacher you can pinpoint as having a big influence on a certain aspect of your life. I think there must be some truth in the inheritance of genes. If it’s true of physical aspects, like sports-oriented families, then surely it can be true of different forms of art. However, I also think it does take someone with a good eye or intuition, noticing certain traits in a child, so they can be nurtured & their gifts finely tuned. For those where no immediate family ever showed such interest in a subject, you could say it had to start somewhere. Alternatively, an ancestor had an enquiring mind, for example, or the correct physical attributes, which were passed forward & used to their potential. So, I’d agree with you that it’s a bit of both; nature & nurture have their part to play, but we’ll never really know how equal those parts are.

    1. K Morris Poet Post author

      Thank you, Debbie. Both my grandfather and Mr Delacruz where wonderful people and I owe a great deal to them, more than I can ever express. You draw an interesting comparison between sports people and writers which does, I believe contain much merit. I was 9 or 10 when my grandfather died and have no recollection of ever having discussed writing (or whether he wrote) with him. However, at that age it would have been unlikely for me to do so. But his love of literature has, undoubtedly been passed down to me, either through genes, simply via his encouragement of me reading, or via a combination of the 2. Best wishes – Kevin


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