My hometown of Amherst, Massachusetts comes up in conversation often. Usually I’m talking about how cool it is, or how many bands are from there. I decided to post a list of all the people this town is known for. I’m also going to include Northampton because they are right next to each other, and are culturally similar.
The area around Amherst has 5 colleges: Amherst College, UMass, Smith, Mt. Holyoke and Hampshire. Smith and Mt. Holyoke were the first two women’s schools in the US. I think these 5 colleges are key to why the culture of this area breeds excellence.
Here’s a condensed list of famous people:
Emily Dickinson was born and lived in Amherst.
Robert Frost taught at Amherst College and retired there.
Noah Webster, the guy who wrote the Websters Dictionary (and changed the US spelling of words)
Helen Hunt Jackson was born in Amherst
Eugene Field, who wrote children’s poem Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.
Melvil Dewey devised the Dewey Decimal System while working at Amherst College
Eric Mabius, star of ABC show Ugly Betty (and “Tim” from the L-Word) went to my high school
Julie McNiven, actress on Mad Men and Supernatural
Uma Thurman lived in Amherst for awhile (and her dad taught at Umass I think)
Augusten Burroughs, author of Running with Scissors
Norton Juster, author of The Phantom Tollbooth
J Mascis of Dinosaur Jr.
Mary-Ellis Bunim, television producer and co-creator of MTV’s The Real World and Road Rules
Lydia Maria Child, author of the poem “Over the River and through the Woods”
Chris Collingwood, lead singer of the band Fountains of Wayne
Calvin Coolidge was mayor of Northampton before becoming governor of Massachusetts and then U.S. president
Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird published Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics from their Northampton studio (and I went and saw it as a kid!)
Sylvester Graham, advocate of vegetarianism and namesake of the Graham Cracker (his home is now a great restaurant called Sylvesters)
Jason Loewenstein, singer, songwriter with indie-rock bands Sebadoh and The Fiery Furnaces
Rachel Maddow, radio personality, MSNBC television host, and liberal political commentator
Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon of the band Sonic Youth
Jo Newman, actress (Love and Other Drugs; Gossip Girl)
Lesléa Newman, author of Heather Has Two Mommies.
Mary Rohlich, film and documentary producer on projects including Horrible Bosses and Freakonomics
Kurt Vonnegut, author
Dar Williams, musician
Chris Pureka, musician
Sylvia Plath studied at Smith