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Daniel Handler

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Daniel Handler
Handler at a party celebrating the publication of The End, on October 12, 2006
Handler at a party celebrating the publication of The End, on October 12, 2006
Born (1970-02-28) February 28, 1970 (age 54)
San Francisco, California, U.S.
Pen nameLemony Snicket
  • Author
  • musician
  • screenwriter
  • television writer
  • television producer
GenreChildren's literature
Notable worksA Series of Unfortunate Events, All the Wrong Questions, The Basic Eight, Watch Your Mouth, Adverbs
SpouseLisa Brown[1]

Daniel Handler (born February 28, 1970) is an American author, musician, screenwriter, television writer, and television producer. He is best known for his children's book series A Series of Unfortunate Events and All the Wrong Questions, published under the pen name Lemony Snicket.[2] The former was adapted into a film in 2004 as well as a Netflix series from 2017 to 2019.

Handler has published adult novels and a stage play under his real name, along with other children's books under the Snicket pseudonym. His first book, a satirical fiction piece titled The Basic Eight, was rejected by many publishers for its dark subject matter.

Handler has also played the accordion in several bands, and appeared on the album 69 Love Songs by indie pop band The Magnetic Fields.[3]



Handler was born in San Francisco, California, the son of Sandra Handler (née Walpole), a retired City College of San Francisco dean, and Louis Handler, an accountant.[4] His father was a Jewish refugee from Germany in 1939. His mother is distantly related to British writer Hugh Walpole.[5][6] Of his early religious upbringing, Handler said, "I had a fairly standard Reform Jewish upbringing, I guess, in terms of the religious side of it."[7] He has a younger sister, Rebecca Handler. He attended Commodore Sloat Elementary, Herbert Hoover Middle School, and Lowell High School. He graduated from Wesleyan University in 1992.[8] He was awarded the 1992 Connecticut Student Poet Prize, which he has said he won by ripping off Elizabeth Bishop.[9] He is an alumnus of the San Francisco Boys Chorus.

Handler has been a voracious reader since childhood. The first book he bought as a child was The Blue Aspic by Edward Gorey,[10] of whom he is a fan.[11] He enjoyed the writings of William Maxwell[12] and Roald Dahl.[13]

He is married to Lisa Brown, an illustrator he met in college.[14][15] They have a child, born in 2003.[16] They live in an Edwardian house in San Francisco.[17]

Handler has expressed ambivalence about his wealth and the expectations it creates. He often donates money to charitable causes.[18] Handler and his wife have also donated $1,000,000 to Planned Parenthood,[19] and he has supported the Occupy Wall Street movement.[20][21]

Handler describes himself as a secular humanist and an atheist.[22][23][24] He describes himself as having developed a "feminist consciousness" while in college.[25]

Professional work




Six of Handler's major works have been published under his name.[26] His first, The Basic Eight, was rejected by many publishers for its subject matter and tone (a dark view of a teenage girl's life). Handler has said the novel was rejected 37 times before being published in 1999.[27][28]

Watch Your Mouth, his second novel, was completed before publication of The Basic Eight. It follows a more operatic theme, complete with stage directions and various acts. Watch Your Mouth's second half replaces the opera troupe with the form of a 12-step recovery program, linguistically undergone by the protagonist.[citation needed] In April 2005, Handler published Adverbs, a collection of short stories that he says are "about love." It was followed in 2011 by Why We Broke Up, which received a 2012 Michael L. Printz honor award.[29] Handler's 2015 novel We Are Pirates[30] is about a modern-age pirate who "wants to be an old-fashioned kind of pirate."[31][32] His most recent novel, All the Dirty Parts, was published in 2017[33] and "takes the blunt and constant presence of a male teen's sexuality and considers it with utmost seriousness".[26]

Handler served as a judge for the PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship in 2012.[34] In 2016, he founded Per Diem Press, a poetry competition for young writers.[35] He awarded $1,000 to three winners and published a chapbook of their work.[36]

Lemony Snicket

Handler at a book signing in 2006

Handler wrote the bestselling series of 13 novels A Series of Unfortunate Events under the Snicket pseudonym from 1999 to 2006.[37] The series is about three orphaned children who experience increasingly terrible events after their parents die and their home burns. Snicket acts as the orphans' narrator and biographer.[38] Handler narrated the audiobooks for three books in the series before handing back the narrating job to the original narrator, Tim Curry.[citation needed]

From 2012 to 2015, Handler published the four-part series All the Wrong Questions under the name Lemony Snicket; the books explore Snicket's childhood and V.F.D. apprenticeship in the failing town Stain'd-by-the-Sea.[39][40][41] He has also written other children's novels under the Snicket name, including companion books to his two Snicket series,[42] and children's books such as The Composer is Dead[43] and The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming.[44]


Handler playing and singing at a reading of The End in 2006

Handler was in two bands after college, the Edith Head Trio and Tzamboni, but his music received little attention until 69 Love Songs, a three-album set by The Magnetic Fields on which he played accordion.[45][46][47] In the box set of the project, Handler interviews band leader Stephin Merritt about the project. He also appears in Kerthy Fix's and Gail O'Hara's 2009 documentary Strange Powers, about Merritt and the Magnetic Fields.

Handler has played accordion in several other Merritt projects, including The 6ths and The Gothic Archies, the last of which provided songs for the A Series of Unfortunate Events audiobooks. In 2006, a Gothic Archies album was released with all 13 songs from the 13 A Series of Unfortunate Events audiobooks, along with two bonus songs.

In the audio commentary on the film adaptation Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events, Handler plays a song about how depressing it is to have leeches in a film.

Handler wrote the lyrics to the song "Radio", performed by One Ring Zero,[48] and "The Gibbons Girl", by Chris Ewen's The Hidden Variable.



In 2017, Handler wrote the play Imaginary Comforts, and The Story of The Ghost of The Dead Rabbit, which was performed at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre.[49] The satirical play follows the intertwining lives of three characters and is inspired by the grief Handler felt after his father's death.[50]

Film and television


Handler has also had some success in film. He produced the screenplay for Rick, based on the Verdi opera Rigoletto,[51] as well as Kill the Poor, based on the novel by Joel Rose.[52]

Handler was involved in the screenwriting process for the film Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events but was ultimately removed from the project. After writing eight drafts of the script for Sonnenfeld,[53] he was replaced by Robert Gordon in May 2003.[54] Handler approved of the changes that were made to his original screenplay.[55] "I was offered credit on the film for screenwriting by the Writers Guild of America," Handler said, "but I didn't take it because I didn't write it. I felt like it would be an insult to the guy who did."[53]

Handler submitted a commentary track for the DVD version alongside director Brad Silberling. In character as Lemony Snicket, he derides the Lemony Snicket in the film as an impostor and plays the accordion and sings about leeches rather than pay attention to the film. Many times during the track, he shows great sympathy towards the Baudelaire children and implies that he is being held captive by the director to do the commentary.[56]

Handler was a writer on the Netflix series A Series of Unfortunate Events, also contributing lyrics to the show's theme song, which varies each episode.[57][58] The show has won several accolades, including a Peabody Award in 2017 for excellence in children's and youth programming.[59]



Remark about race


At the November 2014 National Book Awards ceremony, Handler made a controversial remark after author Jacqueline Woodson was presented with an award for Brown Girl Dreaming. During the ceremony, he said that Woodson was allergic to watermelon, a reference to the racist watermelon stereotype. His comments were immediately criticized;[60][61] Handler apologized and donated $10,000 to We Need Diverse Books, and promised to match donations up to $100,000.[62] In a New York Times op-ed published shortly thereafter, "The Pain of the Watermelon Joke", Woodson wrote that "in making light of that deep and troubled history" with his joke, Handler had come from a place of ignorance, but underscored the need for her mission to "give people a sense of this country's brilliant and brutal history, so no one ever thinks they can walk onto a stage one evening and laugh at another's too often painful past".[63][64][65]

Allegations of inappropriate sexual comments


In February 2018, Handler signed an online pledge to boycott conferences that do not have and enforce harassment policies. Underneath his comment, author Kate Messner recounted an incident in which Handler had made inappropriate jokes directed at her, such as "Are you a virgin, too?!" and "These children's book events always turn into orgies!"[66] This led to many other women accusing Handler of verbal sexual harassment at book conferences; among the public accusations are stories of Handler telling a woman he had just met to kiss a random stranger, making crass comments to a teenage girl and walking off without apology when confronted, referring to a stranger as a "hot blonde" and making a "uni-ball" double entendre in front of young children. The incident occurred during the larger Me Too movement.[66][67]

Handler apologized for his behavior, saying, "It has never been my wish to insult any of my professional colleagues",[66] "my sense of humor has not been for everyone",[67] "as a survivor of sexual violence, I also know very well how words or behaviors that are harmless or even liberating to some people can be upsetting to others",[68] and "I am listening and willing to listen; I am learning and willing to learn."[66] After this, Wesleyan University students began to protest Handler's upcoming planned commencement speech at the university.[68] In March 2018, Wesleyan president Michael S. Roth announced that Handler had withdrawn from the appearance,[69] to be replaced by Anita Hill.[68]



Handler has published a variety of books under the name Lemony Snicket, most notably the 13 books in the Unfortunate Events series. These books are listed under Lemony Snicket bibliography.

This section lists works published as Daniel Handler:

Handler also edited or contributed to the following books:






  1. ^ Jeffries, Stuart (February 7, 2015). "Daniel Handler: 'How old does a child need to be to appreciate Lemony Snicket?'". The Guardian. Retrieved May 11, 2015.
  2. ^ Jeffries, Stuart (February 7, 2015). "Daniel Handler: 'How old does a child need to be to appreciate Lemony Snicket?'". The Guardian. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  3. ^ Robinson, Tasha (November 16, 2005). "Daniel Handler". The A.V. Club. Retrieved May 16, 2020.
  4. ^ "Lemony Snicket". The Wee Web. 2011. Archived from the original on September 27, 2011. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  5. ^ Salamon, Julie (September 23, 2004). "Lemony Snicket's Down and Dirty Indie". The New York Times. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  6. ^ Westbrook, Caroline (June 5, 2006). "Daniel Handler interview". SomethingJewish. Archived from the original on April 11, 2012. Retrieved January 24, 2011.
  7. ^ Weiss, Josh (February 15, 2017). "S.F. author Lemony Snicket's 'Jewish story' on Netflix". J. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  8. ^ Sparks, Karen. "Daniel Handler". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved May 11, 2015.
  9. ^ "Happy, Snappy, Sappy" by Daniel Handler
  10. ^ "Daniel Handler: By the Book". New York Times. January 22, 2015. Retrieved May 21, 2022.
  11. ^ Betsy Bird; Julie Danielson; Peter Sieruta (August 5, 2014). Wild Things! Acts of Mischief in Children's Literature. Candlewick Press. p. 42.
  12. ^ "Daniel Handler: By the Book". New York Times. January 22, 2015. Retrieved May 11, 2015.
  13. ^ "The Man Behind Lemony Snicket Talks About Writing For Kids And His Childhood Fears". NPR.org. Retrieved August 15, 2022.
  14. ^ "The Sunday Conversation: With Daniel Handler". Los Angeles Times. June 20, 2010. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  15. ^ "The Man Behind Lemony Snicket Talks About Writing For Kids And His Childhood Fears". NPR.org. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  16. ^ della Cava, Marco R. "Daniel Handler's new Snicket series dives into noir". USA Today. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  17. ^ "Lemony Snicket's Melodramatic Attic Hideaway". Wall Street Journal. August 1, 2017. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  18. ^ Handler, Daniel (June 10, 2007). "Adjusted Income". The New York Times Magazine. Retrieved August 15, 2014.
  19. ^ White, Daniel (November 20, 2014). "Lemony Snicket Pledges $1M to Planned Parenthood". TIME. United States. Retrieved April 27, 2018.
  20. ^ Flock, Elizabeth (October 18, 2011). "Lemony Snicket, MTV help explain Occupy Wall Street to kids". Washington Post. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  21. ^ "Lemony Snicket releases "Thirteen Observations on Occupy Wall Street"". Christian Science Monitor. October 19, 2011. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  22. ^ "CNN.com – Lemony Snicket reaches 'The End' – Oct 5, 2006". CNN. Retrieved April 30, 2010.
  23. ^ Autumn of a book-lover's contentment, Marvin Olasky, World Magazine, October 7, 2006 (Accessed April 5, 2008)
  24. ^ "WORLD Magazine | Today's News, Christian Views". Archived from the original on June 6, 2011. Retrieved April 6, 2008.
  25. ^ Howell, Simmone (November 30, 2017). "Daniel Handler, aka Lemony Snicket, on writing teen sex and his inner girl voice". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved December 18, 2020.
  26. ^ a b Bennett, Hayden (September 1, 2017). "'All the Dirty Parts,' by Daniel Handler". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  27. ^ "Daniel Handler". The A.V. Club. November 16, 2005. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  28. ^ The Basic Eight. Kirkus Reviews.
  29. ^ Ala.org
  30. ^ Columbiajournal.org Archived April 7, 2014, at the Wayback Machine
  31. ^ Minzesheimer, Bob (October 11, 2006). "An 'Unfortunate' end". USA Today.
  32. ^ Handler, Daniel (February 3, 2015). We Are Pirates: A Novel. Bloomsbury Publishing USA. ISBN 978-1608196883.
  33. ^ "All the Dirty Parts". Bloomsbury Publishing. Retrieved September 5, 2017.
  34. ^ "2012 PEN/Phyllis Naylor Working Writer Fellowship". PEN American Center. November 15, 2012. Retrieved February 6, 2013.
  35. ^ "Daniel Handler spends a windfall on poetry". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved June 5, 2018.
  36. ^ "Daniel Handler Crowns Three Poets Per Diem Winners by Harriet Staff". Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation. June 5, 2018. Retrieved June 5, 2018.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: others (link)
  37. ^ "Netflix Adapting Lemony Snicket's 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' Into TV Show". The Hollywood Reporter. November 5, 2014. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  38. ^ "Tortuous Tales". A Series of Unfortunate Events. n.p. Retrieved 2012-04-16.
  39. ^ Healy, Christopher (October 12, 2012). "Unsolved Mysteries". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  40. ^ Rappleye, Christine (November 3, 2012). "Mysteries abound in Lemony Snicket's new All the Wrong Questions series". Deseret News. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  41. ^ "Lemony Snicket's 'All the Wrong Questions' series will be personalized for young readers". Christian Science Monitor. January 16, 2015. ISSN 0882-7729. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  42. ^ Cruz, Lenika (October 23, 2014). "The Postmodern Brilliance of "A Series of Unfortunate Events"". The Atlantic. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  43. ^ "Lemony Snicket's Musical Murder Mystery". NPR.org. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  44. ^ Blum, Matt (December 10, 2011). "Lemony Snicket's The Latke Who Couldn't Stop Screaming (GeekDad Wayback Machine)". Wired. ISSN 1059-1028. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  45. ^ Robinson, Tasha (November 16, 2005). "Daniel Handler".
  46. ^ "Merritt Returns To 'Bubble-Gum Goth' On New Album". Billboard. September 25, 2006. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  47. ^ Jurgensen, John (February 9, 2008). "Magnetic Fields: On the Road". Wall Street Journal. ISSN 0099-9660. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  48. ^ "One Ring Zero weaves writers' words into song". The Boston Globe. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  49. ^ "Review: "Imaginary Comforts, or The Story of the Ghost of the Dead Rabbit" at Berkeley Repertory Theatre". OnStage Blog. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  50. ^ "Down the rabbit hole with 'Imaginary Comforts' writer Daniel Handler". The Daily Californian. October 12, 2017. Retrieved May 25, 2018.
  51. ^ Salamon, Julie (September 23, 2004). "Lemony Snicket's Down and Dirty Indie". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  52. ^ Lee, Nathan (January 6, 2006). "Ragtag Tenants in a Shabby Part of Town". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved March 18, 2020.
  53. ^ a b Spence D. (December 16, 2004). "Interview: Lemony Snicket". IGN. Archived from the original on December 8, 2006. Retrieved April 7, 2009.
  54. ^ Fleming, Michael (May 7, 2003). "Scribe brings new map to Snicket thicket". Variety. Retrieved April 5, 2009.
  55. ^ Archerd, Army (December 13, 2004). "Crystal king on B'way". Variety. Retrieved April 5, 2009.
  56. ^ "The DVD Journal: Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events". www.dvdjournal.com. Retrieved March 1, 2024.
  57. ^ "Daniel Handler (a.k.a Lemony Snicket) explains why he's less involved with 'Unfortunate Events' on Netflix - The Boston Globe". BostonGlobe.com. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  58. ^ "Here's What Went Into Making 'A Series of Unfortunate Events' Superb Theme Song". Decider. April 9, 2018. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  59. ^ "Highlighting the Best Storytelling of 2017". Archived from the original on July 23, 2018. Retrieved May 18, 2018.
  60. ^ Gambino, Lauren (November 20, 2014). "Lemony Snicket apologizes for watermelon joke about black writer at National Book Awards". The Guardian. London. Retrieved November 21, 2014.
  61. ^ Cohen, Anne (November 20, 2014). "Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Racist Jokes". The Jewish Daily Forward. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  62. ^ Ohlheiser, Abby (November 21, 2014). "Daniel Handler does more than apologize for his 'watermelon' joke". The Washington Post. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  63. ^ Woodson, Jacqueline (November 28, 2014). "The Pain of the Watermelon Joke". The New York Times. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  64. ^ Frizell, Sam (November 29, 2014). "Jacqueline Woodson Responds to Racist Watermelon Joke". Time. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  65. ^ "Award-Winning Author Jacqueline Woodson Responds To Racist Joke". The Huffington Post. Associated Press. November 29, 2014. Retrieved November 30, 2014.
  66. ^ a b c d Lockett, Dee (February 22, 2018). "Lemony Snicket Accused of Making Lewd Comments About Female Authors". Vulture. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  67. ^ a b Perry, David M. (February 21, 2018). "HOW WILL PUBLISHING DEAL WITH LEMONY SNICKET AMID #METOO?". Pacific Standard. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  68. ^ a b c Binkley, Collin; Italie, Hillel (March 1, 2018). "Author cancels graduation speech amid harassment allegations". The Washington Post. Archived from the original on March 2, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  69. ^ Madani, Doha (March 2, 2018). "'Lemony Snicket' Out As Wesleyan Speaker Amid Reports Of Inappropriate Comments". HuffPost. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  70. ^ "Lemony Snicket interview". The Daily Telegraph. November 6, 2014. Archived from the original on October 26, 2021.