Daniel M. Lavery

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Daniel M. Lavery
Daniel Mallory Ortberg.jpg
BornMallory Ortberg
(1986-11-28) November 28, 1986 (age 33)
EducationAzusa Pacific
Period21st century
Short fiction
Notable worksThe Toast
Texts from Jane Eyre
The Merry Spinster
RelativesJohn Ortberg (father)

Daniel M. Lavery[1][2] (born Mallory Ortberg, November 28, 1986)[3] is a transgender[4][5] American author and editor. He co-founded the website The Toast and has written the books Texts from Jane Eyre (2014) and The Merry Spinster (2018) as well as Slate's "Dear Prudence" advice column. He also hosts the "Dear Prudence" podcast.

Early life[edit]

Lavery grew up in northern Illinois and then San Francisco,[6] one of three children of the evangelical Christian author and Menlo Church pastor John Ortberg and Nancy Ortberg, who is also a pastor and the CEO of Transforming the Bay with Christ.[7][8]

He attended Azusa Pacific University,[9] a private, evangelical Christian university in California.

While a student, Lavery appeared on Jeopardy!, Show #5816 of Monday, December 21, 2009, and finished in third place.[10][11]


Lavery speaking in 2015.

Lavery wrote for Gawker and The Hairpin.[12][13] Through this work he met Nicole Cliffe, with whom he operated The Toast, a feminist general interest web site,[14] from July 2013 to July 2016.[7]

He was included in the 2015 Forbes "30 under 30" list in the media category.[15] On November 9, 2015, Slate announced he would take over the magazine's "Dear Prudence" advice column from Emily Yoffe.[16]

In 2017, he launched a paid subscription email newsletter called the Shatner Chatner.[17][18]


Lavery has cited Shirley Jackson, particularly We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan as writing influences.[19]

Texts from Jane Eyre[edit]

Lavery's first book, Texts from Jane Eyre, was released in November 2014[20][21] and became a New York Times bestseller.[22] The book was based on a column he wrote first at The Hairpin, then continued at The Toast,[12] which imagines famous literary characters exchanging anachronistic text messages. The premise was inspired by a comments-section thread on a piece Cliffe had written for The Awl; on Cliffe's review of Gone With the Wind, a commenter wrote that their experience in the South was nearly identical to the novel "except everybody has cellphones", prompting him to imagine how Scarlett O'Hara might have used a cell phone.[23]

The Merry Spinster[edit]

Lavery is also the author of the short story collection The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror (Henry Holt, 2018).[24][25] The book, his second release, was highly anticipated, with Publishers Weekly, Bustle, The A.V. Club and InStyle Australia all naming it to lists of best forthcoming titles in 2018.[26][27][28][29]

The Merry Spinster reinvents archetypal fairy tales like Cinderella and Beauty and the Beast; in the Los Angeles Times, Agatha French described his renderings as making the "stories both weirder and yet somehow more familiar".[19]

Something That May Shock and Discredit You[edit]

Lavery's third book, Something That May Shock and Discredit You, will be published in January 2020 by Simon & Schuster.[30]

Personal life[edit]

Lavery identifies as queer.[7] In February 2018, he spoke to Autostraddle about the process of gender transitioning while writing The Merry Spinster.[31] In March 2018, he was interviewed by Heather Havrilesky in New York magazine's The Cut about coming out as trans.[32]

In November 2018, he and partner Grace Lavery, Associate Professor of English at UC Berkeley,[33][34] announced their intention to marry.[35] He and Grace were married on December 22, 2019[36].


  1. ^ Chatner, The Shatner. "A Halloween Compendium From The DMO-L Archives". www.shatnerchatner.com.
  2. ^ @evilmallelis (March 12, 2018). "ok @CharoShane and I talked about breakfast and it was very exciting to 1. talk about breakfast and 2. bust out a sneak preview of the new name & shiny pronouns". Twitter. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  3. ^ @evilmallelis (November 28, 2017). "IT IS MY THIRTY-FIRST BIRTHDAY AND I AM HAPPY". Twitter. Retrieved March 12, 2018.
  4. ^ "'Mallory Is Not Gone': Daniel Mallory Ortberg on Coming Out As Trans". March 13, 2018. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
  5. ^ "Mallory Ortberg comes out as trans". March 1, 2018. Retrieved October 31, 2019.
  6. ^ Ortberg, Mallory. "Have You Heard the One About the Religious Woman Who Stops Being Religious in College?". Gawker. Retrieved March 17, 2018.
  7. ^ a b c Scoles, Sarah (June 13, 2017). "Mallory Ortberg's Internet". Motherboard. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  8. ^ Anugrah, Kumar (May 13, 2013). "Motherhood a 'Two-way Street' Former Willow Creek Pastor Shares". The Christian Post. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  9. ^ "The Art of Commerce: Episode XXX: 'I wouldn't want to reassure my past self. "Keep panicking".'". 0s&1s. September 29, 2015. Retrieved March 14, 2018.
  10. ^ "J! Archive - Show #5816, aired 2009-12-21". www.j-archive.com. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
  11. ^ "J! Archive - Mallory Ortberg". www.j-archive.com. Retrieved May 6, 2019.
  12. ^ a b Galo, Sarah (November 3, 2014). "Mallory Ortberg: 'If men show up that's great, but we don't need them'". The Guardian. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  13. ^ Kott, Lidia Jean. "Mallory Ortberg And Her (Small) Media Empire". The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  14. ^ Lange, Maggie (October 30, 2014). "Mallory Ortberg on the Great Jerks of Literature". New York Magazine. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  15. ^ "2015 30 under 30: Media". Retrieved January 31, 2015.
  16. ^ Turner, Julia (November 9, 2015). "Meet Our New Dear Prudence Columnist". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved July 26, 2017.
  17. ^ Guthrie Weissman, Cale (December 1, 2017). "The Toast's Mallory Ortberg Is Bringing Her Beloved Content Back–For A Price". Fast Company. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  18. ^ Benton, Joshua (December 1, 2017). "Stratechery, but for jokes about Frasier: Mallory Ortberg tries the paid newsletter route". Nieman Lab. Retrieved January 12, 2018.
  19. ^ a b French, Agatha (March 8, 2018). "Mallory Ortberg on the remixed fairy tales of her new book 'The Merry Spinster'". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  20. ^ Ulaby, Neda (November 10, 2014). "If Literature's Great Characters Could Text, They'd Charm Your Pantalets Off". NPR. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  21. ^ Busis, Hillary. "Breaking Big: Mallory Ortberg, author of 'Texts from Jane Eyre'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  22. ^ "Best Sellers, December 2014". New York Times. December 2014. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
  23. ^ Cohen, Rebecca (November 8, 2014). "If Scarlett O'Hara could sext". Mother Jones. Retrieved January 18, 2018.
  24. ^ "Kirkus Star THE MERRY SPINSTER by Mallory Ortberg". Kirkus Reviews. November 28, 2017. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  25. ^ "Fiction Book Review: The Merry Spinster by Mallory Ortberg. Holt, $17 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-1-250-11342-9". Publishers Weekly. November 20, 2017. Retrieved February 8, 2018.
  26. ^ "The Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2018". Publishers Weekly. January 23, 2018. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  27. ^ Ragsdale, Melissa. "12 Books Every Harry Potter Fan NEEDS To Read In 2018". Bustle. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  28. ^ PenzeyMoog, Caitlin; Adamczyk, Laura (January 4, 2018). "The 10 books we can't wait to read in 2018". The A.V. Club. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  29. ^ Burke, Tina (March 2018). "8 Books You Absolutely Have To Read This Month". InStyle Australia. Retrieved March 13, 2018.
  30. ^ Canfield, David (July 2, 2019). "Exclusive preview: Daniel Mallory Ortberg returns with new memoir-in-essays". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 3, 2019.
  31. ^ "Mal Ortberg's Creepy New Book is Coming Out and Mal Is Too". Autostraddle. February 28, 2018. Retrieved March 1, 2018.
  32. ^ Havrilesky, Heather (March 13, 2018). "'Mallory Is Not Gone': Daniel Mallory Ortberg on Coming Out As Trans". The Cut. Retrieved March 16, 2018.
  33. ^ "UC Berkeley Department of English". english.berkeley.edu. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  34. ^ Lavery, Grace. "this transsexual got tenure, baby!!!". Twitter. Retrieved April 19, 2019.
  35. ^ Ortberg, Daniel (November 29, 2018). "i'm terribly happy and my pants are muddy - the road to yosemite was flooded so i proposed by the side of the road. she's my best girl". @danielortberg. Retrieved January 11, 2019.
  36. ^ "Daniel M. Lavery on Instagram: "married Grace so tired so good photo by @christina_gracet"". Instagram. Retrieved January 10, 2020.

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