Daniel Mallory Ortberg

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Daniel Mallory Ortberg
Daniel Mallory Ortberg.jpg
BornMallory Ortberg
(1986-11-28) November 28, 1986 (age 32)
EducationAzusa Pacific
Period21st century
Short fiction
Notable worksThe Toast
Texts from Jane Eyre
The Merry Spinster
RelativesJohn Ortberg (father)

Daniel Mallory Ortberg[1] (formerly Mallory Ortberg; November 28, 1986)[2] is an 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]

Ortberg grew up in northern Illinois and then San Francisco,[3] 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.[4][5]

He attended Azusa Pacific University,[6] a private, evangelical Christian university in California.


Ortberg speaking about death in 2015.

Ortberg wrote for Gawker and The Hairpin.[7][8] Through this work he met Nicole Cliffe, with whom he operated The Toast, a feminist general interest web site,[9] from July 2013 to July 2016.[4]

He was included in the 2015 Forbes "30 under 30" list in the media category.[10] On November 9, 2015, Slate announced he would take over the magazine's "Dear Prudence" advice column from Emily Yoffe.[11]

In 2017, he launched a paid subscription email newsletter called the Shatner Chatner.[12][13]


Ortberg has cited Shirley Jackson, particularly We Have Always Lived in the Castle, and The Pilgrim's Progress by John Bunyan as writing influences.[14]

Texts from Jane Eyre[edit]

Ortberg's first book, Texts from Jane Eyre, was released in November 2014[15][16] and became a New York Times bestseller.[17] The book was based on a column he wrote first at The Hairpin, then continued at The Toast,[7] 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.[18]

The Merry Spinster[edit]

Ortberg is also the author of the short story collection The Merry Spinster: Tales of Everyday Horror (Henry Holt, 2018).[19][20] 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.[21][22][23][24]

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".[14]

Personal life[edit]

Ortberg identifies as queer.[4] In February 2018, he spoke to Autostraddle about the process of transitioning genders while writing The Merry Spinster.[25] In March 2018, he was interviewed by Heather Havrilesky in New York magazine's The Cut about coming out as trans.[26]

In November 2018, he and partner Grace Lavery, Assistant Professor of English at UC Berkeley, [27] announced their intention to marry.[28]


  1. ^ @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 2018-03-12.
  2. ^ @evilmallelis (2017-11-28). "IT IS MY THIRTY-FIRST BIRTHDAY AND I AM HAPPY". Twitter. Retrieved 2018-03-12.
  3. ^ Ortberg, Mallory. "Have You Heard the One About the Religious Woman Who Stops Being Religious in College?". Gawker. Retrieved 2018-03-17.
  4. ^ a b c Scoles, Sarah (June 13, 2017). "Mallory Ortberg's Internet". Motherboard. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  5. ^ Anugrah, Kumar (May 13, 2013). "Motherhood a 'Two-way Street' Former Willow Creek Pastor Shares". The Christian Post. Retrieved 2018-03-13.
  6. ^ "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.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ Kott, Lidia Jean. "Mallory Ortberg And Her (Small) Media Empire". The Huffington Post. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  9. ^ Lange, Maggie (October 30, 2014). "Mallory Ortberg on the Great Jerks of Literature". New York Magazine. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  10. ^ "2015 30 under 30: Media". Retrieved January 31, 2015.
  11. ^ Turner, Julia (2015-11-09). "Meet Our New Dear Prudence Columnist". Slate. ISSN 1091-2339. Retrieved 2017-07-26.
  12. ^ Guthrie Weissman, Cale (December 1, 2017). "The Toast's Mallory Ortberg Is Bringing Her Beloved Content Back–For A Price". Fast Company. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  13. ^ Benton, Joshua (December 1, 2017). "Stratechery, but for jokes about Frasier: Mallory Ortberg tries the paid newsletter route". Nieman Lab. Retrieved 12 January 2018.
  14. ^ 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 2018-03-13.
  15. ^ Ulaby, Neda (November 10, 2014). "If Literature's Great Characters Could Text, They'd Charm Your Pantalets Off". NPR. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  16. ^ Busis, Hillary. "Breaking Big: Mallory Ortberg, author of 'Texts from Jane Eyre'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved November 11, 2014.
  17. ^ "Best Sellers, December 2014". New York Times. December 2014. Retrieved December 11, 2014.
  18. ^ Cohen, Rebecca (November 8, 2014). "If Scarlett O'Hara could sext". Mother Jones. Retrieved 2018-01-18.
  19. ^ "Kirkus Star THE MERRY SPINSTER by Mallory Ortberg". Kirkus Reviews. November 28, 2017. Retrieved 8 February 2018.
  20. ^ "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 2018-02-08.
  21. ^ "The Most Anticipated Books of Spring 2018". Publishers Weekly. January 23, 2018. Retrieved 2018-03-13.
  22. ^ Ragsdale, Melissa. "12 Books Every Harry Potter Fan NEEDS To Read In 2018". Bustle. Retrieved 2018-03-13.
  23. ^ PenzeyMoog, Caitlin; Adamczyk, Laura (January 4, 2018). "The 10 books we can't wait to read in 2018". The A.V. Club. Retrieved 2018-03-13.
  24. ^ Burke, Tina (March 2018). "8 Books You Absolutely Have To Read This Month". InStyle Australia. Retrieved 2018-03-13.
  25. ^ "Mal Ortberg's Creepy New Book is Coming Out and Mal Is Too". Autostraddle. 2018-02-28. Retrieved 2018-03-01.
  26. ^ Havrilesky, Heather (2018-03-13). "'Mallory Is Not Gone': Daniel Mallory Ortberg on Coming Out As Trans". The Cut. Retrieved 2018-03-16.
  27. ^ "UC Berkeley Department of English". english.berkeley.edu. Retrieved 2019-01-11.
  28. ^ Ortberg, Daniel (2018-11-29). "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 2019-01-11.

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