Michael Kernan

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Michael Kernan
Born Michael Jenkins Kernan, Jr.
April 29, 1927
Utica, New York
Died May 4, 2005(2005-05-04) (aged 78)
Bennington, Vermont
Occupation journalist
Years active 1949-1994
Employer Washington Post
Known for Style section
Parent(s) Michael J. Kernan Sr.

Michael Jenkins Kernan, Jr. (April 29, 1927 – May 4, 2005) was an American author and journalist.[1]


Kernan was born in Utica, New York and grew up outside Clinton, New York. His father Michael J. Kernan (1884–1953) was an investment broker and New York State Senator.[1][2] His great-grandfather Francis Kernan (1816–1892) was a U.S. Senator (D-NY). Kernan graduated from Harvard University in 1949.[1]

Kernan worked for the Watertown Daily Times from 1949 until 1953. From 1953 to 1966 he was an editor and reporter for the Redwood City Tribune, a paper in California.[1]

In 1967, Kernan began work at The Washington Post. In 1969, he became one of the founding journalists of the new Post's Style section. He would remain at the Post in the Style section for the rest of his primary career, writing articles on a wide variety of subjects, including about his speech impediment of stuttering. Kernan's final story as a staff writer was on June 18, 1989.[1]

Benjamin C. Bradlee, executive editor of The Post, described Kernan as a "poet in newspaperman's clothing." Mary Hadar, former editor of the Post's Style section, said "He was a glorious writer who could make anything interesting."[1] The Post published a special appreciation for Kernan.[3]


Kernan published a work of non-fiction The Violet Dots (1978) about a British soldier who fought in the Battle of the Somme in World War I and the novels The Lost Diaries of Frans Hals (1994) and Before(2001) (a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island .[1][4]

He published more than 100 articles for the Smithsonian Magazine, including seven years writing the "Around the Mall and Beyond" column.[1]

Some of his articles for the Washington Post include:

  • "A Literary Skirmish Over Hiss" (review of Perjury by Allen Weinstein)[5]
  • "War Casualty" (Review of Let There Be Light by John Huston, republished in 2012 from 1981)[6]
  • "Mortal Thoughts" (Review of Enter Sandman by Stephanie Williams)[7]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Schudel, Matt (6 May 2005). "Michael Kernan, Post Style Writer for 20 Years, Dies". Washington Post. 
  2. ^ "New York: State Senate, 1930s". Political Graveyard. Retrieved 30 August 2013. 
  3. ^ Allen, Henry (6 May 2005). "Appreciation: Michael Kernan: The Features of a Born Storyteller". Washington Post. 
  4. ^ "The Violet Dots". Neglected Books. Retrieved 30 August 2013. 
  5. ^ Kernan, Michael (6 April 1978). "A Literary Skirmish Over Hiss" (PDF). Washington Post. 
  6. ^ Kernan, Michael (12 February 1981 (republished 24 May 2012)). "Mortal Thoughts". Washington Post.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ Kernan, Michael (29 September 2004). "Mortal Thoughts". Washington Post. 

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