Mark Helprin is an American novelist, journalist, conservative commentator, Senior Fellow of the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy, Fellow of the American Academy in Rome, and Member of the Council on Foreign Relations. While Helprin's fictional works straddle a number of disparate genres and styles, he has stated that he "belongs to no literary school, movement, tendency, or trend."
Helprin states that his literary creation "always starts with something very small." "I can sit down to write a story just by thinking of the first two words of a Scott Fitzgerald story: 'This Jonquil'—it's a woman's name. This always gets me in the mood to write. We create nothing new—no one has ever imagined a new color—so what you are doing is revitalizing. You are remembering, then combining, altering. Artists who think they're creating new worlds are simply creating tiny versions of this world." His inspirations include Dante, Shakespeare, Melville, and Mark Twain.
His first novel, published in 1977, was Refiner's Fire: The Life and Adventures of Marshall Pearl, a Foundling. The 1983 novel Winter's Tale is a sometimes fantastic tale of early 20th-century life in New York City. He published A Soldier of the Great War in 1991. Memoir from Antproof Case, published in 1995, includes long comic diatribes against the effects of coffee.
Helprin published Freddy and Fredericka, a satire based on Prince Charles and Princess Diana, in 2005. In Sunlight and In Shadow was released in 2012 and has been described as an extended love song to New York City. Paris In The Present Tense was published in 2017.
Helprin has published three books of short stories: A Dove of the East & Other Stories (1975), Ellis Island & Other Stories (1981), and The Pacific and Other Stories (2004). He has written three children's books, all of which are illustrated by Chris Van Allsburg: Swan Lake, A City in Winter, and The Veil of Snows. His works have been translated into more than a dozen languages.
Helprin's writing has appeared in The New Yorker for two decades. He writes essays and a column for the Claremont Review of Books. His writings, including political op-eds, have appeared in The Wall Street Journal (for which he was a contributing editor until 2006), The New York Times, The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, The Atlantic Monthly, The New Criterion, National Review, American Heritage, and other publications.