Famous Pipe-Smoking Authors

A pile of open books

When we think of classic authors we imagine them at a typewriter, looking like a fine, scholarly gentleman; perhaps one who is smoking a pipe whilst gazing off deep in thought. The link between pipe-smoking and literature is one that has introduced many a pipe-lover to the hobby; both through the desire to obtain that intellectual atmosphere and through the inspiration of their iconic characters. So, with this in mind, we take a look at four of our favourite famous pipe-smoking authors:

Mark Twain

Samuel Clemens, better known under the pen name Mark Twain, was a renowned American author. His best loved works include The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which is now considered the first ‘Great American Novel’. As well as being famous for his novel writing, Twain is considered one of the most famed smokers. A lover of both the pipe and the cigar, Twain started his habit at the age of nine.

When it came to pipes, Twain preferred the corn cob pipe, featuring a larger bowl. Although like most pipe smokers, he had a collection that he switched between, including briar pipes, cherry pipes and meerschaum. Twain’s love for pipes was transferred into his novels, with Huckleberry Finn mirroring his intrigue in tobacco; an act that has inspired a range of corn cob style pipes to be named after the characters.

Though the pipe was a clear favourite of Twain’s, with one on his person in almost every photograph, he was also an avid cigar fan. The habit was so strong in fact that he regularly smoked 22 a day! Tobacco, it seems, was a sort of muse for Twain; in a period of abstinence from smoking, he only managed to write six chapters in the space of a year. Taking up the pipe again, he burned those chapters and managed to finish the entire book in three months!


Arthur Conan Doyle

Photographs reveal that, like his iconic creation, Conan Doyle was a lover of the pipe and cigar. However, while Sherlock Holmes is now synonymous with calabash gourd pipes, the preferences of Conan Doyle when it comes to pipe type is one mystery still unsolved!

While Conan Doyle is best known for his beloved detective stories, the author actually preferred his other works, considering Sherlock to be commercial, unlike the serious works he wished to be known for. But not only was it a commercial success in the world of books, but Sherlock Holmes’ prolific smoking also boosted the sales of pipes!


J.R.R. Tolkien

The famous fantasy writer, best known for the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, was first introduced to the world of pipe-smoking by Father Francis, a priest with whom he lived with as a child. Tolkien’s pipe of choice was a thick-bowl billiard, which he can be seen smoking in many photos of the author. Tolkien, and his good friend and fellow author, C.S. Lewis, spent many hours together at the Eagle and Child Pub in Oxford, where they discussed book ideas over a pipe.

The pipe best associated with Tolkien, however, is one that he never smoked. The churchwarden, smoked by Gandalf and Bilbo, features a long, curved stem around six inches long. The movie adaptations of Tolkien’s classics kickstarted the demand for churchwarden-style pipes. It is not surprising the film revived the popularity of smoking pipes, as the magical world brings the smoke to life, blowing out impressive rings and animated smokey sculptures. The long-stemmed nature of the churchwarden pipe makes it a great pipe for beginners, as it allows the smoke to cool a little before it reaches the mouth.


Dr. Seuss

Beloved for his classic children’s tales, Ted Geisel, better known as Dr Seuss, spent most of his adult life smoking a pipe. Unlike the other famous authors in this list, Dr Seuss actually decided to quit the habit. But with a pipe being such a good companion, he was not ready for it to be out of his life completely. In a rather quirky way, matching the eccentricity of his literature, he filled the bowl of his pipe with dirt and planted strawberry seeds within it. From then on, every time he felt the urge to smoke, he would instead water his tiny plant with an eyedropper!


It seems like creativity and pipe-smoking go hand in hand, so if you fancy attaining the imaginations of these celebrated authors, take a look at our selection of pipes, including our incredible range of Peterson Pipes!

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